Gary Schnittjer – Torah Story
Episode: This episode covers a wide swathe of the Torah’s terrain, including reading the Torah as a story (even Leviticus), reading laws that come into conflict with each other, The Cat in the Hat, extended echo effect (literary patterning), what makes the Bible such great literature, the importance of Judah for reading Genesis, the danger of holiness, violent priestly interventions in Exodus and Numbers, the positive role of ambiguity, and much more deriving from Gary’s newest book Torah Story: An Apprenticeship on the Pentateuch.
Guest: Gary Schnittjer is Distinguished University Professor of Old Testament at Cairn University’s School of Divinity. He’s the author of Old Testament Use of Old Testament: A Book-By-Book Guide (Zondervan Academic), which also has a Workbook; Old Testament Narrative: The Israel Story (to be released in Sept of this year), and Torah Story: An Apprenticeship on the Pentateuch (Zondervan Academic) now in its thoroughly revised Second Edition. Schnittjer also offers daily videos at HebrewDaybyDay.com for students learning biblical Hebrew.
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If you enjoyed this episode … check out our interview on Schnittjer’s Old Testament use of Old Testament.
One Reply to “Gary Schnittjer – Torah Story”
I resonate with the Torah Story episode and Gary Schnitter’s basic thesis on what Torah functions as; primarily as narrative. If we could go a step further and classify it’s genre, it seems to be wisdom literature more than anything. The corpus of “laws” (the word law does not occur anywhere in other ANE literature nor in the Bible) does not cover every scenario that may crop up in life but rather God gives Torah as a set of basic principles to guide and govern relationships so when an instance transpires that isn’t specifically enumerated in Torah, the parties involved will know how to adjudicate the issue based on the stipulations already outlined. The author(s) of Torah are also drawing on pre-existing legal material already in circulation during their time and weaving them into the Torah narrative as commentary so to speak. For example, Hammurabi’s Code existed centuries before the composition of Torah, yet it appears there is crossover in Torah with some of Hammurabi’s Code. If we assume nascent Israel was largely a nomadic to semi-nomadic people group, Bedouin legal traditions can also be extremely useful in understanding how “law” is perceived and dispensed. The term “law” in Bedouin vocabulary could be more aptly titled “right/entitlement.” The pursuit of maintaining life, limb, honor, and property unviolated by another could be construed as living a life of shalom and when anyone of those rights are infringed upon, it is a smear on one’s reputation which must be restored through their unwritten legal system. So perhaps, living out Torah correctly is not only a mechanism for upholding the reputation of God, but God also institutes Torah as a method to give people rights or entitlements that are to remain unperturbed by a neighbor. If any of those rights, as stated in Torah, are violated the plaintiff may rectify their own honor/name/reputation. Moreover, many of their proverbs carry a legalistic connotation which speaks into the concept of law as wisdom in living. There is much more to discuss/comment on regarding this topic but space does not permit. Thanks!