If Christians Read Scripture Like Jews Do (Ari Lamm)

Christians who feel uneasy with tricky texts in Scripture have something to learn from Jewish Bible readers. Jews actually seek out challenges in the Bible, because they believe these are God’s invitation to develop and use wisdom. Christians should read Scripture like Jews do.

In this episode, Dru Johnson interviews Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm, a “historian of religion who is interested in the role of religion, religious values, and tradition in shaping the global moral discourse.” His Orthodox Jewish upbringing taught him to embrace the view of the Hebrew Bible as layered, complex, and challenging—for, the very idea of God suggests that He has complex and layered ideas to communicate with His creation. Dr. Lamm encourages Christians read Scripture similarly, to be similarly comfortable with questioning biblical stories on a deeper level.

Don’t forget to check out Dr. Lamm’s podcast Good Faith Effort, where he “speaks with thinkers, writers, artists, and faith leaders to explore how the Bible continues to inform our lives today, from politics to psychology to pop culture, bringing Americans of different traditions and persuasions closer together as so much else threatens to pull us apart.”

Show notes:

  • 5:56 Humans can partner with God to extend the work of creation.
  • 7:33 Hermeneutic of suspicion: Why doesn’t Joseph contact his father?
  • 15:38 Is it typical for Jewish interpretation to ask questions that are constrained to the text?
  • 17:35 The rabbis’ legends.
  • 22:35 What made Joseph resilient?
  • 26:04 The permission to read Scripture questioningly
  • 29:32 Using one character to interpret another: Why does God choose Abraham?

Show notes by Serena Tuomi.

Did you enjoy this podcast episode? Check out articles from The Biblical Mind.

Credits for the music TBM podcast: hebraicthought.org/credits.