Many of us read Scripture as a book solely about God and our personal relationship with Him. While there is value in this ethical and spiritual lens, it can also blind us to some of the nuances and broader philosophical implications within the Bible. Dr. Joshua Berman wants to challenge us to think about Scripture in different ways—including comparing Israel to the other Ancient Near Eastern civilizations of its day, understanding its ethical proscriptions for entire communities (not just individuals), and seeing the Hebrew Bible’s influence on our modern political regimes.

In this episode, Dr. Joshua Berman describes what the intellectual world of the Bible looks like to him. He emphasizes both the radical elevation of equality within ancient Israel as well as Scripture’s concern for the health of the entire nation, not just individual ethics. He and Dr. Johnson also evaluate the limitations of source criticism and what modern Christians have to learn by carefully reading the Hebrew Bible instead of detaching it from the New Testament.

Shownotes:

  • 0:00 Introducing Dr. Joshua Berman and his research
  • 2:33 Dr. Berman discusses his book Created Equal and the uniqueness of Hebraic political philosophy
  • 5:36 Dr. Berman defines the intellectual world of the Bible
  • 8:03 Why the Hebrew Bible is relevant to modern Christians and our culture more broadly
  • 10:50 The story of Achan in the Book of Joshua and its subtle implications for the communal life of God’s people
  • 18:17 The coherent narrative of Scripture and the limitations of source criticism
  • 20:24 Dr. Berman’s favorite passage of Scripture

Joshua Berman is a professor of Hebrew Bible at Bar-Ilan University, Israel.  A graduate of Princeton University, Dr. Berman also studied for eight years at Yeshivat Har-Etzion in Israel and has rabbinical ordination from the Israeli Chief Rabbinate.  He is the author, among other works of Created Equal: How the Bible Broke with Ancient Political Thought  (Oxford, 2008) and Inconsistency in the Torah: Ancient Literary Convention and the Limits of Source Criticism (Oxford, 2017). In addition to his scholarly output, Dr. Berman has also published pieces on the Hebrew Bible and contemporary thought in Mosaic Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. Dr. Berman served as a member of the International Advisory Council of the Museum of the Bible, Washington, D.C.


Credits for the music used in the CHT Podcast can be found at: hebraicthought.org/credits/.