Thinking Biblically about Institutions (Ari Lamm)
The Bible tells stories about individuals, families, and nations. But it also tells stories about institutions—the chosen and unchosen social structures that range from marriage, to news media, to the Supreme Court. Today, many people see major institutions as weak, corrupt, or untrustworthy (sometimes correctly). In this episode, Dru welcomes Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm back to the podcast for the fourth time to discuss the idea of institutions in the Hebrew Bible. Ari surveys the role of institutions the biblical narratives, looking at the earliest chapters of Genesis, the story of Abraham, the golden calf narrative, and the nations of Egypt and Babylon. They also discuss the right response to broken and corrupt institutions, the dangers of “spiritual highs,” and the corrective role of prophetic voices.
Rabbi Dr. Ari Lamm is the CEO of Bnai Zion, an organization that aims to strengthen Israel and Jewish people, as well as the host of Good Faith Effort, a podcast that examines the Bible and its interactions with society. He studied Judaism and Christianity at University College London and Princeton University, and received his rabbinical ordination at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He frequently writes and speaks about Jewish values and their positive impact on the world.
- 0:00 The biblical view of institutions
- 2:30 Biblical “false starts”
- 7:15 Abraham and the Bronze Age
- 10:07 How institutions come to exist
- 14:27 Unchosen obligations
- 19:40 Egypt and Babylon
- 23:38 Being born into corrupt systems
- 27:22 Spiritual awakenings and religious practices
- 34:08 The most important verse in the Bible
- 36:36 The political structure of biblical Israel
- 44:48 Dealing with broken institutions
Show notes by Micah Long
Image created by Rubner Durais
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Credits for the music TBM podcast: hebraicthought.org/credits.