this paper I advance the thesis that the problems and methods with which biblical
criticism deals should be neither formally incorporated nor overlooked or excluded from
the years of a formal Jewish education.
In Part I, I set out what I believe to be the main tension, that is,
between Torah min shamayim and Torah kind of min shamayim, which,
as R. Carmy evocatively puts it, is kind of like playing chess without the king.
In Part II, I explain that I do not think biblical criticism qua
biblical criticism, even in the light of a מאמין, should be
formally taught in high school. I explain why this is a good thing not only from a
religious perspective but also from a societal perspective and an individualist
perspective. I point out that these arguments begin to lose their validity toward the
close of secondary school education. In Part III, I argue that biblical criticism should
not be entirely ignored for the pragmatic reason that students will pick it up elsewhere
and possibly by themselves, and also for the positive, instrumentalist value it has in
furthering both emuna and exegesis.
In Part IV, I set forth my suggestions, an attempt to balance the
problems in including bible criticism and the problems in excluding bible criticism, both
aforementioned. I argue that teachers should do two things. They should familiarize
themselves with the issues so as to avoid exacerbating problems raised by students. They
also should informally inoculate students against an Achillean vulnerability outside the
classroom to uncharted waters of bible scholarship, against a directionless personal
search for truth, and against an abuse of the valuable tool for insight afforded by bible
criticism. I do not discuss at any length how practically to use bible criticism to
augment the text, which is the topic of other Fellows papers.
My parameters for incorporating biblical criticism call for laying a groundwork that
will enable students to confront biblical criticism where it is raised by their own minds
or by others, where the issue is reactive or proactive. The informality of it is meant to
preserve the religiously tendentious approach I laud in Part II. In Part V, I conclude by
charting my own journey in writing this paper.