The study of Religion—and Bible in particular—is, relatively speaking, conservative by nature. New approaches emerge, new theories are presented, but the impact of any single scholarly contribution requires time before it finds its way into the curricula of universities and seminaries. Which innovations will last and which will soon be undermined? Which innovations can enhance our religious lives and our understanding of Jewish existence and which will lead us astray? The challenge for the teacher of Reform Judaism has long been to find a way to teach tradition informed by scholarship particularly in biblical studies, where the origins of custom and law, revelation and wisdom, knowledge and lore, all find root. This mini-course, in just three sessions, endeavored to shed light on recent innovations in biblical studies that we believe should have an impact on the way you think about teaching Torah.
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David H. Aaron has been a Professor of Bible and History of Interpretation at the Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati, since the Fall of 1998. He earned a doctorate from the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University (1991); he holds Rabbinic Ordination from HUC-JIR (Cincinnati '83). As a graduate student he held fellowships at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Medieval Hebrew Literature) and also spent time at the University of Tübingen (Jewish Literature of the Hellenistic Era). Prior to coming to HUC-JIR, Aaron taught Bible and Rabbinic Literature in the Religion Department of Wellesley College (1991-98) and Biblical Studies at Boston's Hebrew College (1987-91).
Dr. Aaron publishes in the areas of biblical and rabbinic (aggadic) liberature. His first book, Biblical Ambiguities: Metaphor, Semantics and Divine Imagery (Brill 2001) merges contemporary semantic theory with biblical exegesis, especially regarding metaphorical imagery in the Hebrew Bible. A second book, Etched in Stone: The Origins of the Decalogue, will be published inSpring 2006 (T & T Clark). He has also published articles on imagery of the divine in Rabbinic Literature, as well as on the origins of the concept, L'shon HaQodesh, in Judaism's Holy Language (Approaches to Ancient Judaism 16 (1999) 49-107).
Dr. Ehud Ben Zvi is a professor (History & Classics, and Religious Studies) at the University of Alberta. A former president of the Canadian Society of Biblical Studies, his publications include, History, Literature and Theology in the Books of Chronicles (forthcoming, 2006); Hosea (forthcoming, August, 2005); Signs of Jonah: Reading and Rereading in Ancient Yehud (2003); Micah (2000); A Historical-Critical Study of The Book of Obadiah (1996); and A Historical-Critical Study of the Book of Zephaniah (1991) as well as many articles and book chapters on matters related to historical and prophetic books of the Hebrew Bible and the introductions and annotations for the Twelve Minor Prophets in the Jewish Study Bible (2004). He has co-edited volumes on prophetic literature and in 1993 he co-authored with two of his (then) students the widely used Readings in Biblical Hebrew. An Intermediate Textbook. He has served, among others, as president of the Pacific-Northwest American Academy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature, chair of the Deuteronomistic History section of the SBL, and chair of the Hebrew Scriptures Section of the PNW-SBL. Ben Zvi currently serves as chair of the Prophetic Texts and Their Ancient Contexts group of the SBL. A winner of a Norman E. Wagner Award for innovative use of technology relating to biblical scholarship, he has been the General Editor of the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures since 1996.