Friday, May 22, 2015

Fact-Checking the Torah -- epilogue

Come on, I know you’re dying to say it.
“But quoting out of context means taking only part of the words and you did that all the time while you supposedly were busting urban legends that quoted out of context.”
Two things.
Two millennia ago, the top rabbis of their generation looked back and saw that Jewish legal decisions had been reached by various methods, all of which depended on not just the wording of Torah, but also the sequence of verses and a number of other features.  They codified these 13 methods and gave Rabbi Ishmael the credit for them.  I discussed some of them under the names of gezerah shavah or qal va-chomer.
These principles do not require that all the verses used be end-to-end in the text.
I was telling you the conclusions drawn by the expert rabbis based on these principles, and what verses the principles are based on.  I was not making decisions for myself – and I told you when I was speculating and didn’t have a backup in Jewish law.
The people who create urban legends will tell you that the rabbis throw quotes into their discussions all the time and so “why shouldn’t I?”
The rabbis were not giving the quotes as deciding factors.  The rabbis were orienting their comrades to a section of Torah as the basis for a suggestion to be discussed and either accepted or rejected.  Sometimes it didn’t work and no decision was reached by the time the Talmud was written down.  Then you have to turn to Mishneh Torah, Shulchan Arukh, and later codes of Jewish law, to see if a decision ever came down.
Second thing.
I never used verbage taken out of context to mean the exact opposite of what it meant while in context.  Or pretended that it had a verb when it didn’t. 
When somebody quotes out of context, challenge them for book, chapter and verse.  If they can’t tell you where they got the quote, they are creating (or transmitting) an urban legend.  Reject it.  That will take care of about 80% of the people who throw quotes at you.
If they give you a citation, check it.  Check the whole paragraph.  Check the whole chapter.  Mostly, like Samuel Levine, you will find that they didn’t quote correctly, or that the context contradicts what they claimed.  Reject it.  That will take care of another 16 of 100 people who throw quotes at you.
If you have been studying Hebrew for this last 19 months, read the material in Hebrew.  You will likely find that they relied on a translation, and a bad one at that.  Reject it.  That will take care of about 3 more of 100 people who throw quotes at you.
The other person – will probably check out as right.  But you will only know that because you’ve done your homework.  And then you will BE that person.

Now let's dig into another Biblical  topic -- the archaeological digs.
© Patricia Jo Heil, 2013-2018 All Rights  Reserved

No comments:

Post a Comment