Jewish Studies Question

Torah as Philosophy Assignment

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Write on three of the following questions. Each response should be between 500-750 words.

  1. How does Kenneth Seeskin (mentioned in the Levenson article) address the challenge of finding contemporary meaning in the Torah while acknowledging its origins in an ancient culture? Discuss his approach to interpretation, including the distinction he makes between what the biblical authors said and what they meant.
  2. In his discussion of “God and Creation,” Seeskin explores the philosophical implications of the Torah’s assertion of divine creation. Explain the dilemma he presents regarding God’s freedom of choice and the nature of the created world. Analyze the historical and contemporary philosophical perspectives on this dilemma as discussed by Seeskin, including responses from premodern philosophers and modern scientists.
  3. Discuss the philosophical dilemma presented in Kenneth Seeskin’s analysis of the binding of Isaac (Akedah) in Genesis 22. Explore the conflicting interpretations of the command to Abraham, particularly focusing on the philosophical dispute between Kierkegaard and Kant regarding the nature of faith and moral law. Analyze Seeskin’s exploration of the consequences of Abraham’s obedience, including his interpretation of the angel’s intervention and its implications for understanding the relationship between fear of God and moral responsibility.
  4. Explore Kenneth Seeskin’s analysis of the physical aspects of worship in the Torah, particularly focusing on the philosophical dilemma of perceiving an invisible God through tangible acts of worship. How does Seeskin navigate the tension between physical ritual and spiritual significance? Discuss the implications of his argument for understanding the role of formal worship in religious practice.
  5. Critically evaluate the philosophical engagement with biblical texts, as exemplified by Kenneth Seeskin’s approach in his book. Considering Seeskin’s examination of creation theology and divine action, analyze the challenges and limitations of applying philosophical categories to biblical narratives. Discuss whether philosophy can adequately address the dynamic and transformative aspects of religious belief found in the Bible.