Difference between revisions of "Torah"

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The '''Torah''' (Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, meaning "Instruction", "Teaching", or "Law") is an ancient Hebrew text. It is a compilation of five semi-related books: [[Book of Genesis|Genesis]], [[Book of Exodus|Exodus]], [[Book of Leviticus|Leviticus]], [[Book of Numbers|Numbers]], and [[Book of Deuteronomy|Deuteronomy]] (using their English titles) and the first main section of the Jewish bible, the [[Tanakh]].
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[[Image:Torah - Scroll.jpg|thumb|256x256px|A Torah scroll from the Middle Ages.]]
  
==Authorship==
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The '''Torah''' (Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, meaning "Instruction", "Teaching", or "Law") is an ancient Hebrew text. It is a compilation of five semi-related books: [[Book of Genesis|Genesis]], [[Book of Exodus|Exodus]], [[Book of Leviticus|Leviticus]], [[Book of Numbers|Numbers]], and [[Book of Deuteronomy|Deuteronomy]] (using their English titles). The Torah is the first main section of the [[Judaism|Jewish]] bible, the [[Tanakh]], and their most important [[scripture]]. Many Jews place studying the Torah to be the most important thing a male Jew can do with their life (women have traditionally been barred from reading it). Jewish tradition presents the Torah in the form of a scroll, although it's becoming more popular to present it in the form of a book.
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Despite growing up Christian and attending church hundreds of times, I was never taught that the Jewish Torah is essentially identical to the Christian Pentateuch. The entire time I was a Christian I just assumed the Torah of some completely unique Jewish bible. It wasn't until I became an atheist and learned about other religions that I discovered that three quarters of the Christian bible is really just Jewish scripture. My first readings from the five books was through a clouded Christian lens, but, once I learned that the books were written by Jews, for Jews, I had a very different understanding of them when I read them as an adult. I find the Torah to be a valuable, albeit myopic, example of human history and culture, however, I find the content to be truly revolting, and I'm disgusted at how Jews fetishize the work.
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==Authorship and Dating==
 
[[Image:Documentary Hypothesis - Diagram.svg|thumb|256x256px|Diagram of the Torah's formation according to the [[documentary hypothesis]].]]
 
[[Image:Documentary Hypothesis - Diagram.svg|thumb|256x256px|Diagram of the Torah's formation according to the [[documentary hypothesis]].]]
  
The Torah ascribes the books to Moses, one of the characters mentioned in some of the books, and historians raised in cultures dominated by the Abrahamic faith accepted this without question. However, most historians today no longer ascribe the books to Moses and use an evidence-based approach to history which points to the books of the Torah having been written by multiple authors over a large span of time, and having been modified heavily throughout the process. The oldest portions are estimated to have been written around 900 BCE, with the last large modifications written around 500 BCE. The [[documentary hypothesis]] suggests four primary authors, the Jahwist source (J), Elohist source (E), Priestly source (P) and the Deuteronomist source (D), with redactors (R) making changes throughout the process.  
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According to the [[documentary hypothesis]], the most widely accepted historical origin of the Torah, each book of the Torah is an amalgam of various sources, each with a different set of authors, that slowly came together over a period of several centuries. Some of the sources date back as far as 900 BCE, but the bulk Torah's content was written around 600-500 BCE. As the compilation accrued, redactors made significant changes to the sources until around 400 BCE when the form that we receive today was essentially completed. Only minor changes occurred after that point. The oldest extant source material with have of any portion of the Torah comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls and dates back to around 250 BCE.
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The traditional origin of the Torah is that the character Moses, while alone on a mountain, was given the majority of the contents of the Torah by Yahweh. He later wrote down what Yahweh told him and included the details of the Hebrew tribe up to his death, around 1400 BCE. This origin was accepted without question by those who were raised in cultures dominated by the Abrahamic faiths until the 1800s when historians started seeking evidence for the claim. Not only did they not find any evidence to confirm the story, they found lots of evidence that it was wrong.
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==Content==
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There are five books of the Torah, each consists of different themes and multiple writing styles. [[Book of Genesis|Genesis]] is mostly fanciful stories, most of which are borrowed from earlier cultures. It also contains lineages of men and their bizarre exploits. [[Book of Exodus|Exodus]] begins with more exploits of men, but includes long lists of prohibited behaviors. [[Book of Leviticus|Leviticus]] is a work for priests describing how to worship Yahweh, make animals sacrifices to Yahweh, and atone for sins. [[Book of Numbers|Numbers]] describes the Hebrews slowly dying from Yahweh forcing them to wander in the desert. [[Book of Deuteronomy|Deuteronomy]] is essentially a retelling of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, but with notable differences.
  
 
==Links==
 
==Links==

Revision as of 14:56, 27 June 2019

A Torah scroll from the Middle Ages.

The Torah (Hebrew: תּוֹרָה, meaning "Instruction", "Teaching", or "Law") is an ancient Hebrew text. It is a compilation of five semi-related books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy (using their English titles). The Torah is the first main section of the Jewish bible, the Tanakh, and their most important scripture. Many Jews place studying the Torah to be the most important thing a male Jew can do with their life (women have traditionally been barred from reading it). Jewish tradition presents the Torah in the form of a scroll, although it's becoming more popular to present it in the form of a book.

Despite growing up Christian and attending church hundreds of times, I was never taught that the Jewish Torah is essentially identical to the Christian Pentateuch. The entire time I was a Christian I just assumed the Torah of some completely unique Jewish bible. It wasn't until I became an atheist and learned about other religions that I discovered that three quarters of the Christian bible is really just Jewish scripture. My first readings from the five books was through a clouded Christian lens, but, once I learned that the books were written by Jews, for Jews, I had a very different understanding of them when I read them as an adult. I find the Torah to be a valuable, albeit myopic, example of human history and culture, however, I find the content to be truly revolting, and I'm disgusted at how Jews fetishize the work.

Authorship and Dating

Diagram of the Torah's formation according to the documentary hypothesis.

According to the documentary hypothesis, the most widely accepted historical origin of the Torah, each book of the Torah is an amalgam of various sources, each with a different set of authors, that slowly came together over a period of several centuries. Some of the sources date back as far as 900 BCE, but the bulk Torah's content was written around 600-500 BCE. As the compilation accrued, redactors made significant changes to the sources until around 400 BCE when the form that we receive today was essentially completed. Only minor changes occurred after that point. The oldest extant source material with have of any portion of the Torah comes from the Dead Sea Scrolls and dates back to around 250 BCE.

The traditional origin of the Torah is that the character Moses, while alone on a mountain, was given the majority of the contents of the Torah by Yahweh. He later wrote down what Yahweh told him and included the details of the Hebrew tribe up to his death, around 1400 BCE. This origin was accepted without question by those who were raised in cultures dominated by the Abrahamic faiths until the 1800s when historians started seeking evidence for the claim. Not only did they not find any evidence to confirm the story, they found lots of evidence that it was wrong.

Content

There are five books of the Torah, each consists of different themes and multiple writing styles. Genesis is mostly fanciful stories, most of which are borrowed from earlier cultures. It also contains lineages of men and their bizarre exploits. Exodus begins with more exploits of men, but includes long lists of prohibited behaviors. Leviticus is a work for priests describing how to worship Yahweh, make animals sacrifices to Yahweh, and atone for sins. Numbers describes the Hebrews slowly dying from Yahweh forcing them to wander in the desert. Deuteronomy is essentially a retelling of Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, but with notable differences.

Links

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