Is the Bible an Algebra-textbook?

Is the Bible an Algebra-Textbook?

In an algebra-textbook you expect to find complicated equations with letters representing various numbers. The textbook only gives you some of the numbers in the equation and you have to work your way backwards in order to figure out what each letter represents. Only after you have read the entire equation and only after you have made all of the appropriate calculations can you determine with any certainty what particular number each letter is representing.

Is the Jewish Bible the same type of book?

Allow me to explain my question. The first verse in the Bible reads: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth”. Let us pause for a moment. What does the word “God” mean? What does that word represent? Did the Divine Author expect us to know what the word God means before we complete reading the book? Or can we only expected to figure out what the word “God” represents by reading the entire book – and working our way backwards in order to make a positive identification?

The answer to this question is explicitly presented in this same book. In Deuteronomy chapter 4 Moses reminds the Jewish people (- the intended audience of the book – Deuteronomy 33:4, Psalm 147:19,20) – that God Himself taught them to know Him (Deuteronomy 4:35). The Jewish people were introduced to God long before the book of Genesis was presented to them. Sinai was not simply an informative teaching on the nature of God. It was the sealing of a covenant between Israel and God. God bound Himself together with Israel at Sinai – and we are married to Him ever since.

Not only are the Jewish people expected to know the meaning of the word “God”, but they are expected to already find themselves in a deep, intimate and committed relationship with God before they read the first word of the Bible. The Bible must be read in the context of this knowledge that God granted to the Jewish people and in the context of the relationship that already exists between Israel and God – otherwise the Bible will have been wrenched out of its covenantal context.

The Bible is NOT an algebra-textbook.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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2 Responses to Is the Bible an Algebra-textbook?

  1. Pingback: Study Notes and References | 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

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