Answers to Quora Queries
How many layers and redacters have been put on the Tanakh? Is there anyway to see what was originally there?
(21 March, 2018, 5 Nisan, 5778)
Ideally, you could learn Hebrew, if you do not already know it, and read the Bible for yourself. After that you could read what the pros and cons are.
If you cannot do that for whatsoever reason read it in English. Pick a section you think is problematic and try to find multiple authors for it. Do you really need it?
If it was not the Bible but another work could you take it as it is presented? As the work of one author for each book?
Perhaps the problem lies deeper? How would you deal with the works of another author? Shakespeare?
Do you have philosophical or moral complexes that compel you to reject Biblical authority?
Biblical Criticism originated mostly in Germany in the 1800s and 1900s when people knew less than they now do.
Many of the early promulgators were anti-Semites. Do you see significance in this?
Schechter had a point about prejudice. Many German critics were not disinterested academics, seeking a purely historical reconstruction of Jewish history and its central text. On the contrary, the biblical scholarship of Hoffmann and Schechter’s day was shot through withconceptions of Jews and Judaism. Ancient Israelites were often portrayed as illiterate, legalistic, and backward, in pointed contrast to enlightened Christians. The “Old Testament” was viewed as a necessary but outmoded precursor to Christianity at best, and as a primitive artifact to be scorned and discarded at worst. As Schechter observed, by denigrating the Jewish past, such scholarship served to justify the denigration of Jews in the present. (Tellingly, scholars have found affinities between this scholarship and later Nazi biblical exegesis.)