Should Orthodox Bible Critics ‘Come Out of the Closet’?

With yet another discussion of the ramifications of TMS-denial over at R. Slifkin (it’s reaching the thousands, now…), I’ve been wondering:

Aside from James Kugel and Israel Knohl, there are a few Orthodox Jews – students and professors – who have accepted or grapple with the arguments of biblical criticism and remain frum. The same goes for those who have a more minimalist view of TSBP. Most ‘keep their heads down’ and only take private audiences with various religious ‘nevochim’. To do otherwise is to risk social ostracism.

I have to wonder whether it might not be more fruitful to encourage such people to instead ‘join the discussion’ and explain how they still remain faithful to Torah and Mitzvot (and God) in spite of their intellectual ones. It might provide a good venue to allow skeptical, rationalist frum Jews to struggle with the issue. Most importantly, it could lead to further elaboration and formulation of better answers and responses to a question which up until now has served as the Orthodox Jew’s kryptonite.

OTOH, the risks are obvious. Even if the critics don’t receive the expected opprobrium, the damage to the Orthodox public could be enormous. The sight of openly halachically observant Jews talking about E,J,P,D and/or denying that Sinai even happened &c could turn the present river of OTD into a tidal wave.

So what say you, dear reader – should we open up the venue for discussion or keep it behind closed doors?


Hi, my name is Avi Woolf. I'm an American-Israeli MO Jew living in Israel. I have a background in Israeli (as in Land of Israel) and Jewish History and an insatiable need for knowledge. I also have professional experience as an editor, translator and indexer. Enjoy the ride! If you are interested in using my services or just want to drop me a line, contact me at:
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2 Responses to Should Orthodox Bible Critics ‘Come Out of the Closet’?

  1. Moshe says:

    I say open it up. the charedi wrold thik we are all kofrim anyway

  2. fred says:

    belief really is not part of the day to day of orthodox jews. why make it so? it will only cause problems.
    to have people speak about this can cause more trouble in the sense that you may reduce the issue to sound bites.
    leave frumkeit alone. people have struggled with faith since hester panim, and somehow we continue.

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