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Talk:Hebrew Bible

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To learn how to fill out this checklist, please see CZ:The Article Checklist. To update this checklist edit the metadata template.
 Definition consists of religious works categorized into the Torah (Law), Nevi'im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings). [d] [e]

Well, at least give me credit for starting the checklist! Anyway, greetings and please have fun with the article. Of course, anyone can edit. However, I would sincerely appreciate it if people not tear apart the opening paragraphs quite yet. Maybe register your complaints and concerns with the opening here. There's so much more to fill in!

Basic orientation -- the article needs to be encyclopedic, but not necessarily boring and conventional. Everyone thinks they know about the Bible, let's try to tell readers some of the unexpected. More importantly, let's try to avoid Religious Points-of-View, which lead to bias, etc. Instead, I suggest a more scholarly apparatus and little or no religious presuppositions. Write as an atheist might about somebody else's religious scripture. For that reason, at least for the first sentence, I use the term 'god' and not God. Of course, 'God' is suitable in giving the reader the Bible's self-description of its creator, deity, and main character.

Since this article is created on the Write-a-thon, I urge people to create spin-off articles linked back to brief summaries under the -- now empty -- many subheadings. Thanks. Good luck! David Hoffman 09:42, 1 August 2007 (CDT)


Hey David, I fixed the checklist for you. I've found it easier to bookmark the checklist page [1] and just copy/paste it onto the talk page and filling it out that way.
I have two comments. First, I think we need to work on the opening sentence and give the reader a stronger definition as to what the Hebrew Bible is. In other words, something like "The Hebrew Bible is the primary religious text for the Jewish religion, and also makes up the Old Testament in the Christian Bible."
Also, I'm confused by some of the subheadings you've laid out. A lot of them refer to "the Bible", which makes me think Christianity. Is this the intent, or would the reader be better served with refering to it as the Hebrew Bible in those headings? Hope that helps. --Todd Coles 09:54, 1 August 2007 (CDT)
Hi David. Excellent start! One thing - the use of the word 'Plot' in a subheading. I would associate this purely with works of fiction. Would it be better to leave that heading just as 'Content Summary'? Anton Sweeney 10:27, 1 August 2007 (CDT)
Todd and Anton -- thanks for the help and feedback! Unless stated otherwise, all references to 'Bible' mean the Hebrew Bible. Feel free to add in the word Hebrew wherever you deem necessary. FYI The "Hebrew Bible" is not the same as the Old Testament, see books of the Bible. This can be clarified further in the article. Good question about plot, which I deliberately chose to lean our point-of-view toward the scholarly analysis of the Bible as a literary text. Still, you raise a good point and I'll think about it too. (Also, the section provides somewhat more than info on the narrative, which was my original intent. Ah well. David Hoffman 11:48, 1 August 2007 (CDT)

Have pen, will edit

Okay, I'm as big a fan of the bible as most, but you cannot start out by defining it as a work of genius.

I'd like to see the opening para have a clear, easy-to-read explanation of what the Hebrew bible is, that is, how it differs from the Christian one.

I'd also suggest that the first line say something about the one true God, I doubt very much the ancient Hebrews would have appreciated a reference to just any old god, a big biblical no-no!

Nice start, though--WTG!

Aleta Curry 17:21, 1 August 2007 (CDT)

Thanks for your ideas! As you may know, the very idea of using the term "Hebrew Bible" is fairly new in academia. Rather than Old Testament, the term is used precisely to enable us to discuss the Hebrew Bible without relying on a Christian standpoint. So it can be defined on its own terms, w/o needing to reference (inherently) how it differs from a Christian meaning. In terms of God/god, I agree that the ancient Hebrews, though a delightful bunch of party-goers, would have little interest in a neutral, global, encyclopedic description of their deity. Oh, and what was the difficulty with genius? Lots of people get called genius nowadays, so why not those who put together such a successful work? Perhaps you could suggest here, below, a sentence or two to clear explain the Hebrew Bible. Thanks again! David Hoffman 19:01, 1 August 2007 (CDT)
Hi again, David!
I think it's important, for the sake of consistency, fairness and inclusivity--(I'm going to stay away from the word "neutrality" for the present, as I'm heartily sick of it; for the reasons why, see the forums)--to draw objective distinctions between what *is*, what we wish *was*, what is an esoteric understanding, what is an inclusive understanding, what is correct techically, and what is the understanding of the general. It seems to me that politics, race and religion are going to be the real tests of the grand experiment that is CZ, and I hope we can rise to the challenge. </soapbox>
Applying this to the case at hand, let's start at the beginning with "genius". We do not call the bible a work of genius, even if we believe it is, for the same reason that we do not call Plato, Aristotle, Galileo or Einstein geniuses, even though most of us accept that they are. We may, however, reasonably mention that Einstein's name has become synonymous with "genius", and mention the ways in which it is used, (notwithstanding that, after years of marriage, I will bet you dollars to donuts that Einstein's wife sometimes referred to him as an "idiot").
Since the "Hebrew Bible" is a relatively new academic discipline, by all means say *that*. Do not presume knowledge on the part of the readers, and do not imply that other understandings of "the Bible" are incorrect or prejudiced, even if you believe that they are. (Having said that, you are certainly free to discuss the way any group *views* them as incorrect or prejudiced.) Keep in mind that many people who are not Christians nevertheless refer to a collective work known as the Bible as a literary work, and study its significance as a work that chronicles history (oral history or oral tradition, I should say) and cultural myth. I daresay your understanding is perfect if one is looking from within the context of Judaism, in the same way as "Jesus Christ" is perfect from within the context of Christianity, but "Jesus of Nazareth" is a better choice from without.
I cannot write the perfect thesis sentence off the top of my head, but I can start one. As a point of departure, how about "The Hebrew Bible" is a self-referential term used by Jewish scholars and academics to describe the scriptural works of the ancient Hebrews. It is a relatively new (circa 19XX) academic discipline, intended to enable academics to discuss, analyse and reference the Hebrew Bible without relying on comparisons to either a Christian or a secular viewpoint. Although it covers many of the same texts commonly known as the "Old Testament" of the standard Bible, there are significant departures. These include blah and blah blah.
God/god--I think it's fair, within this context, to distinguish.
Have fun! Aleta Curry 20:21, 1 August 2007 (CDT)
I like the sound of this introduction—it sounds much more academic than the current one (which would be more than suitable for a personal webpage but not an encyclopedia). As much as I like the Bible and agree with the sentiment, using language like "a work of genius" is inappropriate here because it is subjective opinion. I think the opening paragraph should be changed now as it seems to be the consensus here. I would do it now but it is not in my area of expertise or current research and I would probably just be using words taken from the above. Mark Jones 07:39, 3 August 2007 (CDT)

Footnote?

There is a footnote leading to nowhere in the introduction to this article. Does anyone know what this is supposed to be pointing to? Brian P. Long 11:11, 20 January 2008 (CST)

Just needed to reveal references. Done. Aleta Curry 05:19, 13 November 2008 (UTC)

Merge?

Given that the HB is just 1 version of the OT, do we really need a separate article rather than covering different approaches in 1 article? Peter Jackson 15:52, 12 November 2008 (UTC)

I think that may have been precisely the originating author's point, Peter. That is, to make a distinction between the Hebrew Bible and the Christian Old Testament.
I would think the one article, different sections approach would be fine, but then, I do not have the sensibilities of a Hebrew biblical scholar. We probably need a religion editor (or two or five) to settle this, and I doubt we have one on tap.
Aleta Curry 05:24, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
But it's not a case of difference between Hebrew Bible & Christian Old Testament. Rather, there are different Christian Old Testaments, & the Protestant one is identical in content with the Hebrew Bible, just differently arranged. Peter Jackson 11:41, 13 November 2008 (UTC)
I agree with Peter Jackson that it seems redundant to treat everything related to the Old Testament in this article. This is not to deny that from the Judaic perspective there are distinctive emphases and topics that need to be treated in exactly an article like this ("Hebrew Bible"). But since, as the opening paragraph admits, the term Hebrew Bible is a new term, it would seem a little progressive to adopt it here as the standard term for what most other people call the Old Testament. I would be in favor of a little give and take in favor of this traditional usage. Michel van der Hoek 22:46, 9 July 2009 (UTC)