The Pentateuch as Torah

Critical Praise for Gary N. Knoppers and Bernard M. Levinson (eds.)

The Pentateuch as Torah: New Models for Understanding

Its Promulgation and Acceptance

“This highly innovative collection of essays effectively orients students of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament to the many facets of contemporary Pentateuch studies. One of the

major benefits of the volume is that it truly offers several ‘new models’ for Pentateuch studies that are not hampered by tenuous and lengthy discussions of redaction criticism. Further, these new models are informative for as well as intelligible to non-specialized audiences. This volume is bound to make a valuable addition to the bookshelves of students, seminarians and scholars alike.”

—Andrew B. Perrin, Toronto Journal of Theology 24 (2008) 262–263

“This collection of 14 substantive essays aims to account for the reception of the Pentateuch as a uniquely authoritative document in the Persian and Hellenistic periods. The distinguished contributors to this erudite volume propose different models for how, when, why and where this took place. Readers will appreciate the introductory essay by the editors that surveys the complex and contested field explored, for the essayists present a bewildering array of theories. Most of the essays interact with the theory of a ‘Persian imperial authorization’ of the Torah, and this book represents the most sustained discussion of that theory since Persia and Torah (2001), edited by James W. Watts. . . . This is a useful volume for anyone who wants to come up to speed with what is happening in Pentateuchal studies. It shows the field is in flux, indeed it appears to be in crisis, with no theory able to secure a scholarly consensus.”

—Gregory Goswell, Australian Biblical Review

“This informative and well-written volume provides an excellent entry-point for scholars, advanced undergraduates and graduate students to explore the fast-changing world of Pentateuchal theory and the relationship of the Torah to its literary and cultural environment.”

—Daniel M. O’Hare, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern Religions 8 (2008): 253–57

“These excellent essays were first presented as papers or oral presentations at the 2006 international meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, and they were edited (very nicely) for publication in this volume in ways to render them more accessible to a wider audience of biblical scholars.

“Even though the central theme is the emergence of an authoritative Pentateuch, the authors touch on a number of topics that can be valuable for the scholarly interests of readers in the wider field of biblical studies and Judaica.”

—Robert Gnuse, Catholic Biblical Quarterly 70 (2008): 867–69

“The contributors to this volume seek models helping to understand the Pentateuch’s rise to prominence as a foundational collection of Scriptures in early Judaism and Samaritanism. Most of them focus on the growing acceptance of the Pentateuch in the Achaemenid and Hellenistic periods. In their endeavour Frei’s theory of a Persian imperial authorization often serves as a starting point. In their instructive introduction, the editors sketch the larger issues that lie at the background of the questions dealt with in the volume. . . . The volume is very well edited. Indexes enhance the usefulness of the collection.”

—J. Lust, Ephemerides Theologicae Lovanienses 84:1 (2008)

“The articles collected in this volume originated in four panels on biblical and ancient Near Eastern law convened during the 2006 International Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in Edinburgh. The panels investigated ‘the promulgation and acceptance of the Pentateuch as a prestigious writing in the late Persian and early Hellenistic periods’ (p. 1). However, the editors correctly note that the collection of articles goes well beyond conventional conference proceedings. All the articles were extensively revised, often repeatedly, in a thorough peer review process involving referees and the editors. While the editors offer thanks and apologies for the work they imposed on the authors, they need make no apologies to the readers of the final volume. The extensive review process shows in the consistently high quality of the work included.”

—David A. Bosworth, Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 9 (2009)

“There are many more very fine essays in this volume, and anyone interested in pentateuchal and/or Achaemenid studies would greatly benefit from every one of them.”

—Charles Halton, Bulletin of Biblical Research 19:2 (2009)

“Never [before, has there been] so many interesting details and far reaching aspects of the canonization of the Pentateuch presented in one book. I feel obliged to thank the editors for having organized this conference and done such an excellent editorial work. As they tell (p. 18) all essays were ‘doubly refereed’ and ‘extensively revised’ in order to provide the volume with a higher degree of consistence and legibility than normal. And I can confirm that the editors succeeded in their demanding task in most case.

“Thus, this significant volume makes good progress in clarifying the circumstances, under which the Torah has been canonized. It will be appreciated by all scholars, who are engaged in the recent Pentateuchal discussion, to which it has made a remarkable contribution.”

—Rainer Albertz, Journal for the Study of Judaism, 40:3 (2009): 420–24

“This volume significantly advances our understanding of the processes leading to the establishment of the Torah in its present forms as the foundation document of the Jewish and Samaritan communities. . . . The essays . . . taken as a whole . . . form a contribution which no future work on the subject will be able to ignore.”

—W. J. Houston, Vetus Testamentum 59 (2009)

“This volume of essays is a “must have” for any researcher, teacher, graduate student, or high-level undergraduate student interested in the promulgation and acceptance of the Pentateuch/Torah as authoritative sacred writings for the Jewish and Samarian communities during the late Persian and early Hellenistic Periods. While these 14 essays started out as papers given at an international meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature held in Edinburgh (July 2006)m collectively, they read as much more than a standard proceedings volume. Each essay provides an overview of past research into an aspect of the development of Torah during the post-exilic period, a critique of weaknesses in those approaches, and a proposal for (a) new way(s) of understanding how the first five books became the foundational text not only for the Jewish communities in Yehud/Judea and the diaspora but also for (b) the Samarian (later Samaritan) community.

“The editors are to be congratulated for focusing on ‘cutting edge’ issues, helping to transpose these conference papers into tightly-organized but accessible essays (with all lengthy German and French quotations translated into English), and bringing these provocative pieces of first-class scholarship to a wider audience speedily.”

—Gordon J. Hamilton, Studies in Religion, 2008

“The Torah as the Pentateuch stimulates thinking, keeps the debate alive, and is a good resource for pentateuchal studies.”

—Patrick Mazani, Andrews University Seminary Studies 46 (2008): 282–86

“. . . valuable collection of essays.”

—Graham I. Davies, SOTS Book List 2009 =JSOT 33 (2009): 157–58

“Der vorliegende Aufsatzband ist das Ergebnis einer Tagung der Arbeitsgruppe ‘Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Law’ der Internationalen Konferenz des Society of Biblical Literature in Edinburgh, 2006, und gibt einen hervorragenden Einblick in die aktuelle Diskussionslage in der Pentateuch-Forschung.”

—Tobias H. Duncker and Reinhard Achenbach, Zeitschrift für Altorientalische und Biblische Rechtsgeschichte 14 (2008): 499–506

“Le volume reflète le travail d’un atelier organisé lors de la rencontre internationale de la Society of Biblical Literature à Édimbourg en 2006. Ces rencontres forment un lieu important d’échanges entre l’Europe et l’Amérique du Nord en matière d’exégèse biblique. En ce qui concerne la problématique liée à la promulgation de la Torah en tant que loi religieuse, le volume prouve surtout que l’on est encore très loin d’un quelconque consensus.”

—Jan Joosten, Revue d’histoire et de philosophie religieuses 88 (2008): 233–35

“Insgesamt ergibt sich mit dem Sammelband ein repräsentativer Überblick über die derzeitige Forschung zum Themenbereich um Abschulss und Durchsetzung des Pentateuchs. Der Sammelband bietet sich dabei auch für einen schnellen Neueinstieg in diesen wichtigen Forschungsbereich an und ist trotz der besonderen Ausrichtung auf den englischsprachigen Markt auch für den deutschsprachigen Wissenschaftsraum sehr zu empfehllen.”

—Raik Heckl, Orientalistische Literaturzeitung 105 (2010): 197–203