An Exploration of Moshe Greenberg's Religious Vision and its Manifestation in His Bible Scholarship and Writings on Bible

April, 2010

This article is an attempt to explore the religious vision of Moshe Greenberg in some detail, and in particular, to analyze how his approach to education is applied to and reflected in his ideas about the teaching and learning of Bible, and in his own Bible scholarship itself. The paper examines the connection between Greenberg's philosophy of religion and Wilfred Cantwell Smith's conception of religion as a collection of religious “symbols,” one of which is the sacred text itself. The article includes an analysis of Greenberg's Bible scholarship and writings on Bible education.
The author concludes:
"Greenberg as religious thinker, as Bible scholar, and as Bible educator, is always motivated by the same core belief that humans have spiritual needs, that our souls demand understanding of the world around us, that we simply need, by our nature, to grapple with the basic ultimate questions of life. Judaism is one way—not the only way, but a time-tested, venerable, compelling way—to facilitate, activate, and empower our grappling with such questions. The Bible is Judaism's foundational textual resource, a resource that through its study propels the reader into an encounter with a transcendent realm.
The Bible scholar's task is to show how that happens; the Bible teacher's task is to help students experience that encounter with transcendence. We can learn much from Greenberg's approach to Jewish texts. When we read the Bible through the eyes of Greenberg, we ourselves will confront our deepest existential dilemmas, and perhaps, through our study, gain insights into those ultimate questions. Let us embrace those questions, those dilemmas, and the insights about them, and learn to help our students embrace them, too. After all, that is why we teach texts."
Updated: Oct. 05, 2010