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When the Truth Is Not What Actually Happened: The Epistemology of Religious Truth in Orthodox Jewish Bible Study
This paper uses data from Jewish religious chumash (Bible) study to examine how students’ conceptions of biblical truth are grounded in the particular forms of chumash study they engage in. Using data from clinical interviews with Orthodox Jewish Bible students, we argue that, in relation to the biblical text, questions of truth are functionally meaningless; that is, they are irrelevant to the implicit epistemology embedded in the practice of chumash study. Because of this, students were unable to coherently answer questions about the truth-value of the biblical text, even while engaging in sophisticated reasoning about its literary character. This has implications for how religious schools and teachers approach religious study of traditional texts.
Updated: Jul. 17, 2019