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Critique of Intelligent Design

Evolution vs. Creationism

The Art of ID Stuntmen

Faith vs Reason

Anthropic Principle

Autopsy of the Bible code

Science and Religion

Historical Notes


Serious Notions with a Smile


Letter Serial Correlation

Mark Perakh's Web Site


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Title Author Date
Exegesis vs. Eisegesis Holloway, Simon Nov 13, 2005

Your letter is superb but, while I thoroughly agree with most of your
arguments, I must say that I differ with you regarding your conclusions.
You have attempted to present the Sages of the Talmud(s) as rogues, bent on
manipulating the Torah text as a means of buying themselves power, a power
which they systematically used to subvert those who disagreed with them.
While there is no denying the schismatic nature of the Rabbinic movement
(or, indeed, any other), I think that this demonisation is a little

You make the extremely valid point on p.66 (according to my printed-out
copy) that "of course, it is possible that the law really pre-dated the
exegesis". Such a phenomenon, common in Judaism, is not called exegesis at
all, but 'eisegesis'. It is the practise of finding a textual support for a
longstanding tradition. You followed this observation up with two
questions: an enquiry into the source of the law, and a question regarding
the purpose of the homily. As you answered neither of those questions in
your text, I am assuming that they were both rhetorical.

The supposition that the homily may have served an eisegetical purpose is
too important to the issue for it to be brushed aside so lightly. I am
certain that individual traditions did not extend back to "Moses at Sinai",
but I am equally certain that a group of belligerent grey-beards did not
sit down and make them all up. These were longstanding traditions which
already held validity to an entire community of people. All that the Rabbis
did was utilise the texts that they loved to give them some kind of

Is that so bad?
Related Articles: Letter to My Rabbi

Title Author Date
Exegesis vs. Eisegesis Zeligman, Naftali Nov 13, 2005
Dear Simon--

The issue I dealt with in the relevant part of my "Letter" was not whether it is good or bad to sanctify "longstanding traditions which already held validity to an entire community of people" and to "utilise the texts that they loved to give them (viz., the traditions) some kind of sanction." It may well be that the Rabbis did just that in many cases (though not always -- they did innovate something, didn't they?). But the issue I dealt with was whether the Rabbinic statements which have claimed to be derived from the Written Torah and which exercise, accordingly, the authority of the latter, are indeed derived therefrom. If they are not derived from the Written Torah -- which, I think, I have shown in a good number of cases -- there is no principal difference between the Rabbinic teaching (the Oral Torah, if you wish) and the way of life of any other traditional society, where some things are accepted as normative beacause that's how they have been for a lot of time. In other words, there is nothing inherently more "Divine" in the Rabbinic teaching.

(Of course, I don't think that the Written Torah stems from a Divine source either, and in my "Letter" I explained why that is so, but that's another question.)