To the Editor:
It may be mere captiousness to mention that Moshe Greenberg (“Biblical Criticism and Judaism,” March 1953) has not written the article described by the title and subtitle of his piece, but it is not captiousness to point out that the article he has written is a scattered and confused exposition of the problems and findings of Biblical textual exegesis. . . .
In the matter of recensions of the original [Biblical] material, it would be well to Dear in mind that revisers are not ipso facto fools, while the pious retention of conflicting details which has created the difficulties in the text, at the same time serves to authenticate it.
Mr. Greenberg mentions the school of Jewish commentators which included the grandson of Rashi (parenthetically, the name of the Rashbam was Samuel, not Solomon as he has it) and Abraham Ibn Ezra whom he rightly describes as the first modern critic. But he has apparently been rummaging through the Talmud only for curios, to use Schechter’s expression. Although Mr. Greenberg declares that it was assumed “that each of the Biblical books was as a rule the complete product of a single author,” some eight hundred years before Ibn Ezra the Talmudic Rabbis, though still maintaining the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch as a whole, ascribed the last eight verses of Deuteronomy to Joshua (B. Bathra 14b); they asserted that only a part of the books bearing his name had been written by Samuel (B. Bathra 15a); and ascribed to Hezekiah and “his company” the editing of the book of Isaiah and of part of the Hagiographa, and to the “Men of the Great Synagogue” the editing of the Book of Ezekiel, of the Twelve Minor Prophets, and of other scattered portions of the Bible ¢B. Bathra 15a). Other portions of the Talmud indicate that it did not need the piercing light of “modern” criticism to show “that the degree of divine illumination has not been the same throughout the ages.” Men are divinely inspired, but they are only men subject to their spiritual as well as their physical milieu, and their intellectual and spiritual capacities must determine the form of their presentation of the divine truth which has come to them. “Isaiah and Ezekiel both saw the King,” we read in Hagigah 13b, “but Isaiah like one that dwells in a city, Ezekiel like a villager.” Even Moses who alone had seen God and was thus the fittest receptacle for the divine outpourings was incapable of revealing the divine truth perfectly (B. Bathra 88b). . . .
East Orange, New Jersey