*** DEBUG START ***
*** DEBUG END ***

Pragmatic interpretation of the Torah

by
30 January 2008

iStock

From Dr Irene Lancaster
Sir, — It is not true, as stated by Lord Harries (Comment, 18 January), that most people nowadays “regard [the law] in a very pragmatic way, not as the Jews thought of the Torah”.

The Torah has always been treated extremely pragmatically. It is the Christian world that has insisted that the Jews regarded their own sacred scripture as dogma, in contrast with “undogmatic” Christian theology, deemed to be superior to the “Old Law”.

Judaism would not have survived in the face of Christian persecution if the Jews had not been pragmatic. Even before that, the earliest interpreters of the Torah always had regard for context and the knowledge gleaned from so-called “secular” subjects.

Anglicans are in dire need of a thorough and ongoing education in Hebrew and Jewish norms. This type of education was far more common 20 or 30 years ago, when I was involved in clergy training. It appears that such courses are near to extinction. This is not good for Christian-Jewish relations.

IRENE LANCASTER
Medieval and Renaissance Center
Haifa University
Haifa, Israel

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear alongside your letter.

Top Feature

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)