Inspired or Dictated?


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Montgomery, Alabama
Is every word of the Tanack percieved to be the Word of G-d, in the sense that it has been dictated to the Prophets/writers by G-d?

Or is the Tanack percieved to be inspired by God, that is to say not dictated but the Prophets were free to choose the words to describe events or ideas and use their own style of writing - but nonetheless his hand guided by G-d?

Or - is the Tanack percieved to contain the Word of G-d, that is to say when the text says: "The Lord saith...." or stuff like the 10 Commandments. The rest being human commentaries on it?

Please give your own view and mention the view of Judaism in general. :p
It is the belief in Judaism that the five books of Moses(with some points of contention) were dictated directly by G-d to Moses, he then wrote them down verbatim. Some things, in particular the ten commandments, were told by G-d to all of the assembled Jews in front of Mount Sinai. They were not holy enough to handle the power of his words, and so they begged Moses to act as intermediary between them and G-d.

Even in orthdoxy there are some disagreements about certain specific things.

1) There are a handful of typos due to scribal errors over the millenia(a definitive version of the Torah was created by Masretes in the 7th or 10th century c.e. and this is the Torah we have today).

2) There are also a few phrases that we believe are Joshua's writings.

3) There is evidence of a book that according to the talmud was removed from the Torah, but according to the midrash is just from a book of prophecy.

4) Some feel that Deuteronomy was written by Moses as sort of his interpretation of specific events.

For a super detailed discussion of all the different camps on Torah interpretation, checkout:

I personally feel that the Torah is as G-d intended it to be. All such "mistakes" and "contradictions" are therefore the will of an infinite creator manipulating circumstances to arrange the Torah in exactly the way He wishes.
That is not the only belief in Judaism. From Emet Ve-Emunah, the Statement of Principles of Conservative Judaism within the section on Revelation:

"The single greatest event in the history of God's revelation took place at Sinai, but was not limited to it. God's communication continued in the teaching of the Prophets and the biblical sages, and the activity of the Rabbis of the Mishnah and the Talmud, embodied in Halachah and the Aggadah (law and lore). The process of revelation did not end there; it remains alive in the Codes and responsa of present day.
Some of us conceive of revelation as the personal encounter between God and human beings. Among them there are those who believe that this personal encounter has propositional content, that God communicated with us in actual words. For them, revelation's content is immediately normative, as defined by rabbinic interpretation... Others, however, believe that revelation consists of an ineffable human encounter with God. The experience of revelation inspires the verbal formulation by human beings of norms and ideas, thus continuing the historical influence of this revelational encounter.
Others among us conceive of revelation as the continuing discovery, through nature and history, of truths about God and the world. These truths, although always culturally conditioned, are nevertheless seen as God's ultimate purpose for creation. Proponents of this view tend to see revelation as an ongoing process rather than as a specific event."

from p. 20

That is from the most conservative of the liberal movements. I side more with Reconstructionism, which does not believe in a supernatural God. I believe that Torah (with all related texts included) is a sort of cumulative wisdom of the Jewish people. But that wisdom and all wisdom may be God's voice calling out from within us. I also believe the text is only sacred because we hold it to be sacred, but that it is possible that there is a divine plan and every sacred text is meant to be sacred to some person at some time, and every text is sacred because God deems it so.

That's a very heavily spammed messageboard they have there. I'm tempted to lift those pages out and repost them here, if they're worth preserving.
Heh, no problem dauer, sometimes I forget that not every Jew is orthodox. In any case, I think it would be a noble goal to try and preserve some of the information on that site. I stumbled upon it really at random, but it has some tantilizing stuff.
Thanks for that link, but it dealt mainly with the Torah (Pentauch) of Moses.

What about the Writings and Poetry? (Song of Solomon, Ruth etc)
Brian, what they have is definitely worth preserving.

robocombot said:
Thanks for that link, but it dealt mainly with the Torah (Pentauch) of Moses.

What about the Writings and Poetry? (Song of Solomon, Ruth etc)

Unless it has a different name, I don't think song of solomon is in the Tanach. You can view the contents here:

[off topic](See NaN, I don't hate ChaBaD. Does that abbreviation seem offensive? Somehow that one looks a little rude. I abbreviate all long names.)[/off topic]

I think the traditional understanding is that both Nevi'im and Ketuvim were written under the the influence of the ruach hakodesh, the spirit of God, which in Judaism does not have to do with a particular entity but instead with a much higher state of thought and intuition, kinda like being in the spirit for a good game of dodge ball... but different. And the Ruach hakodesh is also supposed to have influenced the writing of the Talmud.

But I think there's a difference between ruach hakodesh and the level of prophecy. Someone else can answer that.

In the liberal movements if someone believes Torah is divinely inspired, they probably feel NaCH (prophets and writings) is inspired as well, to a lesser level. The order of importance is the order of canonization, which is the order of the sections.

E-mail from the site bounced. So I'll lift the essays out with their copyright notice, repost them in the Judaism section, and try to solicit actual permission at a later date.