Jewish history added to the Tanakh?
March 20, 2011 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Will the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) ever be appended to include events such as the Shoah (Holocaust) and the foundation of Israel?
posted by Tom-B to Religion & Philosophy (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
By who? I mean, it's certainly possible that someone, somewhere, would write up something and call it the sixth book of Moses (see: Book of Mormon) but the odds of even a plurality of Jews accepting it as legitimate are very, very low. And liketitanic is correct - there are other, accepted methods of recording events.
posted by restless_nomad at 11:54 AM on March 20, 2011

The line between the end of the OT and the Holocaust is about 2500 years, and passes through fun times like the Crusades and the Inquisition.
posted by mkultra at 12:10 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

There's no established procedure for doing it, and no one in the Jewish mainstream is doing it or would look kindly on it. In the future? Religions have changed before. If Judaism is still around in 2,000 years, who knows what it will look like?
posted by grobstein at 12:20 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Will the greek scriptures be appended to include the emergence of Protestantism? Will the Mahabharata be appended to include colonization by the British? Will the writings of Confucius be appended to include an analysis of the moral significance of Communism?
posted by clockzero at 12:34 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Unless such updates included the alteration of Deuteronomy, which contains multiple injunctions against adding to or subtracting from the biblical canon, I'd say this is pretty unlikely to happen in any but the most liberal sects. It's an interesting idea, though.
posted by Rhaomi at 12:43 PM on March 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

You never alter a work considered sacred that comes from way back. However, that said, I have been at a number of services in which the Holocaust is noted as part of a tradtional holiday service.
posted by Postroad at 1:21 PM on March 20, 2011

The question I'd respond to your question with would be:

Who would write it?

Since there is no acceptable answer, it cannot be done.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:05 PM on March 20, 2011

Is your question actually about the historical process of the canonization of the Hebrew Bible? Or about the religious understanding of what's included and what's not?
posted by Salamandrous at 5:11 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yeah, uh, no.

As I understand it, the Jewish tradition recognizes all of the authors of the Scriptural texts to have been prophets, with the exception of Daniel, though that distinction appears to be something of a technicality. Any further additions to the canon would need to be prophets as well. The Jewish tradition hasn't recognized a true prophet, i.e. one who speaks for God, in about 2500 years. Heck, 1 Maccabees says in several places that there were no prophets in Israel, and that happened in the late 2d century BC.

Again, as I understand it, the Jewish tradition basically regards the canon as basically closed. The idea is that if it were appropriate to add to the canon, everyone would know it. Which is, admittedly, the same argument the Christian church makes, but there you have it.
posted by valkyryn at 7:17 PM on March 20, 2011

Religious groups in the Judaeo-Christian traditions are broadly defined by the scripture they accept. It's essentially an assertion that these particular books contain a special divinely-inspired (or written, or dictated) message and it's therefore a fundamental challenge to the authority of anyone who doesn't accept that particular scripture. The difference between Jews and Christians is use of the Christian scriptures. The difference between Christians and Muslims is, once again, defined by the scripture each group accepts. So if anyone ever writes something about the Holocaust and it gets adopted by some Jewish group as a divinely-inspired piece of scripture then that group will be fundamentally distinct from Jews as a whole.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:42 PM on March 20, 2011

Shoah and other modern events are often referenced in the Haggadah, the book that is read during the Passover Seder. Aside from certain prayers, rituals and elements of the story that must be included the Haggadah has been traditionally open for interpretation and adaptation. In fact celebrants are urged to make the story meaningful and adding new elements to the service is encouraged.
posted by brookeb at 9:37 PM on March 20, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Tanakh itself is essentially frozen to include the 24 books that it does. It represents a selected collection of books that the editors deemed fit to freeze time, or canonized, way back around 1st century BC. Very old examples, such as the Dead Sea scrolls, include these 24 books, with few exceptions (the scrolls do not have the Book of Esther, apparently because it occurred overseas).

While specific groups continue to amass stories and legends which constitute their collective identity, these are not integrated into the Tanakh per se, at least as far as Judaism is concerned. Jewish theological writing has been centuries upon centuries, and traumatic events such as the Holocaust were no exception. But the scripture seen as the Tanakh is likely resistent to any major change.
posted by eytanb at 9:12 AM on March 21, 2011

Your question is based on an underlying assumption that the purpose or special nature of the Hebrew Bible is to serve as a repository for history, specifically Jewish history. In contrast, the traditional sources of Judaism (Midrash, Talmud) seem to assume that the Bible's unique nature has to do with infinity of meaning, fixity of text, and connection to the divine.

What makes the Bible the Bible is a serious question requiring careful thought. If you have any interest in the intellectual history of the topic, there could be several starting points for an investigation: the discussions in the Talmud concerning questions of canonization (in a period when the canon was still fluid); the crisp definitions of the nature of Torah by the philosophers, pre-eminently Maimonides; the many figuratively-expressed meditations on the nature of Torah in Aggadic literature.
posted by Paquda at 1:42 PM on March 23, 2011

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