Monthly Archives: September 2014

Biblical Sensorium and Epistemology

9780567460912

Yael Avrahami’s monograph The Senses of Scripture: Sensory Perception in the Hebrew Bible (T & T Clark International, 2011) strikes a difficult balance in weighing the sensory language employed in scripture against the phenomenological meaning that could be ascribed to such ancient uses. “Are we studying what people thought about the senses, or are we studying the practical way in which people used the senses?” (p. 16).

At first glance, it would not be immediately clear that Yael Avrahami’s The Senses of Scripture is actually concerned with epistemology. Her primary focus is to understand the biblical authors’ uses of sensory language to describe experience. Avrahami seeks to understand epistemological motifs as they are described. In the end, her meticulous survey of the biblical texts and their cognate terms focuses on the division of sensory labor between hearing and seeing. Ultimately, she favors seeing as the primary epistemological tool in the human sensorium. In the long-ranging debates about wisdom and the primacy of either seeing or hearing, Avrahami is able to definitively demonstrate why seeing takes primacy.

This volume is a rich resource on a number of fronts for biblical scholars and theologians alike. Her final chapter, “The Centrality of Sight in Biblical Epistemology,” stands as a definitive summary with which all scholarship interested in the biblical depiction of knowledge must now wrestle. Given the name of the chapter, it comes as no surprise that she strongly concludes: “even if the supremacy of sight cannot be proved, it is nonetheless impossible to claim the inferiority of sight in biblical epistemology” (p 276).

INTRODUCTION: COMMON SENSE
Chapter One: MAKING SENSE OF THE SENSORIUM
Chapter Two: NUMBER OUR SENSES
Chapter Three: THE SENSORIUM: DEFINITION
Chapter Four: THEOLOGY OF THE SENSES
Chapter Five: THE CENTRALITY OF SIGHT IN BIBLICAL EPISTEMOLOGY
CONCLUSION: THE SENSES OF SCRIPTURE

10320512_10152427297871103_618553244699880311_nBesides being a member of the Hebrew Bible and Philosophy steering committee, Dr. Avrahami is the head of the department of biblical studies at Oranim Academic College (Haifa, Israel).

New Monograph on Philosophers’ Interactions with the Hebrew Bible

9783110340761

Seizo Sekine’s Philosophical Interpretations of the Old Testament will be reviewed for the Journal of Analytic Theology. It’s worth noting that one of the distinct contributions of this book is that it’s translated from Japanese and engages Japanese scholarship. For now, here is the publisher’s information:

Western biblical studies have tended to follow either faith-based theological approaches or value-free historical-critical methods. This monograph challenges the two extremes by pursuing the middle path of philosophical hermeneutics. While drawing on Eastern and Western philosophical writings from ancient to modern times, the author proposes original interpretive solutions to a wide range of important biblical texts, including the Akedah, Second Isaiah, the Decalogue, Qohelet, Job, and Jeremiah. Yet, this is not a collection of antiquarian studies. Readers will also gain fresh and stimulating perspectives concerning monotheism, religious faith and identity, suffering and salvation, and modern and postmodern ethics. Finally, in a supplementary essay, the author introduces readers to the history of Old Testament studies in Japan, and he outlines prospects for the future.