What does scripture mean in Judaism?

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Lorraine Caplan | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Scripture in Judaism would refer to the five books of Moses:Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.  These books are also part of what is known to Christians as the Old Testament, but the Christian version contains more books.  Strictly speaking, I would say that the term "scripture" is the original text in Hebrew, which Jewish people are expected to be able to read in Hebrew by the age of 13, although these books are available in translation, too. These are the books that contain what God is said to have handed to Moses, so that he was acting as a scribe, not as an author, much as the Qur'an is said to be what Mohammed received from Allah. In addition to the first five books of Moses, what Jewish people call the Torah includes commentary on the first five books and interpretations of Jewish law over the centuries.  But the commentary would not be considered scripture.  This is akin to the distinction between the United States Constitution and its interpretations over the years by the United States Supreme Court.  The Constitution would be considered "scripture," and the case law would be considered commentary. 

 

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