A Moral Argument Against Absolute Authority of the Torah

Sophia 60 (2):307-329 (2019)
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Abstract

In this article, I will argue against the Orthodox Jewish view that the Torah should be treated as an absolute authority. I begin with an explanation of what it means to treat something as an absolute authority. I then review examples of norms in the Torah that seem clearly immoral. Next, I explore reasons that people may have for accepting a person, text, or tradition as an absolute authority in general. I argue that none of these reasons can justify absolute authority if the authority prescribes norms that we strongly judge to be immoral. I then respond to three objections to my argument. I end with a note explaining why, contrary to a popular trend, the narrative of the binding of Isaac is not a good place to start this discussion.

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Dan Baras
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat Gan

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