Exploring Jewish Interpretation

Dr. Yeshaya Gruber, Professor of Jewish History and Culture

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Course info
Audio lessons

Course Info

The Bible consists of ancient texts, and the interpretive methods used to explain it are diverse and can be very complicated. We take the first verse of the Bible and explore how differently it can be understood. This course offers a brief survey of approaches and styles of Jewish commentators of biblical texts throughout history. The lectures offer an overview of prominent thinkers from ancient times to the present, including Philo, early rabbinic Midrashim, the Aramaic Targum, Rashi, Maimonides, Rabbi Soloveitchik, and many more. Interspersed with humorous observations about the nature and challenges of interpretation, this course is a must for anyone who wants to understand the ways of Jewish thinking about God's words a little better.

About Author

Dr. Yeshaya Gruber

Professor of Jewish History and Culture

Dr. Yeshaya Gruber is Professor of Jewish History and Culture at the Israel Bible Center and hosts the Roundtable Talks with leading scholars and authors in Biblical, Second Temple Period, and Jewish-Christian Studies. He earned his Ph.D. in History from Georgetown University and has held research and teaching positions in Jerusalem, Athens, Sydney, and elsewhere. His extensive travels, coupled with his research and teaching experience, help to enrich his students’ understanding of Jewish-Christian relations, history, and potential future paths. 

Dr. Gruber loves to study the interactions of Jewish and Christian texts, traditions, and communities from antiquity to the present. He is especially interested in how language differences and translations influence Biblical interpretation. He is also the co-founder of Kol Hakatuv, an Israeli startup offering high-quality translation and editing services. Dr. Gruber lives in Israel with his family.

  • 20 Sessions With historical background and more
  • Earn your certificate in:
    • Jewish Context and Culture
    • Hebrew Bible
  • 1,827 Active Students From all over the world
  • 3:36 Hours Learn at your pace and convenience


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Audio lessons

  • 01. Introduction to Jewish Styles of Interpretation 05:18
  • 02. Beginning in the First Verse of Genesis 12:03
  • 03. The Trajectory of Jewish Interpretation 09:04
  • 04. Strange and Fictional Interpretations 05:48
  • 05. Jesus' Methods of Scripture Interpretation 10:53
  • 06. The Approach of Philo of Alexandria 06:13
  • 07. More from the Hellenistic Jewish World of Philo 11:38
  • 08. Philo's Ideas and the "New Testament" 16:23
  • 09. Early Rabbinic Commentaries (part 1) 10:21
  • 10. Early Rabbinic Commentaries (part 2) 10:23
  • 11. Rabbi Akiva and the Talmud 17:18
  • 12. Aramaic Targum and Saadia Gaon 16:21
  • 13. Rashi's Methods and Approach 12:28
  • 14. Ibn Ezra's Linguistic Critique 08:30
  • 15. Maimonides' Rationalist Interpretation 18:44
  • 16. Nachmanides on Creation 05:42
  • 17. Isaac Luria and Rabbi Nachman of Breslov 14:25
  • 18. Rabbi Soloveitchik's Modern Orthodox Approach 14:27
  • 19. Rabbi Lord Sacks on Creation 06:13
  • 20. Conclusion: A Tradition of Questioning 04:12

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