Rabbi David Bigman in his article The Dictation Model of Torah Revelation convincingly argues that the idea of Torah being entirely dictated to Moses, and then preserved over the generations (labelled as the "dictation model") is not an idea that is actually authentic in the Talmud or practically any writings before Rishonim I think. Rav Bigman traces the idea back to Rambam who was the originator of the dictation model, most likely as a response to the intellectual climate of the time, especially also with the Islamic idea of the corruption of the Torah that Maimonedes felt the need to defend, and promote the most literal view (this type of understanding is also promoted by other scholars like Rabbi Dr. Joshua Berman, though not in this particular context or at least I never heard him speak about this). But this seems to be an innovation and is not an authentic idea.

This isn't to say that the Torah is not Divine. Rather, it is to say that the method of transmission wasn't through perfect dictation. This need not mean that what we have is inauthentic or incorrect, with the exception to Maimonedes.

The question I have is this: Is this idea of the Torah being dictated and perfectly preserved without changes idolatrous/blasphemous/heretical. Here is my reasoning:

Let's say that we follow Rambam and believe that the Torah was dictated and perfectly preserved. But in reality, we have evidence that there likely were later insertions and possible scribal mistakes in copying. Having said that, if we believe that it was all dictated by G-d, blessed be He, then we are ascribing G-dly capcities and G-d's attributes onto a mere human being who was doing this work. If we consider every single Torah passage to be equally Divine (an innovative idea by Rambam, which was not known by previous sages), then we are de-facto possibly elevating a human being to the status of the Divine.

Hence, to subscribe to the idea that the Torah was perfectly dictated, rather than some parts were dictated by G-d, blessed be He, while others were merely Divinely inspired and would not have been allowed to continue should they have corrupted G-d's word as He would correct it, the former would be considered false and possibly heretical/blasphemous/idolatrous.

Is there anything wrong with this reasoning or would Rambam's idea not be considered heretical/blasphemous/idolatrous?

EDIT (and potential summary): I wrote this as a reply in the comments to someone, and I think it might be a useful summary of the idea, so I'm also pasting it here:

You misunderstood me. I'm saying that if Rambam was indeed the one who came up with the dictation model of the Torah, while in reality the Torah was only partially dictated & some other portion of it contains human writings (I think that this is the position of Rav Obadiah Sforno, ie the idea that the "Torah" that Moses received is only a certain number of teachings or even just a single teaching), then if we view the entire Torah as the literal, dictated word of G-d, we are viewing human writing as G-dly, thus elevating the humans who wrote it to G-d's status & that's blasphemous

Also, see the following chat between me and Shmuel where I explain some of the relevant views on this: here

  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Mi Yodeya Meta, or in Mi Yodeya Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – msh210
    Feb 27 at 11:21


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