In this talk, we will look at recent theories on the development of the Torah (or Pentateuch, the first five books of the Bible). This section of the Bible has been inestimably influential in art, literature, and music, and understanding its historical context and origins offers great insight into the human journey. We will also address the issue of genre as it relates to biblical laws, and ask whether or not an accurate understanding of law codes in history should frame how we use biblical law in society and politics in America.
Samuel Boyd, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder, is a scholar of biblical texts and the ancient Near East. He researches the Bible through various critical methods and in light of wider historical contexts to understand both the production of these documents as well as their history of interpretation. His particular areas of research include the development of the Pentateuch (or first five books of the Hebrew Bible), law collections in the ancient Near East, language ideology in the ancient world, and ritual theory applied to biblical texts. He also has interests in archaeology, Semitic philology and linguistics, and Late Antiquity (Rabbinic biblical interpretation, Ethiopic Christianity, and the advent of Islam). Professor Boyd was the recipient of the 2016 Society for Biblical Literature Regional Scholars award, served as a Martin Marty Junior Fellow at the Divinity School at the University of Chicago, and was awarded a dissertation fellowship through the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2014.