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Sacred Text as an Irreducible Phenomenon: Moses Mendelssohn’s Defence of Rabbinic Hermeneutics

Dr. Tsachi Slater

While Moses Mendelssohn’s commentary on Qohelet aimed to explain the sceptical and heretical positions of the biblical text in accordance with natural religion, the first part of his introduction addresses rabbinic hermeneutics. Based on the fourfold notion of biblical interpretation (the so- called PaRDeS), Mendelssohn claims that the sacred text, and indeed language itself, should be regarded as a saturated phenomenon that cannot be reduced to its straightforward meaning or common explanation. This paper explores this unique stance towards rabbinic exegesis and how it may explain several peculiarities in Mendelssohn’s own text.

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