Greenberg, Moshe

views updated


GREENBERG, MOSHE (1928– ), biblical scholar. Greenberg was born in Philadelphia, where after studying Bible and Assyriology with E.A. *Speiser, he obtained his Ph.D. in Oriental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954. The dissertation was published as The Hab/piru (1955). He received his rabbinical training at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America from which he also has a master's degree in Hebrew Literature.

He held various academic appointments at the University of Pennsylvania from 1954 to 1970, from assistant professor of Hebrew and Semitic languages and literature.

He became professor of Bible at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1970. From 1971 to 1981 he served as academic advisor for Bible curriculum at the Israel Ministry of Education and Culture where he endeavored to place the study of Bible in the school system into a Jewish context.

Greenberg's grammar of Biblical Hebrew is widely used. In The Religion of Israel (1971) he made the work of Bible scholar Yehezkel *Kaufmann accessible to the international community in his one-volume abridgment and English translation of Kaufmann's monumental work. His holistic approach to biblical books, already seen in his commentary on Exodus (Understanding Exodus, 1969), was a harbinger of the "Bible as Literature" movement of the late 20th century. The same approach is evident in his commentaries on Ezekiel (Anchor Bible, Ezekiel 120; (1983), Ezekiel 2137 (1997)). A particular contribution of Greenberg's is to employ midrash in the service of plain-sense exegesis. He has sought to understand the value system underlying biblical literature and its relationship both to the Ancient Near East and Jewish thought.

Greenberg served as the divisional editor (law and society in the Bible) for the Encyclopaedia Judaica, 1968–71, and was a member of the Bible translation committee for the Jewish Publication Society of America (1966–82).

Greenberg was always committed to disseminating the results of professional scholarship to non-specialists. From 1982 he was a member of the academic council of the Open University of Israel and from 1985 served as editor for the critical but readable multi-volume Hebrew commentary series entitled Mikra le-Yisrael ("Bible for Israel").The range of Greenberg's interest may be seen in the essays collected in M. Greenberg, Studies in the Bible and Jewish Thought (1995).

add. bibliography:

J. Tigay, in: dbi, 1:464–65.

[Elaine Hoter /

S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]