Sources Metaphorical or poetical but not literal word of God as revelation at Sinai


Highly recommended lecture by Professor Shaye J.D. Cohen: The Hebrew Bible 2013, Lecture 14: The Image of God and the Name of God in these Texts.

In this age of electricity, our conception of lightning is very different from the conception of it held in all ancient mythologies which viewed it as a weapon of the gods. Nevertheless, lightning is as much a fact as it ever was. Similarly, the reality of God is as true as ever, despite the dissipation of the thick clouds of miracle with which tradition enveloped it.

Mordecai Kaplan, The Future of the American Jew (1976) pp. 200-201

Analogously, the myths of the Bible, e.g., the Garden of Eden episode, the deluge and Tower of Babel, the miracles in Egypt, are differently interpreted by different generations. Although I may question their historical accuracy, they remain significant because the common moral intention of their telling can be translated in non-miraculous terms.

 Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, From God To Godliness: Proposal For A Predicate Theology (1975)


We thus cannot ignore Sinai, but rather need to reinterpret this event so it will continue to function for us. … Sinai teaches us that fundamental moral truths are in some way part of the fabric of the universe and that at the root of the Jewish belief is the conviction that morality, justice, and mercy are, therefore, divine. In a poetic and metaphorical—though never literal—sense, these qualities endure as the word of God.

Mel Scult The Radical American Judaism of Mordecai Kaplan (2014) p. 122


Salvation for Mordecai Kaplan meant three things – growth, creativity and integration. Growth and religion were identical for Kaplan. In his diary he put it this way: “ . . . growth itself is a prerequisite to making the most out of life, for growth is the progressive realization of the potentialities latent in us, potentialities physical, mental, social and spiritual. Growth is thus a prerequisite to finding life worthwhile.”

Kaplan Diary, December 16, 1942