A Critical and Creative Thinking Bible Curriculum

Date of Completion


Document Type

Open Access Capstone

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Delores B. Gallo


It is really not surprising that studying the Hebrew Bible can engender critical and creative thinking. For centuries, Jews have considered the text to be divine in origin, having meaning and importance not just for Jews 3,000 years ago, but for each subsequent generation. What may be clear, however, in one era may be obscure to those in another. Each generation pored over the text, bringing all their critical reasoning powers onto it, analyzing each word, measuring each phrase, coaxing from the text insight into the issues in their lives. However, like a miffed lover who is not placated solely by reasoned arguments, the Hebrew Bible does not yield all of its secrets to critical inquiry. Much of its wealth can only be derived through creative thinking, and centuries of rabbinic minds have utilized these abilities to search its depths. To a great degree, these have become what we recognize today as midrashim; the process (and product) of delving into the text to gain a deeper understanding. Critical and creative thinking have always been used to clarify and derive meaning from the Hebrew Bible. Jewish education, however, has often overlooked the explicit instruction of these thinking skills. The Jewish day school, which is already teaching a dual curriculum of Jewish and general subjects is hard pressed to find the time to add hours even something as important as thinking skills. What I have done in this thesis is demonstrate that Bible creative thinking literature and then I examine two methods of teaching these abilities and dispositions. This is followed by a curriculum unit and sample lessons which have the students learn the Hebrew Bible using the same skills that rabbis and other Jews have used for millennia. In this way, I hope the students will learn a deep understanding of and appreciation for their heritage, and through it the habits of mind so essential to possess in today's ever-changing world.


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