What is Torah? - Part 1: Created by Human Beings
The claim that sacred texts were written by human beings, not God, is most commonly thought of as serving a secular agenda.
For me, acknowledging the human hand that touches sacred texts strengthens my religious tendencies and feelings.
When I imagine the Torah as written by God, I become angry at the Torah and at God. The God-character in the Torah is male, is angry, and vengeful. How limiting of what is supposed to be infinite. How flawed of what is supposed to be perfect. How particular of what is supposed to be universal.
The moment I acknowledge the Torah was crafted by human beings, my anger is gone. I have compassion for my ancestors who, challenged by the profound limitations of intellect and human experience, endeavored to create the most profound, inspiring, instructive and meaningful text possible.
I feel inextricably linked to my ancestors who engaged in a sacred endeavor to put words to a vision for a just world. They also attempted to express their feelings/experiences/knowledge of God-connection into a form that would inspire others and fortify hope.
My ancestors thus become a model for me, and for all, to share our visions and plans for making the world a better place. My ancestors' example also becomes an invitation, a challenge, for me to translate my deepest sense of hope and connection into forms that may inspire others.
Acknowledging the human hand in sacred texts serves to reduce the inherent danger in religion. It insures that human responsibility and accountability can not be checked at the cloak room of textual authority.
There are, however, significant challenges for religious communities that make no claim for an authoritative text. Jewish language speaks of a system of divine commandments. How can a community maintain reverence for Jewish traditions and Jewish law while seeming to dispute the authority that stands at the core of those laws and traditions?