"Structure is theology." ~ Jacob Milgrom
The Woven Torah is "A new new approach to the study of the Torah ... based on an original discovery which has been published in peer-reviewed journals and is consistent with traditional Jewish understandings ... The Torah ... was constructed as a non-linear text. In order to view them as they were constructed, they have been laid-out as tables, or weaves." ~ Moshe Kline
A Brief Introduction to the Weave
My Story with the Woven Torah. I love preaching books of the Bible. In late 2019, I set out on a particularly difficult challenge. I wanted to preach the most misunderstood and perhaps frustrating of all biblical books: Leviticus. This is the book that people throw across the room on their "through the Bible in a year" plan, as they just can't take all those laws and details. They just don't know what to do with it.
Early on in that study, I came across a brilliant scholar named Mary Douglas, an English professor who also just happened to love Leviticus. Her endlessly fascinating discovery was that Leviticus was laid out, compositionally, to emulate the Tabernacle. She proposed the idea of a journey, that the first few chapters deal with things in the courtyard, next come things in the Holy Place, and it finishes in the Most Holy Place.
In the course of that study, I came across the work of a scholar named Moshe Kline, a Jewish teacher in Jerusalem who also happened to be mentored by Douglas and their mutual friend, one of the great OT scholars in recent history, Jacob Milgrom.
Kline took this idea of a composition written to emulate its central organizing theme to new levels. Leviticus, he said, was a journey through the tabernacle, but we are in the Most Holy Place in ch. 19 with the law, then we move out back into the community. But Kline didn't stop with Leviticus. The short of the story, which I now know first hand as I have been studying with Moshe since 2021, is that in studying the Mishna, he came across an ancient reading of that text which which showed it was a composition, and not just a list of regulations--a text best understood when the laws were arranged in parallel. Kline reckoned the composer of the Mishnah actually got this way of arranging the text from the Torah. So he proposed a new way of reading the Mishnah and the Torah as a weave--a woven text, with warp and weft threads that parallel and contrast with one another, to make up different patterns.
The incredible thing is that this works on the level of a section (such as the Ten Commandments or the Ten Plagues), or a whole book (all five books of Moses, not just Leviticus, are patterned to look like different things, and the level of the Torah, which combines together all five books into a woven "map" or "weave" with deep theology at every level. Those weaves create pictures that the books themselves are based upon, such as the tabernacle in Leviticus or the camp in Numbers, and so on. As Milgrom astutely commented: "Structure is Theology."
It is a passion of mine to see Moshe's work passed on, because I believe it can greatly help people understand the first five and most foundational books of the Bible. But more, they can give a sense of the infinite mind of God that is unlike anything I've ever come across. The weave drives me to worship God!
Below I will give links to resources, pages, books, videos, and other materials that I think will help you investigate this more. I'll organize it in a way that makes sense from beginner to more advanced. Should you take the challenge, I promise you will never see your Bible the same way again. God is truly, TRULY amazing.