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Ah, yet another easy question. :-)
The traditional view is that G-d gave the Jewish people the entire Torah; hence the Torah is the word of G-d. As described above, the Torah consists of a written and an oral portion (although much of the oral portion is now written down). Of the written portion:
The first five books (Pentateuch, Chumash) were dictated by G-d to Moses, while Moses was in a conscious and aware state.
N'viim (the Prophetic writings) were transmitted by G-d to the prophets by various means (such as by a dream or vision) and transcribed by the prophet in his (or her) own style and wording. G-d communicated with all prophets (except Moses) through dreams or visions. These writings are considered a level "below" that of Moses. Specific laws are not derived from the Prophets, except through examples of how a mitzvah was actually performed. There were many more prophets in the history of Israel than are recorded in the Neviim. See Section 12.11 "Who were the prophets?"
K'Tuvim (Sacred Writings) were the result of "Ruach HaKodesh" (roughly: "Divine Inspiration"), which is one level below "prophecy". Visions from the writings are more mystical and may be complete allegory. Unlike prophecy, they do not have to come true.
The Rambam defines a number of different "levels" of prophecy (based on the method through which the prophet received the message and the clarity with which he/she received it) and points out that they do not have to function on the same level at all times. For example, many people include Daniel among the prophets while his book is in K'Tuvim. Other examples are King David and Tehillim or Jeremiah and Eichah (Lamentations).
The Liberal movements hold less with the notion of the Torah being the actual word of G-d, and more with the notion of the Torah being of divine inspiration, written in the language and context of its time:
Conservative. The Conservative movement teaches that the Torah is not one long quote from G-d, but rather is a human document that was written in response G-d's revelation of himself to us at Mount Sinai. Within the Conservative movement are basically two schools of thought with regards to the content of Revelation:
Rabbi Solomon Schechter is a good example of the traditionalists, who explicitly taught that G-d not only revealed his existence, but G-d also presented Israel with specific ideas and commandments, although the form in which these were given is something beyond what language can describe. Whether or not 'words' were used to convey ideas is irrelevant: What is relevant is that meaning was conveyed. Thus, the text of our Torah is a record of a human response to the Divine commandments.
Rabbi Elliot Dorf is a good example of the modernists, who explicitly teach that G-d did not reveal specific ideas or commandments in any propositional form. Rather, G-d revealed his existence, but did not impart any propositional content to Moses or the later Prophets. Instead, the Torah is a literary document that was produced as a result of Israel's encounter with the Divine. Thus, any laws contained within it can only be considered as semi-Divine in origin, as they do not express G-d's will, but rather express our best attempt at understanding what G-d wants of us.
Reform. Reform Judaism uses the idea of progressive relevation. The Torah may be the product of divine inspiration, but it was written in the language and context of its time, and must be continually reinterpreted into today's language and context.
Reconstructionist. Reconstructionist Jews believe that the Torah was not inspired by G-d in any way and is more the folklore of the Jewish people, albeit a folklore that is of the greatest importance. However, they do claim that the traditional mitzvot in the Oral and Written law are more or less binding, but for reasons of cultural significance only. It should be noted that some of today's new Reconstructionist rabbis are publicly questioning this theology, and our adopting a more traditional stance, although this trend has not yet made any real inroads among its laity.
The FAQ is a collection of documents that is an attempt to answer questions that are continually asked on the soc.culture.jewish family of newsgroups. It was written by cooperating laypeople from the various Judaic movements. You should not make any assumption as to accuracy and/or authoritativeness of the answers provided herein. In all cases, it is always best to consult a competent authority--your local rabbi is a good place to start.
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Daniel P. Faigin <firstname.lastname@example.org>