20th Century Jewish Religious Thought

JPS has reissued Cohen and Mendes-Flohr’s vintage paintings, probably an important, entire anthology on hand on twentieth century Jewish suggestion. This remarkable quantity offers one hundred forty concise but authoritative essays by way of well known Jewish figures Eugene Borowitz, Emil Fackenheim, Blu Greenberg, Susannah Heschel, Jacob Neusner, Gershom Scholem, Adin Steinsaltz, etc. They outline and mirror upon such valuable rules as charity, selected humans, demise, relations, love, fantasy, affliction, Torah, culture and extra. With entries from Aesthetics to Zionism, this ebook presents outstanding insights into either the Jewish adventure and the Judeo-Christian tradition.

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The function of these descriptions is, furthermore, often transparently ideological: to extol the religious deed (and it is always a deed of religious or spiritual import) that God is depicted as performing. The theological significance of these passages lies, as it were, in the gesture behind them-whether it be ideological or an attempt to represent God as a familiar presence-rather than in their literal or figurative meaning. Even so, there are other rabbinic aggadot that cannot be explained this way, aggadot that seem to preserve mythological conceptions from much earlier periods of Israelite religion or that give birth to myth anew out of genuine religious needs the rabbis themselves experienced.

II, 47). In the twelfth century, Maimonides described two kinds of readers aggadah had found: those who piously accepted its every interpretation as the literal meaning of Scripture, and those who dismissed all of it as ridiculous if not 10 AGGADAH fraudulent. Maimonides himself proposed an allegorical method for reading aggadah, a path that was widely followed throughout the Middle Ages. While this philosophical approach did not help readers to understand aggadah on its own terms, it nonetheless firmly established aggadah as the basic source for the reconstruction of rabbinic theology.

It is perfectly rational, and thus quite common, to take the same attitude toward the God of established religion and hold that there is no more reason for supposing that there exists, for example, a God under the description of an all-benevolent, all-powerful creator who takes a special interest in the behavior of the jews than there is for believing in the existence of any of the personages of classical mythology. A person who subscribed to such a view would be straddling agnosticism and atheism.

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