Understanding Jewish Theology: Classical Issues and Modern Perspectives

Front Cover
Jacob Neusner
Global Academic Publishing, 2001 - Religion - 337 pages
This book examines the religious experience of Judaism and comprehends both the perceptions of ordinary folks and the teachings of the creative elite–prophets, rabbis, philosophers, mystics, scholars, lawyers, and sages. To find out about the ordinary Jew one turns to the prayers he recites, the festivals he celebrates, the various ritual and mythic testimonies to the Jews’ shared religious imagination. But these do not constitute the whole of the Judaic tradition, only part of it. The other part comprises the way in which theological thinkers interpret religious experiences and make sense of them. How do they produce an account of the central issues of the Judaic religious life, make them accessible to reason and constitutive of a formidable intellectual tradition? The power of Judaism is to be laid open to the experience of the student not only through the analysis of the central issues in Judaic theology. They were able to see the theologians at work, to examine their modes of thought and procedures of argument, to see how they appeal to sacred Scriptures and mediate the claims of law, revelation, and tradition to their own time.

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Contents

Part I
7
Monotheism
13
God and Man
23
Torah
30
Torah as Tradition
43
Torah as a way of Forming Culture
53
Israel as the Chosen People
63
The Holy Land in Judaic Theology
73
Belief Beyond Despair
163
The Holocaust and Contemporary Judaism
177
New Conceptions of God
195
Torah
205
New Themes in the Study of Torah
215
Israel
225
The Jewish People in Metamorphosis
231
Regaining Unity amid Diversity
239

Part II
89
Correspondences
105
Ethics
121
The Literature of the Law
133
Part III
149
A New View of Modernity
249
Part IV
259
Glossary
271
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Jacob Neusner was born in Hartford, Connecticut on July 28, 1932. He received a bachelor's degree in history from Harvard University in 1953. He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, where he was ordained a Conservative rabbi and received a master's degree in Hebrew letters in 1960. He also received a doctorate in religion from Columbia University. He taught at Dartmouth College, Brown University, and the University of South Florida before joining the religion department at Bard College in 1994. He retired from there in 2014. He was a religious historian and one of the world's foremost scholars of Jewish rabbinical texts. He published more than 900 books during his lifetime including A Life of Yohanan ben Zakkai; The Way of Torah: An Introduction to Judaism; Judaism: The Evidence of the Mishnah; Strangers at Home: The 'Holocaust,' Zionism, and American Judaism; Translating the Classics of Judaism: In Theory and in Practice; Why There Never Was a 'Talmud of Caesarea': Saul Lieberman's Mistakes; and Judaism: An Introduction. He wrote The Bible and Us: A Priest and a Rabbi Read Scripture Together with Andrew M. Greeley and A Rabbi Talks with Jesus with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI. He also edited and translated, with others, nearly the entirety of the Jewish rabbinical texts. He died on October 8, 2016 at the age of 84.

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