Over 700,000 copies of the original hardcover and paperback editions of this stunningly popular book have been sold. Karen Armstrong's superbly readable exploration of how the three dominant monotheistic religions of the world—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have shaped and altered the conception of God is a tour de force. One of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, Armstrong traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From (...) classical philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one compelling volume. (shrink)
This book is intended not only for scholars and students in humanities, history (esp. the history of ideas), Jewish studies, philosophy (esp. the history of philosophy), and Christian theology, but also for those concerned with the roots of anti-Semitism and with the need for toleration and intercultural pluralism. Modernity and the Final Aim of History: * Combines the development of German philosophy from the Enlightenment to Idealism, and from Idealism to the revolutionary turning-point of the mid-nineteenth (...) century with the Jewish question; * Shows the close entwining of anti-Jewish prejudices with awareness of the importance of Judaism in the formation of modern thought; * Points out the hopes, obstacles, compromises, and disappointments of Jewish emancipation right up to the appearance of racial anti-Semitism; * Traces the changes in the debate over Judaism from the theological perspective to the philosophical and from the philosophical to that of the economic and naturalistic; * Underlines the dangers to toleration that arise from seeing human history as directed towards a single aim; *Can be used in university courses and seminars, as well as in research groups. (shrink)
The development of Talmudic Judaism from the first to the fifth century A.D. is marked by a decline of interest in the knowledge and explanation of historical events. Neither the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. nor the advent of the Sasanians in Babylonia in 226 A.D. provoked refiection on history among the Talmudic rabbis. In Jerusalem in the first century, Yohanan ben Zakkai stressed an interim ethic and policy for survival and redemption; Rav and Samuel, in (...) third century Babylonia, converted messianic speculation and scriptural exegesis into a policy of passive acceptance of political events. But lack of interest in political history masked belief that the covenant of Sinai would win redemption not through the course of historical events but apart from it. (shrink)
This chapter examines the methodologies, new approaches, and challenges in the use of rabbinic literature to study the history of Judaism in late antiquity. It provides some examples that demonstrate some of the issues concerning the applicability of rabbinic literature to the study of Judaism in late-Roman Palestine. It concludes that rabbinic literature can serve as a historical source, especially when read indirectly and through the lens of well-defined theoretical frameworks, and when perceived as a rabbinic cultural (...) product that reflects delicate, sophisticated and hardly recoverable relationships between text and reality. (shrink)
In this book, Françoise Mirguet traces the appropriation and reinterpretation of pity by Greek-speaking Jewish communities of Late Antiquity. Pity and compassion, in this corpus, comprised a hybrid of Hebrew, Greek, and Roman constructions; depending on the texts, they were a spontaneous feeling, a practice, a virtue, or a precept of the Mosaic law. The requirement to feel for those who suffer sustained the identity of the Jewish minority, both creating continuity with its traditions and emulating dominant discourses. Mirguet's book (...) will be of interest to scholars of early Judaism and Christianity for its sensitivity to the role of feelings and imagination in the shaping of identity. An important contribution to the history of emotions, it explores the role of the emotional imagination within the context of Roman imperialism. It also contributes to understanding how compassion has come to be so highly valued in Western cultures. (shrink)
Moses Mendelssohn is often described as the founder of modern Jewish thought and as a leading philosopher of the late Enlightenment. One of Mendelssohn's main concerns was how to conceive of the relationship between Judaism, philosophy, and the civic life of a modern state. Elias Sacks explores Mendelssohn's landmark account of Jewish practice--Judaism's "living script," to use his famous phrase--to present a broader reading of Mendelssohn's writings and extend inquiry into conversations about modernity and religion. By studying Mendelssohn's (...) thought in these dimensions, Sacks suggests that he shows a deep concern with history. Sacks affords a view of a foundational moment in Jewish modernity and forwards new ways of thinking about ritual practice, the development of traditions, and the role of religion in society. (shrink)
This volume contains essays dealing with complex relationships between Judaism and Christianity, taking a bold step, assuming that no historical period can be excluded from the interactive process between Judaism and Christianity, conscious or unconscious, as either rejection or appropriation.
Abraham Joshua Heschel's oeuvre deals with the continuum of Jewish religious consciousness from the biblical and rabbinic periods through the kabbalistic and Hasidic ones with regard to God's concern for humanity. The goal of this study is to show how such a “Nachmanidean” reading has partially displaced the discontinuous “Maimonidean” reading promoted by Yehezkel Kaufman, Ephraim Urbach, and Gershom Scholem. The result is that Heschel's understanding of the development of Jewish theologizing is more influential now than it was during his (...) lifetime. This study traces the growth of that development and explores how Heschel became the scholar-theologian who most succeeded in bridging the gap between scholarship and constructive theology. (shrink)
"Neusner moves beyond the interpretation of individual texts to grasp as wholes two systems of Judaism, that of the Mishnah and that represented by Rabbinic documents of the fifth century. He thus provides an entirely fresh approach and a new answer to the central question 'What is Judaism?' At the same time, by providing a sound model for the evaluation and comparison of diverse religious systems, this book has an important place within the study of the history (...) of religions in general."--Alan J. Avery-Peck, author of The Talmud of the Land of Israel: Shebiit An eminent scholar of the history of Judaism, Jacob Neusner shows in this work how Judaism changed from a philosophy to a religion between 200 and 400 C.E. The Transformation of Judaism is a work both revolutionary in its method and unprecedented in its results. Comparing earlier and later sets of Judaic writings, Neusner sets forth how philosophy--abstract, elegant, orderly, and intellectual--turned into religion--tangible, down-to-earth, chaotic, and concrete. In the process, he offers an account of the birth of Judaism that has become normative. Moreover, Neusner's methodology can be applied to the study of religions other than Judaism because it examines the underpinnings of how a society sees the world (philosophy), orders itself (politics), and sustains itself (economics). "This prolific author provides in this book yet another of his clear and scholarly explorations into the nature of Judaism... Scholarly detail does not preclude clarity of style and more general reflection on the character of religion in relation to other modes of thought."--Peter Byrne, Religious Studies. (shrink)
Faith in reason, reason in faith -- The nature of God, the God of nature -- Torah from heaven -- Divine providence -- The oral Torah and rabbinic tradition -- Religion and superstition -- Israel and humanity -- Conversion to Judaism -- Eternal Torah, changing times -- Faith and reason.
Consciously writing from a Jewish background, thirty-five esteemed authors, from Britain, Canada, Israel, and the United States cover the whole breadth of Jewish philosophy, concentrating upon the philosophical interest of the ideas themselves. The contributors to this work explore numerous issues raised in the text of the Bible and in the history of the Jewish people, and discuss the major schools of thought and most serious controversies of ancient and modern Jewish philosophy. Topics include postmodern techniques, the thought of (...) Moses Maimonides, and philosophic studies of the Holocaust. Throughout this work, the authors insist on the importance of understanding the social and cultural context in which Jewish philosophy exists. The broad range of ideas in this volume makes it an invaluable sourcebook on the nature of Jewish philosophy. (shrink)
This book surveys the vast body of medieval Jewish philosophy, devoting ample discussion to major figures such as Saadiah Gaon, Maimonides, Abraham Ibn Ezra, Judah Halevi, Abraham Ibn Daoud, and Gersonides, as well as presenting the ancillary texts of lesser known authors. Sirat quotes little-known texts, providing commentary and situating them within their historical and philosophical contexts. A comprehensive bibliography directs the reader to the texts themselves and to recent studies.
Speech : an eye that sees, an ear that hears -- Time : considerations of temporal priority or posteriority do not enter into the Torah -- Space : the land of Israel is holier than all lands -- Analysis : hierarchical classification and the law's philosophical demonstration of monotheism -- Mixtures -- Analysis : intentionality -- Integrating the system -- Living in the kingdom of God.