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)
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.
The aim of this study is twofold. Firstly, it intends to highlight the value of constructivist insights for religious studies by showing that various forms of approach to issues related to religion are mere constructs. In contrast to this viewpoint, the discipline of religious studies had traditionally sought a higher degree of objectivity in the scientific reflection of religious topics, but that has been a fraught path. Secondly, the example it refers to is worthy in itself. The reception of (...) class='Hi'>Judaism in contemporary China is not only an under-investigated topic endowed with a great potential to reveal to what extent the Chinese ordinary man as well as the academic succeed to understand Western thought and to differentiate among the varied cultural traditions generally subsumed by them under the notion Western, but it also shows that the constructivist approaches preserve their validity in non-European contexts as well. Judaism’s reception in contemporary China will be pursued on four different levels: popular literature, fake books, articles in the Christian Chinese media and academic productions. The four categories of texts represent four different degrees of comprehension of the object of study, primarily offering information about the worldviews of the authors of the texts. The process of reception of thought is regarded as a form of encounter where the active part is striving to get out of its own mindset and move towards the other. (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)
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.
impermissibly favorable to Jews? -- Humanist origins -- Humanism at court -- Discovery of Hebrew -- Johannes Pfefferkorn and the campaign against Jews -- Who saved the Jewish books? -- Inquisition -- Trial at Rome and the Christian debates -- The Luther affair -- As if the first martyr of Hebrew letters.
Jean-Claude Milner’s Le sage trompeur (2013), a controversial recent piece of French Spinoza literature, remains regrettably understudied in the English-speaking world. Adopting Leo Strauss’ esoteric reading method, Milner alleges that Spinoza dissimulates his genuine analysis of the causes of the persecution and survival of the Jewish people within a brief “manifesto” found at the end of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (TTP), Chapter 3. According to Milner, Spinoza holds that the Jewish people themselves are responsible for the hatred of the Jewish (...) people, and that the engine of their longevity is the hatred they engender. Additionally, claims Milner, Spinoza covertly insinuates that the solution to this persistent state of hatred consists in the mass apostasy of the Jewish people under the leadership of a Sabbatai Zevi-like figure. This article presents the Milner–Spinoza controversy to the English-speaking public along with the larger context of French-language scholarship on Spinoza’s relation to Judaism. While refuting Milner’s reading of Spinoza, I simultaneously clarify relevant elements of Spinoza’s discussions of Judaism in the TTP, such as Spinoza’s examination of Jewish identity and the nature of divine election, Spinoza’s understanding of the causes of national hatred, and Spinoza’s appeals to Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, and Turkish political history. (shrink)
At a time when bioethical issues are at the top of public and political agendas, there is a renewed interest in representations of the embryo in various religious traditions. One of the major traditions that have contributed to Western representations of the embryo is the Jewish tradition. This tradition poses some difficulties that may deter scholars, but also presents some invaluable advantages. These derive from two components, the search for limits and narrativity, both of which are directly connected with the (...) manner in which Jewish tradition was constructed in Antiquity. The article accomplishes three goals: • To introduce some central elements in ancient Rabbinic literature on the subject of the embryo and its representation; • To present this body of literature as clearly as possible, noting some of the difficulties encountered by scholars who engage in its study; • To explain how the literature’s textuality came about, examining the particular sociopolitical circumstances of Judaism at that time, including the reasons for the delay in the production of scientific texts, transmitted as such, as compared to other philosophical or religious traditions. The claim is that these circumstances engendered a tradition peculiarly relevant for the study and teaching of medical ethics today. (shrink)
In 1916, Walter Benjamin reportedly said to Gerhard Scholem that any "philosophy of my own … will somehow be a philosophy of Judaism."1 Scholem never accuses Benjamin of abandoning this desideratum. Benjamin's writings on Franz Kafka take on permutations, however, that very much bother Scholem.2 Benjamin's writings on Kafka undergo significant changes, but Scholem's disagreement constantly accompanies them.The German word "Missetäter," like its English counterpart "miscreant," historically refers to someone who has deviated from the true religious way.3 If there (...) is a miscreant justice of literature for Benjamin's writings on Kafka, it is an attentiveness to—a studying of—what is otherwise denigrated... (shrink)
This concise handbook of quick reference “has a practical purpose, namely, to acquaint the casual reader with the meaning of the basic concepts germane to Judaism in its religious, historic and cultural aspects”. In accordance with the author’s personal selection, on the principle of particular significance to–day, some fifteen hundred key ideas, terms and personalities representing a wide range of Jewish religion, philosophy and literature are succinctly defined and sometimes explained, and enhanced with some sixty excellently chosen illustrations.
This chapter examines the rabbinic Judaism from the Palestinian context. It suggests that it is not possible to provide any unambiguous framework which will offer clues to the context, or contexts, in which the extraordinary corpus of rabbinic works was composed. It concludes that the composition of the rabbinic literature could only take place in a society marked by a complex interplay of beliefs, ethnic identities and languages and identifies the most common points of reference in Jewish religious (...) writing. (shrink)
In this paper, we show that God is portrayed in the Hebrew Bible and in the Rabbinic literature—some of the very Hebrew texts that have influenced the three major world religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—as One who can be argued with and even changes his mind. Contrary to fundamentalist positions, in the Hebrew Bible and other Jewish texts God is omniscient but enjoys good, playful argumentation, broadening the possibilities for reasoning and reasonability. Arguing with God has also (...) had a profound influence upon Jewish humor, demonstrating that humans can joke with God. More specifically, we find in Jewish literature that humor’s capacity to bisociate between different domains of human experience can share a symbiotic relationship with argumentation’s emphasis on producing multiple, contested perspectives. Overall, once mortals realize that figures such as God can accept many perspectives through humor, teasing, arguing, criticism, and in at least one case, even lawsuits, a critical point emerges: citizens should learn to live, laugh, and reason with others with whom they disagree. (shrink)
The Hebrew Bible: glimpses of immortality -- Early post-biblical literature: gateways to heaven and hell -- The mishnah: who will merit the world to come? -- The Talmud: what happens in the next world? -- Medieval Jewish philosophy: faith and reason -- Mysticism: reincarnation in Kabbalah -- Modernity: what do we believe? -- The Messiah: the eternal thread of hope.
One of the central concepts in rabbinic Judaism is the notion of the 'Evil Inclination', which appears to be related to similar concepts in ancient Christianity and the wider late antique world. The precise origins and understanding of the idea, however, are unknown. This volume traces the development of this concept historically in Judaism and assesses its impact on emerging Christian thought concerning the origins of sin. The essays, which cover a wide range of sources including the Bible, (...) the Ancient Versions, Qumran, Pseudepigrapha and Apocrypha, the Targums Rabbinic and Patristic literature, advance our understanding of the intellectual exchange between Jews and Christians in classical Antiquity, as well as the intercultural exchange between these communities and the societies in which they were situated. (shrink)
The article «The scriptures of Judaism» of Shepetyak O.M. analyzes and brief systematization of the spiritual literature of Judaism, to study ways of its formation and the role of the Jewish religious environment, considered the scriptures Tanakh, the Talmud, the Mishnah, Midrash, Halacha, and others, the ways of their origin and role in religious operating time of Judaism.
Challenging earlier cognitivist approaches, recent theories of embodied cognition argue that the human mind and its functions are best understood as intimately bound up with the human body and its physiological dimensions. Some scholars have suggested that such theories, in departing from some core assumptions of the Western philosophical tradition, display significant similarities to certain non-Western traditions of thought, such as Buddhism. This essay extends such parallels to the Jewish tradition and argues that, in particular, classical rabbinic thought presents a (...) profoundly nondualistic account of the body–soul relation in its connection to cognition, action, and embodiment. Classical rabbinic texts therefore model the possibility of engaging with ‘Western’ conceptions such as God and the soul, while doing so in a manner that resonates strongly with many aspects of contemporary scientific theories. Thus, beyond their value as historical documents, insight into the texts and concepts of classical rabbinic Judaism can contribute to the further development of new theories of intellect and cognition. (shrink)
What is at stake in the problem of theology? It is whether or not, out of a given body of authoritative writings, we may appeal to that –ism, that “Judaism”, that all of us assume forms the matrix for all the documents all together. That is to say, the issue of theology bears consequence because upon the result, in the end, rests the question of whether we may speak of a religion, or only of various documents that intersect here (...) and there. When we ask not merely for a compendium of what a given religion alleges, e.g. about God, the world, and the human person, but for a systematic and philosophical coherent formulation of convictions in a statement that is not only true but also harmonious and genuinely cogent, then our problem in answering the question at hand proves not so readily resolved. The source of confusion lies in the state of the written evidence of religion, Rabbinic Judaism, or the Judaism of the dual Torah, or Classical Judaism, or Normative Judaism, as people may prefer to call it. We do not know what is primary and generative, what is secondary and derivative. Hence we have theological statements but no clear system. But to maintain there is a theology of Rabbinic Judaism is to claim for the matter systemic, not merely random and notional, standing. (shrink)
The first Jewish interpretations, as well as the first Christian commentaries, on the Book of Daniel, are unanimous about an idea: that of the authority of the prophet Daniel. Porphyry from Tyre, being the first one to point out to the macabaic composition of the book and challenging the prestige of the figure of the prophet, questioned the foundations for which Christianity was justifying the legitimacy of its religious practices. By which ways has Porphyry prepared his arguments is the question (...) that separates Casey and Ferch in different ways. (shrink)