Too often the study of philosophical texts is carried out in ways that do not pay significant attention to how the ideas contained within them are presented, articulated, and developed. This was not always the case. The contributors to this collected work consider Jewish philosophy in the medieval period, when new genres and forms of written expression were flourishing in the wake of renewed interest in ancient philosophy. Many medieval Jewish philosophers were highly accomplished poets, for example, and made conscious (...) efforts to write in a poetic style. This volume turns attention to the connections that medieval Jewish thinkers made between the literary, the exegetical, the philosophical, and the mystical to shed light on the creativity and diversity of medieval thought. As they broaden the scope of what counts as medieval Jewish philosophy, the essays collected here consider questions about how an argument is formed, how text is put into the service of philosophy, and the social and intellectual environment in which philosophical texts were produced. (shrink)
Menachem Fisch is the Joseph and Ceil Mazer Professor of History and Philosophy of Science and Director of the Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies at Tel Aviv University. He is also Senior Fellow of the Kogod Center for the Renewal of Jewish Thought at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.
This paper examines Hermann Cohen's idiosyncratic construction of a medieval Jewish philosophical tradition, focusing primarily, though not exclusively, on his Charakteristik der Ethik Maimunis . This construction, not unlike modern accounts, is filtered through the central place of Maimonides. For Cohen, however, Maimonides' centrality is defined not by his systematization of Aristotelianism, but by his elevation of ethics over metaphysics. The ethical and pantheistic concerns of Maimonides' precursors, according to this reading, anticipate his uniqueness. Whereas Shlomo ibn Gabirol's pantheistic doctrine (...) of emanation, for example, assigned little weight to ethics, Abraham ibn Daud rebelled against such a doctrine. Ibn Daud—much like Bahya ibn Paquda and Abraham ibn Ezra—becomes part of a Jewish philosophical tradition that culminates in Maimonides' rejection of Aristotelian metaphysics. In particular, this paper examines the way in which Cohen envisaged the pre-Maimonidean philosophical tradition, putting his highly critical reading of Shlomo ibn Gabirol and his pantheistic obsession with prime matter in counterpoint with his more favorable readings of Abraham ibn Daud and Bahya ibn Paquda. (shrink)
Jacob Neusner was a prolific and innovative contributor to the study of religion for over fifty years. A scholar of rabbinic Judaism, Neusner regarded Jewish texts as data to address larger questions in the academic study of religion that he helped to formulate. _Jacob Neusner on Religion_ offers the first full critical assessment of his thought on the subject of religion. Aaron W. Hughes delineates the stages of Neusner’s career and provides an overview of Neusner’s personal biography and critical reception. (...) This book is essential reading for students and scholars interested in Neusner specifically, or in the history of Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, and philosophy of religion more broadly. (shrink)
This volume covers the major traditions of thought from Philo to Levinas and, since Jewish philosophy has occurred in broader environments, non-Jewish thinkers who have had an important influence on Jewish philosophy are also included.
Aaron W. Hughes presents the first major study of dialogue as a Jewish philosophical practice. Examining connections between Jewish philosophy, the literary form in which it is expressed, and the culture in which it is produced, Hughes shows how Jews understood and struggled with their social, religious, and intellectual environments. In this innovative and insightful book, Hughes addresses various themes associated with the literary form of dialogue as well as its philosophical reception: Why did various thinkers choose dialogue? What did (...) it allow them to accomplish? How do the literary features of dialogue construct philosophical argument? As a history of philosophical form, context, and practice, this book will interest scholars and students working at the intersections of religious studies, philosophy, and literature. (shrink)
Controversies over how to define the word religion have persisted for decades. It is a term of art and of academic study, but also one of governance, technologies, and of networks; it is a concept whose diversity is often its own worst enemy. Religion is as much a fuzzy set of conceptualizations and generalizations about a range of human activities as it is an authorizing system of persons, ideas, and practices. What is Religion?: Debating the Academic Study of Religion invites (...) readers to eavesdrop on scholarly debates over the limits of, and uses for, a word commonly used but infrequently defined in a precise manner. This volume takes the temperature of the modern field of Religious Studies by inviting a diverse group of scholars to offer their own substantive contribution that builds on the shared opening prompt, Religion is.... Their essays document the current state of the field and its various sub-fields, assess the progress that has been made over the past generation, and propose new directions for future work. Seventeen of the international field's leading scholars show how they work with each other's definition, or, sometimes, the lack of a definition. Of interest to students, scholars, and general readers alike, What is Religion? will provoke debate and provide insights into the state of the field. (shrink)
Avi Sagi is professor of philosophy at Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel, and senior fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem, Israel. A philosopher, literary critic, scholar of cultural studies, historian and philosopher of halakhah, public intellectual, social critic, and educator, Sagi has written most lucidly on the challenges that face humanity, Judaism, and Israeli society today. As an intertextual thinker, Sagi integrates numerous strands within contemporary philosophy, while critically engaging Jewish and non-Jewish philosophers. Offering an insightful (...) defense of pluralism and multiculturalism, his numerous writings integrate philosophy, religion, theology, jurisprudence, psychology, art, literature, and politics, charting a new path for Jewish thought in the twenty-first century. (shrink)
"This volume [...] presents the work of Novak, a thinker interested in the intersection of traditional Judaism and the modern world, especially how religious Jews can simultaneously exist within the liberal and democratic nation state yet remain separate from its tradition of secularism"--Back cover.
David R. Blumenthal is Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies at Emory University. He has contributed greatly to the growth of Jewish Studies, the place of Judaism in Religious Studies, interreligious dialogue, and the reframing of Judaism in light of the Holocaust, postmodernism, and poststructuralism. For Blumenthal, theology is an ongoing reflection about everything we believe and do in the context of the living tradition.
Why I am a theologian rather than a philosopher -- The Jewish need for theology, commentary -- Through the shadowed valley -- The autonomous Jewish self -- 'Im ba'et, eyma-since you object, let me put it this way.
Rabbi Elliot N. Dorff, the Sol and Anne Dorff Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Rector of American Jewish University in Los Angeles, is one of today's leading Jewish ethicists. Writing extensively on the intersection of law, morality, science, religion, and medicine, Dorff offers an authoritative and non-Orthodox interpretation of Jewish law. As a leader in the Rabbinical Assembly's Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, he has shaped the religious practices of Conservative Jews. In serving on national advisory committees and task (...) forces, he has helped to articulate a distinctive Jewish voice on contested bioethical and biomedical issues. An analytic philosopher by training, Dorff has endorsed pluralism, arguing that Jewishness best flourishes in the context of American pluralism, and he has worked closely with non-Jews to advance religious pluralism in America. (shrink)
Jewish Philosophy for the Twenty-First Century showcases living Jewish thinkers who produce innovative ideas taking into consideration theology, hermeneutics, politics, ethics, science and technology, law, gender, and ecology.
This volume features the thought and writings of Jonathan Sacks, one of today's leading Jewish public thinkers. It brings together an intellectual portrait, four of his most original and influential philosophical essays, and an interview with him. This volume showcases the work of Sacks, a philosopher who seeks to confront and offer solutions to the numerous problems besetting Judaism and its confrontation with modernity. In addition, the reader will also encounter an important social philosopher and proponent of interfaith dialogue, who (...) articulates how it is possible to cultivate a culture of civility based on the twin notions of the dignity of difference and the ethic of responsibility. Jonathan Sacks has been Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth from September 1991 to September 2013 and a member of the House of Lords since 2009. (shrink)
Lenn E. Goodman is professor of philosophy and as the Andrew W. Mellon professor in the humanities at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. Trained in medieval Arabic and Hebrew philosophy and intellectual history, his prolific scholarship has covered the entire history of philosophy from antiquity to the present with a focus on medieval Jewish philosophy. A synthetic philosopher, Goodman has drawn on Jewish religious sources (e.g., Bible, Midrash, Mishnah, and Talmud) as well as philosophic sources (Jewish, Muslim, and Christian), in (...) an attempt to construct his own distinctive theory about the natural basis of morality and justice. Taking his cue from medieval Jewish philosophers such as Maimonides, Goodman offers a new theoretical framework for Jewish communal life that is attentive to contemporary philosophy and science. (shrink)
The Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers showcases outstanding Jewish thinkers who have made lasting contributions to constructive Jewish philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. In this paperback set of the volumes 6-10, the works of Judith Plaskow, David R. Blumenthal, Moshe Idel, Lenn E. Goodman, and Avi Sagi are examined and celebrated.
The Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers showcases outstanding Jewish thinkers who have made lasting contributions to constructive Jewish philosophy in the second half of the 20th century. In this paperback set of the volumes 11-15, the works of Elliot R. Wolfson, Menachem Kellner, J. David Bleich, Michael Fishbane, and Norbert M. Samuelson are examined and celebrated.
Michael Fishbane is Nathan Cummings Distinguished Service Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Chicago Divinity School. Trained in biblical studies, he also writes constructive hermeneutic theology.
Menachem M. Kellner is an American-born scholar of Jewish philosophy, an educator, and a public intellectual who lives in Israel. For over three decades he taught at the University of Haifa, where he held the Sir Isaac and Lady Edith Wolfson Chair of Jewish Religious Thought as well as several high-level administrative positions. Currently he teaches Jewish philosophy at Shalem College, Israel's first liberal arts college, which seeks to integrate Western and Jewish texts. Trained in ethics and political philosophy, Kellner (...) specializes in medieval Jewish philosophy, arguing that Maimonides' rationalist universalism should serve as the ideal for contemporary Jewish life. Creatively fusing Zionism, modern Orthodoxy, and democracy, his vision of Judaism is open to and engaged with the modern world. (shrink)
Michael L. Morgan is Emeritus Chancellor Professor at Indiana University and the Grafstein Visiting Chair in Jewish Philosophy at the University of Toronto. He has written extensively on ancient Greek philosophy, modern Jewish philosophy, and post-Holocaust theology and ethics.
Norbert M. Samuelson is Harold and Jean Grossman Chair of Jewish Studies at Arizona State University. Trained in analytic philosophy, he has contributed to the professionalization of Jewish philosophy in America and to the field of religion and science.
This article uses Kalman P. Bland’s The Artless Jew as a way to think about the recent history of the study of Judaism. The discipline’s preoccupation with disembodied texts has led to a way to conceptualize and situate Jews and Judaism that leaves certain blind spots and lacunae within our dominant narratives. To illumine some of these, the article focuses on ritual and what we can learn about the study of ritual in Judaism – and the study of Judaism more (...) generally – by connecting it not to the particularities of Jewishness, but to the ostensible universalism of larger fields of study, such as the academic study of religion. (shrink)