Judaism: Jewish Thought and Philosophy

Shofar, October 31, 1999 | Go to article overview

Judaism: Jewish Thought and Philosophy


Judaism: Jewish Thought and Philosophy

An Arthur A. Cohen Reader: Selected Writings and Fiction on Judaism, Theology, Literature, and Culture, edited by David Stem and Paul Mendes-Flohr. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1998. 576 pp. ISBN 0-8143-2282-4.

Theologian, novelist, art and literary critic, Arthur A. Cohen wrote on a large range of topics. This volume presents Cohen's writings on constructive theology, historical studies of Jewish philosophers Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, post-Holocaust theology, literary and art criticism, essays on the Jewish imagination and literary tradition, and selections from his fiction.

Franz Rosenzweig's "The New Thinking," by Franz Rosenzweig, edited and translated by Alan Udoff and Barbara E. Galli. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1998. 128 pp. ISBN 0-8156-2783-1.

Presented in this book are the principal texts for which Franz Rosenzweig initiated the project that would become The Star of Redemption. Included are his essay, "The New Thinking," four reviews of The Star of Redemption, and his 1917 letter to Rudolf Ehrenberg, the "germcell" of The Star. Barbara E. Galli's essay touches on the basic concepts of Rosenzweig's work, while Alan Udoff's closing essay situates Rosenzweig's thought in the context of modern and postmodern philosophical concerns.

God is a Verb: Kabbalah and the Practice of Mystical Judaism, by David A. Cooper. New York: Riverhead Books, 1998. 333 pp. ISBN 1-57322-694-7.

David A. Cooper provides an overview of kabbalistic insights and answers to the important questions of life. Such popular universal traditions as reincarnation, meditation, visualization, guiding the souls of the recently deceased, healing practices, direct encounter with the all-pervasive consciousness find their roots in Kabbalah.

God, Man, and the World: Lectures and Essays of Franz Rosenzweig, edited and translated by Barbara E. Galli. Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 1998. 128 pp. ISBN 0-8156-2788-2.

Based on Rosenzweig's lectures at the Jüdisches Freies Lehrhaus, the famous Jewish Institute of Adult Education, the essays include notes for a group of lectures of 1920, "Faith and Knowledge," followed by a three-part lecture series of 1922: "The Science of God," "The Science of Man," and "The Science of the World."

God's Place in the World: Sacred Space and Sacred Place in Judaism, edited by Seth D. Kunin. New York: Cassell, 1998. 160 pp. ISBN 0-304-33748-X.

This book examines models of sacred space in Judaism from an anthropological perspective. It discusses the development of these models in relation to historical and cultural transformation. The first part analyzes sacred space as it is presented in biblical and rabbinic texts, focusing on the transformation of centralized to decentralized sacred space. The second part examines the structure of synagogue in both Orthodox and non-Orthodox communities and the way in which these communities use sacred space. There is also a discussion of the role of the state of Israel as a new center of secular and religious Jewish sacred space, and as a return to a centralized model.

Is There a Jewish Philosophy: Rethinking Fundamentals, by Leon Roth. Oxford: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 1999. 192 pp. ISBN 1-874774-55-2.

Defining philosophy as "the search, through thought, for the permanent," Roth argues that in order to say whether there is a truly Jewish philosophy one has to ponder those elements in our lives which apper to be not incidental and trivial but basic.

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