Revelation and the God of Israel

Revelation and the God of Israel

Revelation and the God of Israel

Revelation and the God of Israel

Synopsis

Norbert M. Samuelson asks--what is the most reasonable possible conception of the doctrine of "revelation" found in the sources of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) in the light of modern challenges from academic studies of evolutionary psychology, analytic philosophy, and biblical history? The proposed answer is drawn from his extensive knowledge of western philosophy-- from ancient Greece to contemporary England and America and Jewish intellectual history from Maimonides to Buber and Rosenzweig. The book engages with the history of philosophy, religious thought and Judaism.

Excerpt

This book is a constructive study of the concept of revelation as it emerges from the Hebrew Scriptures and is interpreted in Jewish philosophy. The first part of the book is an attempt to answer the question, what is the best possible understanding of what revelation is? “Best possible” here means most detailed and most coherent in its details. As such, the first part is a study in intellectual history. Special attention is given to the conception of the God of revelation in the Hebrew Scriptures as classical or medieval Jewish theological philosophers, such as Moses Maimonides, and modern Jewish philosophical theologians, such as Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig, subsequently interpret it. Its conclusion is the formulation of the concept of revelation that will be the subject for the second part.

The second part of the book is a critical study of the concept of revelation in the light of possible challenges to its affirmation from contemporary academic disciplines. It is an attempt to answer the question, is it reasonable to affirm belief in revelation? What “reasonable belief” means is in itself somewhat complex and will be discussed within the body of the book, especially in the concluding chapter. As such, the second part is a study in the philosophy of religion. For now, suffice it to say that a particular belief is “reasonable” if it is logically coherent and there is no contrary belief whose probability is greater. Just what “probable” means here will also be discussed as well as how on different topics probability is to be determined. With specific reference to the concept of revelation, the discipline that offers contrary beliefs that profess to have greater probability is evolutionary psychology. Attention also has to be paid to issues about the morality of revelation in political ethics, the existence and nature of God in philosophy of religion, and the credibility of the Hebrew Scriptures as an authority for reasonable belief in the source-criticism tradition of contemporary academic biblical studies.

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