Wrestling with God: Jewish Theological Responses during and after the Holocaust

Wrestling with God: Jewish Theological Responses during and after the Holocaust

Wrestling with God: Jewish Theological Responses during and after the Holocaust

Wrestling with God: Jewish Theological Responses during and after the Holocaust

Excerpt

This collection of Jewish theological responses to the Holocaust presents a wideranging selection of fundamental and important material. Indeed, it is the most complete anthology of its sort ever assembled. It is constructed in three sections, each the work of a different editor. Part I brings together for the first time a major selection of ultra-Orthodox responses to the Holocaust, written originally in Hebrew and Yiddish during and after the war. These writings show a profound, distinctive, religious sensibility that grew out of a deep commitment to the Jewish theological tradition. Though diverse, they all retain a commitment to the God of Israel and the Orthodox norms of Jewish life. Part II contains a substantial selection of essays written over the past half-century by Israeli authors. These essays were, for the most part, originally written in Hebrew, and they reflect both the subterranean and overt ideological influences operating in the rebuilt Jewish Zionist state. Compared to the selections in the first part, they also reveal a wider spectrum of theological opinion, ranging from staunch defenders of the Jewish tradition to those who affirm the nonexistence of God. Part III collects a broad sampling of works originally written in English and French by American and European authors since the 1950s. These selections contain both defenders of the normative Jewish theological tradition and radical theological innovators. These views range from the claim that "God is dead," to those of conservative thinkers who attempt to respond to the Holocaust by recycling classical defenses of God, drawing on biblical models such as the "binding of Isaac," the "suffering servant" of the Book of Isaiah, and that offered by the Book of Job, among others. Taken in their totality, the highly diverse statements in the three sections of this collection represent just about every significant theological position that has been articulated by a Jewish thinker in response to the Holocaust.

To help readers find their way in the complex theological material that has been assembled here, the editor of each of the three sections has provided both an overall introduction to his section of this anthology, explaining therein what is special, notable, and valuable about the material selected for inclusion, as well as an introduction to each individual selection. Thus, readers can gain a broader contextual understanding of the material being studied as well as a more intimate biographical knowledge of the particular authors whose work is here represented. The introductions to the individual authors also conclude with a selected bibliography that provides material for further study. In addition, each of the three parts of the collection concludes with a selected bibliography. In consequence, students should find this anthology user-friendly, even though the issues it takes up are both emotionally and intellectually challenging.

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