Contemplative Nation: A Philosophical Account of Jewish Theological Language

Contemplative Nation: A Philosophical Account of Jewish Theological Language

Contemplative Nation: A Philosophical Account of Jewish Theological Language

Contemplative Nation: A Philosophical Account of Jewish Theological Language

Synopsis

Contemplative Nation challenges the long-standing view that theology is not a vital part of the Jewish tradition. For political and philosophical reasons, both scholars of Judaism and Jewish thinkers have sought to minimize the role of theology in Judaism. This book constructs a new model for understanding Jewish theological language that emphasizes the central role of theological reflection in Judaism and the close relationship between theological reflection and religious practice in the Jewish tradition. Drawing on diverse philosophical resources, Fisher's model of Jewish theology embraces the multiple forms and functions of Jewish theological language. Fisher demonstrates the utility of this model by undertaking close readings of an early rabbinic commentary on the book of Exodus ( Mekhilta of Rabbi Ishmael) and a work of modern philosophical theology (Franz Rosenzweig's The Star of Redemption). These readings advance the discussion of theology in rabbinics and modern Jewish thought and provide resources for constructive Jewish theology.

Excerpt

Over the last several decades, Jewish studies has evolved into a thriving discipline that explores every facet of Jewish history, culture, and religion. Despite the astounding growth of the field, one crucial subject still has not found its place within Jewish studies: theology. the reluctance of scholars to establish Jewish theology as an academic subject mirrors not only the long-standing debates about the place of theology within the University, but also the contested role of theology within Jewish religious life. As for the larger disciplinary questions, it seems the battle between religious studies and theology has peaked and there are signs that theology is recovering its position within academia. Even if this optimistic reading about the future of academic theology is correct, there is little reason to believe that Jewish theology will benefit from the fragile truce between religious studies and theology. the forces within both Judaism and Jewish studies that have marginalized theology are so numerous and powerful, unless they are either confronted or circumvented theology will remain a tangential subject within the academic study of Judaism. For many scholars, this is well and good, either because they think theology has not been an integral part of the Jewish tradition or because they fear that the study of Jewish theology will diminish Jewish studies’ hard-won academic credentials. the claim that . . .

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