Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew

Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew

Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew

Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew

Excerpt

Belief has been so intimately associated with historical experience and memory in Judaism that some thinkers have felt they could present the contemporary meaning of Jewish religious ideas by tracing their evolution. I shall not be giving much attention to our premodern history in this book -- more precisely, I simply take our general academic understanding of it for granted -- so that I can concentrate on the problems and possibilities of Jewish belief today. Modernity challenges us to mediate between the Jewish truth we have inherited and cherish, and that which our surrounding culture deems worth embracing. However, before proceeding, I want to indicate my sense of the historical context in which our generation's special religious quest has arisen.

It seems to me that Jewish spirituality has been decisively molded by six momentous folk experiences: Covenant, Settlement, Rabbinism, Diaspora, Emancipation, and post-Holocaust disillusionment. Note, please, that I am speaking in terms of our people's experience, not that of one or another individual or that of humankind universally. Were I concerned with religion in general, either of those considerations would be worthy starting points. I am interested, rather, in emphasizing what I believe to be the specific quality of Jewish belief so that Judaism can function as an independent partner in its ongoing dialogue with culture. As I explicate later, I believe it critical to Jewish authenticity to try to think out of our corporate experience. Here this implies identification with the belief of a significant segment of our community in response to its recognized spiritual leaders. Though I can only speak as an individual, I seek to do so as one of this people, elucidating what I understand to have been our formative communal spirituality. I present my views to my fellow Jews in the hope that they may recognize in them their own religious self-understanding.

Promise, Fulfillment, Destruction, Rebuilding

The first and most formative experience in the development of Jewish spirituality was entering into the Covenant. As traditionally . . .

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