Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader

Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader

Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader

Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader


Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader presents the most comprehensive collection to date of Jewish religious writings from the latter half of this century. Featuring selections from both pre- and post-World War II thinkers, this carefully constructed anthology highlights the enormous range of theological viewpoints and methods that have characterized Jewish theological reflection in modern times. An extraordinarily rich compilation, it represents many different perspectives, including those of Orthodox thinkers and feminists, Israelis and Americans, rationalists and mystics, and post-modernists. Extensive introductions place these writings in historical and philosophical context and identify the fundamental continuities and tensions among contemporary Jewish thinkers. Following a general introduction, the volume is organized into four parts. The first section includes representative selections from the major Jewish philosophers of the early twentieth century (Cohen, Rosenzweig, Buber, Kook, Kaplan, and Heschel). The second part includes recent essays on God, creation, revelation, redemption, covenant/chosenness, and law. The third section provides seminal essays on the Holocaust and the modern State of Israel, topics that have held tremendous importance for Jewish thinkers over the past few decades. The book concludes with a symposium on future directions in Jewish theology at the dawn of the twenty-first century, and also provides extensive suggestions for further reading. Contemporary Jewish Theology: A Reader is designed as a companion volume to the editors' earlier book, Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality: A Reader (OUP< 1995). An exceptional introduction to contemporary Jewish thinking, it is an essential text for courses in Jewish thought and theology.


This collection of essays is designed as a companion volume to our earlier Contemporary Jewish Ethics and Morality (Oxford, 1995). In the spirit of that volume, our purpose here is to introduce readers to the breadth of contemporary Jewish theology as it has developed over the last few decades. In our judgment, this has been an extraordinarily productive period for Jewish religious thought; a time when traditional issues have been addressed from new perspectives and when the circle of participants in theological discussion has widened considerably. No doubt readers will assess the success of these theological efforts in a variety of ways, and invariably not all the essays here will be equally persuasive or relevant to everyone who encounters them. Collectively, however, we believe that they testify powerfully both to the resourcefulness of contemporary Jewish thinkers and to the integrity with which they have approached the task of creating a theology appropriate to our times.

In making the always difficult decisions about what to include here, we have cast a broad net. Recognizing that Jewish theological reflection expresses itself in multiple idioms, and draws from multiple philosophical currents, we have attempted to be as inclusive as possible, given the constraints imposed by considerations of size. We have also attempted to juxtapose contrasting points of view on topics of perennial theological interest, thereby enabling readers to appreciate the scope of contemporary Jewish conversation on each issue. At the same time, we have organized these essays--from early twentieth-century works by the giants of modern Jewish thought to the most recent reflections by feminists and post-modernists--in categories that we hope underscore the continuities between modern Jewish theology and the long tradition of theological reflection to which it is heir.

We have benefited from the helpful suggestions of many colleagues, as well as from comments of the anonymous reviewers for Oxford University Press and its editors. At this point, we could never hope to thank individually all those who have had a hand in shaping this volume. Suffice it to say that the scope of the material we have included, and the clarity of the organizational scheme, have been enhanced considerably as a result of the input we received. We hope that all those who have given so generously of their time and insight will recognize the fruits of their efforts in this volume.

It is our hope that this book will both fairly represent the diversity and vitality of contemporary Jewish theology and make it accessible to a wide range of readers. We believe that this work is of interest to a number of constituencies. First, of course, this book should . . .

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