Between Man and God: Issues in Judaic Thought

By Martin Sicker | Go to book overview

4

Man, the Universe, and the Creator

The emergence, in the first half of the nineteenth century, of the modern movement to reform or reconstitute Judaism engendered a major reappraisal of traditional beliefs and practices. Previously, typical responses to questions concerning the divine-human relationship would have been in consonance with the traditional perspective. It would have been taken for granted that God was intimately engaged with mankind, both collectively and individually, because this was His wish as a caring divine personality, a notion that is expressed repeatedly, both explicitly and implicitly, in the traditional literary corpus of Judaism. 1 Even a cursory examination of the biblical narratives reveals a concerned God who clearly is intimately involved with mankind, a God who repeatedly intervenes providentially in the lives of peoples and individuals.

Traditional responses to the question of the nature of the divine-human interaction would have reflected the high degree of confidence that can be expected to accompany unqualified acceptance of the truth of the teachings of Scripture, as they are elaborated upon by the sages and scholars of later periods. However, over the course of the last two centuries the responses offered by many Judaic thinkers to questions about the nature of the purported relationship between man and God have become increasingly hesitant and ambivalent. They are often clouded with doubts and articulated with circumlocutions, and frequently can be found to be quite incompatible with long-held views on the subject.

In modern times, a growing number of thoughtful people seem to have found themselves no longer able to accept what they perceived to be overly simplistic biblical and rabbinic notions about a God who is directly concerned with and attentive to our individual and collective lives. This is especially un-

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Between Man and God: Issues in Judaic Thought
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction vii
  • 1 - The Judaic Conception of God 1
  • 2 - The Temporal or Prophetic Paradigm 21
  • 3 - The Experience of the Divine 41
  • 4 - Man, the Universe, and the Creator 57
  • 5 - The Meaning of Human Existence 75
  • 6 - Man in the Image 89
  • 7 - Man and Providence 97
  • 8 - Man’s Moral Autonomy 109
  • 9 - The Good and Evil Impulses 129
  • 10 - Divine Omniscience and Moral Autonomy 149
  • 11 - Resolving Rabbi Akiba’s Paradox 165
  • 12 - The Question of Divine Justice 189
  • 13 - Theodicy in Judaic Thought 201
  • 14 - Divine Justice and Human Justice 229
  • Bibliography 239
  • Index 255
  • About the Author 261
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