Torah Min Hashamayim BA-Aspaklaria Shel Hadorot (Theology of Ancient Judaism)/Heavenly Torah as Refracted through the Generations

By Kimelman, Reuven | Shofar, Fall 2007 | Go to article overview

Torah Min Hashamayim BA-Aspaklaria Shel Hadorot (Theology of Ancient Judaism)/Heavenly Torah as Refracted through the Generations


Kimelman, Reuven, Shofar


Torah min Hashamayim Ba-aspaklaria shel Hadorot (Theology of Ancient Judaism) [Hebrew], by Abraham Joshua Heschel. 3 vols. Vols. 1-2, London: Soncino Press, 1962-65; vol. 3, New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1995.

English Translation: Heavenly Torah as Refracted through the Generations, edited and translated by Gordon Tucker with Leonard Levin. New York: Continuum, 2005.

I am unaware of any other scholar of the twentieth century besides Abraham Joshua Heschel who contributed to the theological understanding of the four pivotal periods of pre-modern Jewish existence: Biblical, Rabbinic, Medieval-Philosophic, and Kabbalistic-Hasidic. The first two warranted major books. For the Biblical period, The Prophets articulates the Divine pathos of the Most Moved Mover's involvement in the affairs of man. For the Rabbinic period, Torah Min HaShamayim BeAsplaqariah Shel HaDorot, traces the internal dialectic of Jewish theology throughout its history. This is Heschels magnum opus, for it presents the understanding of the woof and warp of Judaism which informs his writings on contemporary theology. Heschel not only had an overarching thesis about Rabbinic Judaism, but adopted the strategy of exegeting it from within by writing it in Hebrew in native categories. Many of the subsections are titled with Rabbinic quotations. This reflects his understanding of the intersect between language and thought, for as words and language inform thinking so do categories structure thought. The distinctiveness of Heschels contribution can be gauged by comparing his chapter headings with three other major works on Rabbinic thought.

Solomon Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology.

1. Introductory

2. God and the World

3. God and Israel

4. The Election of Israel

5. The Kingdom of God (Invisible)

6. The Visible Kingdom (Universal)

7. The Kingdom of God (National)

8. The "Law"

9. The Law as Personified in the Literature

10. The Torah in its Aspect of Law (Mizwoth)

11. The Joy of the Law

12. The Zacuth of the Fathers. Imputed Righteousness and Imputed Sin

13. The Law of Holiness and Law of Goodness

14. Sin as Rebellion

15. The Evil Yezer: The Source of Rebellion

16. Man's Victory by the Grace of God, over the Evil Yezer Created by God

17. Forgiveness and Reconciliation with God

18. Repentance: Means of Reconciliation

George Foot Moore, Judaism in the First Centuries of the Christian Era:

Introduction

1. Historical

2. The Sources

Part I: Revealed Religion

1. Nationality and Universality

2. The Scriptures

3. The Unwritten Law

4. The Perpetuity of the Law

5. The Synagogue

6. The Schools

7. The Conversion of Gentiles

Part II: The Idea of God

1. God and the World

2. The Character of God

3. Ministers of God

4. The Word of God. The Spirit

5. Majesty and Accessibility of God

Part III: Man, Sin, Atonement

1. The Nature of Man

2. Sin and its Consequences

3. The Origin of Sin

4. Ritual Atonement

5. Repentance

6. The Efficacy of Repentance

7. Motives of Forgiveness

8. Expiatory Suffering

Part IV: Observances

Part V: Morals

Part VI: Piety

Part VII: The Hereafter

Ephraim Urbach, The Sages: Their Concepts and Beliefs [Hebrew], ET: The Sages: The World and Wisdom of the Rabbis of the Talmud,

1. The Study of the History of the Beliefs and Concepts of the Sages.

2. The Belief in One God

3. The Shekhina-The Presence of God in the world

4. Nearness and Distance-Omnipresent and Heaven

5. The Epithet Gevura [Might] and the Power of God

6. Magic and Miracle

7. The Power of the Divine Name

8. …

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