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Faith Finding Meaning: A Theology of Judaism

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Overview

Over four decades ago, the pre-eminent Jewish theologian, Abraham Joshua Heschel, warned of a "second Holocaust" - a spiritual genocide against Judaism that American Jews were perpetrating on themselves. By engaging in assimilation and secularization, he argued, Jews were losing their religious identity and, through it, their identity as a people. In Faith Finding Meaning, Byron L. Sherwin makes the case for a return to Jewish theology as a foundation for restoring Jewish authenticity and for reversing self-destructive assimilationist trends.

Rather than focusing on the abstract theological concepts presented by Judaism, such as the existence and nature of God, Sherwin shifts the center of the discussion to the quest for individual meaning. As more Jews seek to affirm Judaism as a faith, they are increasingly asking two questions: What is Judaism? How does Judaism address my quest for meaning? This volume constructs a portrait of the Jewish faith that is deeply rooted in both classical and modern sources of Jewish thought. Jewish theological thinking can be understood as a response to such visceral existential issues as living in a covenantal relationship, finding God in the world, approaching sacred scripture, and committing ethical deeds. Finding this sort of individual meaning through Jewish theology is, Sherwin argues, the viable path by which Jews in the contemporary world can maintain identity amid assimilation.

Faith Finding Meaning will engage anyone seeking a refreshing new approach to interpreting Jewish theology and a guide for faithful living as the Jewish people move into the future.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Byron Sherwin is, without doubt, one of the most informed and penetrating theological minds of American Jewry today. Faith Finding Meaning is instructive, if not required, reading for those wishing to participate in future discussions in constructive Jewish theology. Forthright, synthetic and always engaging, Sherwin assesses the condition of modern Jewry and provides the spiritual tools necessary for a Jewish faith that is both grounded in sacred texts and profoundly inspiring. Scholars and spiritual pilgrims alike will come to use this volume as a window through which to view both the Jewish tradition and the contemporary Jewish soul."
—Rabbi Elliot Cosgrove, spiritual leader of Park Avenue Synagogue and author of Teyku: The Insoluble Contradictions in the Life and Thought of Louis Jacobs

"Based on his wide familiarity with classical Jewish texts and his broad reading of modern Jewish thinkers, Sherwin takes us on an intellectual exploration of what form American Jewish theology might take in the twenty-first century. He shows that any new Jewish theology has to rest not only on the Judaic tradition, but also on the lived experience of modern Jews being in a covenant relationship with the Divine. This book is indispensable for anyone interested in thinking about how classical Jewish literature and liturgy can address the post-modern Jewish experience of faith, life and suffering."
—Peter J. Haas, Abba Hillel Silver Professor of Jewish Studies, Case Western Reserve University.

"According to the Jewish mystical tradition, the Torah reveals herself only to her lovers. Byron Sherwin is not only one of the most creative Jewish scholars of our generation, but is also a lover of the Torah. That enables him in this book, using the most important traditional Jewish sources and modern scholarship, to present us with an authentic Jewish theology by describing what Judaism is and what Judaism is not."
—Harold Kasimow, George Drake Professor of Religious Studies Emeritus, Grinnell College

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195336238
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/9/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Byron Sherwin, an ethicist and scholar of Jewish philosophy and mysticism, is the Distinguished Service Professor at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. He is the author or editor of more than twenty-five books, including Studies in Jewish Theology.

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