Holocaust Theology: A Reader

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Where was God when six million died? Over the last few decades this question has haunted both Jewish and Christian theologians. If God is all-good and all-powerful, how could he have permitted the Holocaust to take place? Holocaust Theology: A Reader provides a panoramic survey of the responses of over one hundred leading Jewish and Christian Holocaust thinkers. Beginning with the religious challenge of the Holocaust, the collection explores a wide range of theodices which seek to reconcile God's ways with the existence of evil. In addition, the book addresses perplexing questions regarding Christian responsibility and culpability during the Nazi era. Designed for general readers and students, each reading is divided into topics and is followed by a series of questions. For anyone who is troubled by the religious implications of the tragedy of the Holocaust, this collection of Holocaust theology provides a basis for discussion and debate.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
The Holocaust starkly challenges theologians to answer the profoundly perplexing question at the foundation of theodicy: why does an omnipotent, benevolent God permit evil to exist in the world? Most of the selections in this anthology deal with theodicy, although only a few actually use that term. Cohn-Sherbok, a professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, brings together the responses of more than 100 Christian and Jewish thinkers. For each one, Cohn-Sherbok provides brief excerpts from their writings, grouped into four overlapping categories: "The Challenge," "Faith in the Dead Camps," "Wrestling with the Holocaust" and "Jews, Christians and the Holocaust." Some of the authors are little known, but many are more familiar, such as Elie Wiesel, Paul Tillich, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Jacob Neusner and Primo Levi. They repeatedly quote from each other. The book begins with a useful summary of its contents and a history of the Holocaust. Cohn-Sherbok also provides an epilogue, "The Future of Holocaust Theology," in which he states the conclusion reached by many of the writers: the Holocaust "is an unfathomable mystery." A less significant mystery is in the inclusion of two obscure individuals, Julio de Santa Ana and Marc Ellis, who somehow subvert Holocaust theology into an attack on the State of Israel, accusing it of "oppression of the Palestinian masses" and torturing Palestinian prisoners. These writers diminish the value of Cohn-Sherbok's compilation, since their comments contrast sharply with the more thoughtful and balanced efforts of the other contributors. (Apr.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
From the Publisher

"Holocaust Theology: A Reader should prove useful as an introductory text which grapples with complex issues."


"This anthology does indeed offer a panoramic survey, and thus is a valuable contribution to Holocaust literature.]"
-The Princeton Seminary Bulletin


"Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok has provided a much needed and indeed "panoramic survey of Holocaust theology" (1) that offers a comprehensive overview of excerpts from representative writings in the field. Holocaust Theology: A Reader provides a fine, comprehensive overview of the interpretive possibilities."
-Journal of the American Academy of Religion


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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780814716199
  • Publisher: New York University Press
  • Publication date: 2/11/2002
  • Pages: 414
  • Product dimensions: 6.62 (w) x 9.14 (h) x 1.13 (d)

Meet the Author

Rabbi Dan Cohn-Sherbok is Professor of Judaism at the University of Wales, Lampeter, and is the author or editor of more than 50 books, including God and the Holocaust and Understanding the Holocaust.

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Table of Contents

Chapter Outline
Introduction 1
The Holocaust: Historical Background 26
Pt. I The Challenge 39
1 The Religious Challenge of the Holocaust 41
Pt. II Faith in the Death Camps 71
2 Religious Faith 73
3 The Holocaust and Divine Providence 93
4 The Holocaust and Mystery 106
5 Faithfulness and Suffering 112
Pt. III Wrestling with the Holocaust 123
6 The Suffering of God 127
7 Human Free Will 153
8 The Holocaust and Christian Faith 170
9 The Holocaust and the Kingdom 178
10 The Holocaust and Covenant 186
11 The Holocaust and Human Evil 192
12 The Holocaust and Jewish Survival 216
13 Reconstructing Judaism 237
Pt. IV Jews, Christians and the Holocaust 271
14 The Holocaust and Christian Responsibility 273
15 Re-evaluating Christian Theology 313
16 Jewish - Christian Dialogue 355
Epilogue: The Future of Holocaust Theology 383
Bibliography 389
Acknowledgements 399
Index of Authors 401
General Index 405
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