Theological And Philosophical Premses Of Judaism

Theological And Philosophical Premses Of Judaism

by Jacob Neusner


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Classical Judaism imagined the situation of the people of Israel to be unique among the nations of the earth in three aspects. The nations lived in unclean lands, contaminated by corpses and redolent of death. They themselves were destined to die without hope of renewed life after the grave. They were prisoners of secular time, subject to the movement and laws of history in its inexorable logic. Heaven did not pay attention to what they did and did not care about their conduct, so long as they observed the basic decencies mandated by the commandments that applied to the heirs of Noah, seven fundamental rules in all. That is not how Israel the holy people was conceived. The Israel contemplated by Rabbinic Judaism lived in sacred space and in enchanted time, all the while subject to the constant surveillance of an eye that sees all, an ear that hears all, and a sentient being that recalls all. Why the divine obsession with Israel? God yearned for Israel’s love and constantly contemplated its conduct. The world imagined by the Rabbis situated Israel in an enchanted kingdom, a never-never land, and conceived of God as omniscient and ubiquitous. Here Neusner shows that in its generative theology, Rabbinic Judaism in its formative age invoked the perpetual presence of God overseeing all that Israelites said and did. It conceived of Israel as transcending the movement of history and living in a perpetual present tense. Israel located itself in a Land like no other, and it organized its social order in a hierarchical structure ascending to the one God situated at the climax and head of all being.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781934843543
Publisher: Academic Studies Press
Publication date: 03/20/2009
Series: Judaism and Jewish Life Series
Pages: 256
Product dimensions: 6.14(w) x 9.21(h) x 0.54(d)

About the Author

Jacob Neusner is Distinguished Service Professor of the History and Theology of Judaism and Senior Fellow, Institute of Advanced Theology, Bard College. He is also a Member of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton NJ, and Life Member of Clare Hall, Cambridge University, in England. He has published more than 100 books and unnumbered articles, both scholarly and academic and popular and journalistic, and is the most published humanities scholar in the world.

Table of Contents

Preface. THREE THEOLOGICAL PREMISES OF JUDAISM. 1. SPEECH: An eye that sees an ear that hears. i. Know before whom you are going to give a full account of yourself. ii. Oaths. iii. Vows and the Nazirite Vow in Particular. 2. TIME: “Considerations of Temporal Priority or Posteriority Do Not Enter into the Torah” . i. Temporal Sequence Does Not Apply to the Torah. ii. The Present-Tense Past: Scripture Re-Presented in the Immediacy of the Moment. iii. How are events treated, if not as unique indicators of the movement of history? Patterning Events. Mishnah-tractate Ta’anit 4:6–7. iv. History in the Torah and in the Mishnah. v. How the Mishnah Configures Israel in the Context of History Defined by God. How the Destruction of the Temple Figures in Mishnah-tractate Rosh Hashanah 4:1–3. vi. Patterning the History of the Sacrificial Cult: Mishnah-Tractate Zebahim 14:4–10. vii. A Messiah in the Mishnah: Mishnah-tractate Sotah Chapter Nine. 3. SPACE: The land of Israel is holier than all lands. i. The Locative Dimension. ii. Taking life to Sustain Israel’s life: Hullin. iii. The Domestic Table Compared with the Temple Altar. iv. The Particular Laws of Mishnah-Tractate Hullin. v. Gradations of Sanctification. vi. Why Hullin in Particular?. vii. Location, Occasion, the Character of the Encounter, in God’s Context, of God and the Israelite. 4. ANALYSIS: Hierarchical classification and the Law’s Philosophical Demonstration of Monotheism. i. Hierarchical classification. ii. Aristotle and the Mishnah’s Deductive Reasoning. iii. Message: The Taxonomic Power of Human Intention. vii. Mixtures in the First Division of the Halakhah: Bikkurim. viii. Conclusion. 6. ANALYSIS: Intentionality. i. Defining Intentionality, Attitude. ii. Intentionality and Freedom of Will. iii. The Manipulation and Application of power. iv. The point of differentiation within the political structures, supernatural and natural alike, lies in the attitude and intention of a human being. v. The Sources of Power: The Will of God and the Will of Man. INTEGRAL JUDAISM. 7. Integrating the System. i. At the Center of the System. ii. Defining Zekhut. iii. Specific Meanings of Zekhut in Particular Contexts. iv. Zekhut in Genesis Rabbah. v. Deeds that Generate Zekhut. vi. Relationships. 8. Living in the kingdom of God. i. The Rationality of the Israelite Social Order. ii. Approved Emotions. iii. Competition for the Status of “Being Israel”. iv. From Philosophy to Religion: The Kingdom of Heaven and the City of God. v. The Question of History Once Again. Index of Ancient Sources. Index of Subjects.

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