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Jewish Theology

(4,957 words)

Author(s): Jacobs, Louis | Dorff, Elliot N.
1. Rabbinic Period The thinking of the biblical authors and of the Talmudic rabbis has rightly been described as organic, that is, responsive to the concrete situations of human life in all its variety. In the Bible, for instance, God is ever present, making demands on his people and on all humanity. He is the Controller and Governor of the universe. But no attempt is made to consider how God is said to create ex nihilo, how divine providence operates in detail. That there is evil in the universe is taken for granted, and there are mighty probings both in the Bible (esp. the Book of Job) and in…

Jewish Philosophy

(6,255 words)

Author(s): Mayer, Günter | Dorff, Elliot N.
1. Definition Jewish philosophy is the development by Jewish thinkers, in general conceptual terms, of what it means to be a Jew. One commonly used medieval triad defines the main subjects of Jewish thought as God, Torah (including revelation, the process by which it came to be), and the people of Israel (§1). Topics like creation, redemption, life after death, the land of Israel, and prayer are often also part of comprehensive Jewish philosophies. Each philosophy of Judaism is written by a particular person in a specific time and place, and thus it is not surprising …


(5,560 words)

Author(s): Schwarzschild, Steven S. | Dorff, Elliot N.
1. Definition Judaism is a live historical phenomenon that has extended over more than 3,000 years and manifested itself in just about every spot on earth. To describe a phenomenon of this magnitude is obviously impossible even in many volumes (indeed, the literature on the subject is virtually unlimited)—much more so in a brief overview. All that one can hope to do is to select a few essential characteristics that seem to define Judaism and to observe their temporal and geographic development. Th…