From Hebrew tattooing to Jewish Buddhist meditation, Kaplan describes the remaking of historical tradition in ways that channel multiple ethnic and national identities. While pessimists worry about the vanishing American Jew, Kaplan focuses on the creative responses to contemporary spiritual trends that have made a Jewish religious renaissance possible. He believes that the reorientation of American Judaism has been a "bottom up" process, resisted by elites who have only reluctantly responded to the demands of the "spiritual marketplace." The American Jewish denominational structure is therefore weakening at the same time that religious experimentation is rising, leading to innovative approaches that are supplanting existing institutions. The result, as Kaplan makes clear, is an exciting transformation of what it means to be a religious Jew in twenty-first century America.
As an introduction to the world of Hebrew thought, Our Father Abraham is biblical, historical, and cultural in nature. At the same time, the writing is personal and passionate, reflecting Marvin Wilson's own spiritual pilgrimage and his extensive dialogue with Jews. The book (1) develops a historical perspective on the Jewish origins of the church, (2) sets forth the importance and nature of Hebrew thought, (3) discusses how the church can become more attuned to the Hebraic mind-set of Scripture, and (4) offers practical suggestions for interaction between Jews and Christians.
The study questions at the end of each chapter enhance the book's usefulness as a text and also make it suitable for Bible-study and discussion groups. All Christians--and Jews too--will profit from Wilson's sensible treatments of biblical texts, his thorough understanding of both the Christian and the Jewish faith, and his honest historical analysis of the general failure of the Christian church to acknowledge and understand its relation to Judaism.
This volume begins with four essays on the concept of man's being born "free and equal," in the image of God. The underpinning of this concept in Jewish law is explored in Section 2, entitled "The Rule of Law." Section 3, "The Democratic Ideal," traces the foundations of democracy in the Jewish teachings in the Bible and the Talmud, which in turn influenced the whole body of Western political thought. Relations between man and man, man and woman, employer and employee, slave and master are all spelled out. Section 4 presents essays analyzing man's freedom of conscience, and his God-given rights to dissent and protest. Section 5 deals with aspects of personal liberty, including the right of privacy. Section 6, entitled "The Earth is the Lord's," deals with the Jewish view of man's transient tenancy on God's earth, his obligations not to destroy anything that lives or grows, and to share the earth's bounty with the poor, the widowed, and the orphaned. Section 7 delivers an analysis of the "end of days" vision of Micah and man's continuing need to strive for peace and not for war. The volume concludes with three new essays, dealing with contemporary issues: "In God's Image: The Religious Imperative of Equality under Law"; "The Values of a Jewish and Democratic State: The Task of Reaching a Synthesis"; and "Religious Freedom and Religious Coercion in the State of Israel."
This enlarged edition is accessibly written for a general and scholarly audience and will be of particular interest to political scientists, historians, and constitutional scholars.
Jacob Neusner outlines and examines the four stages in which the initial period of the historical development of Rabbinic Judaism divides, beginning with the Pentateuch and ending with its definitive and normative statement in the Talmud of Babylonia. He traces the development of Rabbinic Judaism by exploring the relationships between and among the cognate writings which embody its formative history.