God's Kindness has Overwhelmed Us: A Contemporary Doctrine of the Jews as the Chosen People

God's Kindness has Overwhelmed Us: A Contemporary Doctrine of the Jews as the Chosen People


Jerome (Yehuda) Gellman

Series: Emunot: Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah
ISBN: 9781618111708 (hardcover)
Pages: 120 pp.
Publication Date: December 2012

Add To Cart

Jerome Gellman presents a new theology of the Jews as the Chosen People, addressing self-serving ethnocentric supremacy, cultural isolation, and defamation of religions other than Judaism. This book is traditional in taking chosenness and the truth of Judaism seriously, and in eschewing a theology of multiple covenants. At the same time, it is critical, rejecting previous concepts of chosenness, and innovative, offering for the twenty-first century a fresh way of seeing the Jews’ place in the world. On this foundation, Gellman suggests a new approach to inter-religious understanding from a Jewish point of view, and examines the impact of his proposal on traditional Jewish liturgy.

Jerome (Yehuda) Gellman (PhD Wayne State University) is professor emeritus of philosophy at Ben-Gurion University. He is the author of The Experience of God and the Rationality of Theistic Belief (1997) and Abraham! Abraham!: Kierkegaard and the Hasidim onthe Binding of Isaac (2003).

In this crisp and engaging book, Yehudah Gellman squares the circle by holding fast to the idea of Israel’s election while simultaneously denying a) that Jews are in any way innately superior to Gentiles and b) that Judaism has nothing to learn from other religions. Gellman advances a concept of election that enables Jews to live “in good conscience in our times.” Given the proliferation of unacceptable doctrines about innate Jewish superiority in certain traditionalist circles today, Gellman’s brave and deeply learned book, brimming with love for the people of Israel and for Israel’s Torah, is doubly welcome. This book should find a place on the shelf of every Jew who wishes to be part of the human family while remaining faithful to the Jewish branch of that family.
— Professor Menachem Kellner, Chair of the Interdiscipinary Program in Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Shalem College (Jerusalem), emeritus Professor of Jewish Thought at the University of Haifa
In this remarkable book . . . Jerome Gellman demonstrates a rare combination of virtues: the devotion to clarity and cogency of an analytic philosopher, a humanist’s appreciation of the dignity and worth of other peoples and faiths, and the unshakable religious commitment of a devout Jew. . . . God’s Kindness Has Overwhelmed Us makes important contributions to theology in terms of both content and methodology. It offers Jews (and Christians) a living option for a more relevant and contemporary understanding of chosenness and it offers Jewish thinkers a model of how to do theology in a way inspired by the best of analytic philosophy . . . The new doctrine of chosenness could also play an important role in the future of interfaith dialogue.
— Berel Dov Lerner, Western Galilee College, Israel; review published in Reviews in Religion & Theology, Vol. 30, Issue 3 (July 2013)
Yehuda Gellman combines an acute philosophical mind with his deep Jewish faith in this fine new volume of theology. Taking up a critical-traditional stance to the great debates about this issue, Gellman clearly and helpfully promotes a new approach to the Jews as God’s chosen people. Anyone interested in either inter-faith dialog with Judaism, current Christian discussion of cessationism, or with contemporary Jewish theology, will find this stimulating book to be essential reading.
— Alan G. Padgett, Professor of Systematic Theology, Luther Seminary (Saint Paul, Minnesota)
Chosenness remains the most challenging subject for any Jewish theology. This is particularly so in an interreligious age. Gellman brings fresh air where others either avoid engagement or simply repeat the formulations of yesteryear. Breaking theological ground is important both because of the solution it offers and because of the invitation to others to treat a difficult topic with the greatest seriousness. Gellman achieves both laudably. A must read anyone with serious interest in contemporary Jewish theology.
— Rabbi Dr. Alon Goshen-Gottstein, Director, the Elijah Interfaith Institute
Many contemporary Jews are uncomfortable with the idea that God has chosen Israel. In an accessible manner, Gellman here proposes a new understanding of this key pillar of Jewish theology, one that grows out of Jewish tradition but yet avoids claims of Jewish superiority or denigration of other religions. This volume’s contribution to this discussion is important and thought-provoking, one that Jews engaged in interreligious dialogue (and those dialoging with Jews) should certainly read.
— Ruth Langer, Professor of Theology, Associate Director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, Boston College

Table of Contents


Introduction: In the Wink of an Eye

I: Setting the Stage
II: Choosing Chosenness: Criteria
III: Views of Chosenness
IV: God’s Love Has Overwhelmed Us: The Jews and the Nations of the World
V: God’s Love Has Overwhelmed Us: Judaism and World Religions
VI: Chosenness: Past and Future