This Was from God: A Contemporary Theology of Torah and History

This Was from God: A Contemporary Theology of Torah and History


Jerome Yehuda Gellman

Series: Emunot: Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah
ISBN: 9781618115195 (hardcover)
Pages: 222 pp.
Publication Date: August 2016

Add To Cart

Publicly or secretly, traditional Jews increasingly doubt the historical reliability of the Torah. Here, Gellman provides an "old-fashioned" Jewish theology for accepting the contemporary critique of Torah and history. Gellman presents an outline of the scholarly conclusions, and then examines faith responses and rejects apologetic attempts to evade the challenge. The book elucidates the notions of Divine Providence and Divine Accommodation that then provide a basis for the thesis that for centuries Divine Providence has been guiding toward a non-historical, non-literal understanding of the Torah. This was from God. Gellman advocates Hasidic-type non-literal approaches as most fitting for our times. Then, in light of the book's thesis, Gellman offers his understanding of Torah from Heaven, prayer, and the continuing validity of the commandments, for present-day traditional Judaism.

Jerome Yehuda Gellman is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and Honorary Professor at Australian Catholic University. He has published widely in analytic philosophy of religion and in constructive Jewish theology.

Table of Contents


Part I: Challenge and Response

Chapter 1: The Challenge
Chapter 2: Faith-Responses
Chapter 3: Apologetics
Chapter Four: A Counterproof

Part II: My Theological Toolbox

Chapter 5: Divine Providence
Chapter 6: Divine Accommodation

Part III: This Was from God

Chapter 7: This Was from God
Chapter 8: Torah from Heaven

Part IV: Torah Today

Chapter 9: Reading Torah with the Hasidim
Chapter 10: Prayer and Observing Commandments



Gellman is a versatile, original and insightful thinker. His new book displays all these virtues too, and is elegantly written, clear and organized well. It is excellent.
— Tyron Goldschmidt, Wake Forest University, Journal of Analytic Theology (Vol. 6)
This Was from God deftly combines intellectual honesty, philosophical rigor, and piety—a piety that is, in the deepest and most admirable sense of the term, a simple one. Gellman’s bold proposals regarding the true nature of the information scripture provides will, paradoxically, strike some liberal theologians as rather too liberal and some traditionalists as too traditional. Thus Gellman challenges many readers in ways that they are not expecting to be challenged. Many of us will find that both our faith and our critical outlook grow deeper as a result of this book.

The breadth of material Gellman synthesizes is remarkable: western philosophy, biblical scholarship, rabbinic texts, kabbalah, and medieval and modern Jewish philosophy. And yet Gellman wears this learning lightly in a book that is surprisingly well written and accessible.
— Benjamin D. Sommer, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages, Jewish Theological Seminary
There are many Jews who are committed to full Jewish observance but deeply troubled by the sorts of questions Professor Gellman sets out in so compelling a fashion in his first chapter. This book will help many overcome the split personality which characterizes so many Jews (and, I might add, Christians and Muslims) who seek to live simultaneously in the world of tradition and in the contemporary world around us.

This Was from God is both a work of constructive theology (all too rare in the world of Orthodox Judaism) and a work of careful scholarship. Even those who will not be able to accept the theological position set forth here, will appreciate the fairness, sensitivity, and sophistication with which the arguments are presented.
— Menachem Kellner, Wolfson Professor of Jewish Thought, University of Haifa