Jewish Thought in Dialogue: Essays on Thinkers, Theologies and Moral Theories

Jewish Thought in Dialogue: Essays on Thinkers, Theologies and Moral Theories


David Shatz

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781934843420 (hardcover) 
Pages: 480 pp.
Publication Date: January 2010

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This carefully crafted collection of essays offers creative interpretations of major Jewish texts as well as original treatments of significant issues in Jewish theology and ethics. The collection includes philosophical readings of biblical narratives, analyses of topics in the thought of Maimonides, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, and Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, and critical and constructive examinations of divine providence, religious anthropology, free will, 9/11, evil, Halakhah and morality, altruism, autonomy in Jewish medical ethics, and the epistemology of religious belief. The author frequently brings Jewish philosophy and law into dialogue with contemporary Anglo-American philosophy. The book serves scholars and students of Jewish philosophy and law and is suitable for inclusion in syllabi of undergraduate and graduate courses.

David Shatz (PhD Columbia University) is a professor of philosophy at Yeshiva University. He has authored, edited, or co-edited twelve books dealing with both Jewish and general philosophy. These include Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and Jewish Spirituality; Judaism, Science and Moral Responsibility; Peer Review: A Critical Inquiry; and three anthologies on the philosophy of religion. His work in general philosophy focuses on the theory of knowledge, free will, and the philosophy of religion, while his work in Jewish philosophy addresses a variety of areas, most represented in this volume. He is editor of The Torah u-Madda Journal, a publication devoted to the interaction between Jewish and general culture, and editor of a book series, thus far ten volumes, that produces previously unpublished manuscripts of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik. He earned his PhD with distinction in general philosophy from Columbia University and his ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

A penetrating, keenly argued, profoundly wise, and often witty collection of essays by one of today’s foremost Jewish philosophers.
— Warren Zev Harvey, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
David Shatz is an excellent analytic philosopher who has also written extensively on Jewish philosophy. His articles do not merely contribute to understanding Jewish thinkers and thought. They also serve to broaden the philosophy of religion, making important issues and thinkers accessible and relevant to scholars working in other traditions. The essays will enhance scholarly appreciation of the philosophical dimensions of religious law, in a field that largely ignores or marginalizes law’s role in religion. This collection is particularly welcome and will contribute valuably to a broader discussion.
— Wayne Proudfoot, Columbia University
David Shatz’s Jewish Thought in Dialogue is rigorous and refreshing. Reflecting both his training in philosophy and intimate familiarity with Judaic materials, Shatz’s essays will compel you to rethink matters of significant concern to religion and ethics. Highly recommended!
— Gerald J. Blidstein, emeritus, Ben-Gurion University; recipient of the 2006 Israel Prize in Jewish Thought
David Shatz’s essays show us how, in the hands of a master, the analytic tools of Anglo-American philosophy can clarify and critically articulate the conceptual foundations of Judaism, and how halakhic and philosophical texts and discussions in the rabbinic tradition can enrich our understanidng of classical philosophical problems. These essays are constantly enlightening, closely argued and written with wit and insight. I learn from everything David Shatz writes.
— Josef Stern, Center for Jewish Studies, University of Chicago

Table of Contents


The Bible as a Source for Philosophical Refl ection
Maimonides’ Moral Theory
Worship, Corporeality, and Human Perfection:
A Reading of Guide of the Perplexed, III: 51-54
The Integration of Torah and Culture: Its Scope and Limits in the Thought of Rav Kook
Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook and the Ambiguities of “Openness”
Science and Religious Consciousness in the Thought of Rabbi
Joseph B. Soloveitchik
Divine Intervention and Religious Sensibilities From Anthropology to Metaphysics: David Hartman on Divine Intervention
Is Matter All That Matters? Judaism, Free Will, and the Genetic and Nonscientificc Revolutions
“From The Depths I Have Called To You”: Jewish Reflections on September 11th and Contemporary Terrorism
Does Jewish Law Express Jewish Philosophy?
The Curious Case of Theodicies
Beyond Obedience: The Ethical Theory of Rabbi
Walter Wurzburger
“As Thyself”: The Limits of Altruism in Jewish Ethics
Concepts of Autonomy in Jewish Medical Ethics
The Overexamined Life Is Not Worth Living

Index of Biblical and Rabbinic Sources
Index of Topics and Names