The Seductiveness of Jewish Myth

Challenge or Response?

Edited by S. Daniel Breslauer

Subjects: Jewish Studies
Series: SUNY series in Judaica: Hermeneutics, Mysticism, and Religion
Paperback : 9780791436028, 317 pages, July 1997
Hardcover : 9780791436011, 317 pages, July 1997

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Table of contents


S. Daniel Breslauer

Part One: What is Jewish Myth?

The Mythology of Judaism
Howard Schwartz

Poetry, Allegory, and Myth in Saul Tchernichowsky
S. Daniel Breslauer

Can the Teaching of Jewish History be Anything but theTeaching of Myth?
Joel Gereboff

Part Two: Modern Uses of Myth in Judaism

The Invention of a Secular Ritual: Western Jewry and Nationalized Tourism in Palestine, 1922-1933
Michael Berkowitz

A Rustling in the Woods: The Turn to Myth in Weimar Jewish Thought
Steven M. Wasserstrom

Judeophobia, Myth, and Critique
David Norman Smith

Part Three: Case Histories on Myth in Judaism

The Poetics of Myth in Genesis
Ronald S. Hendel

Strange Bedfellows: Politics and Narrative in Philo
Deborah Sills

The Myth of Jesus in Rabbinic Literature
Richard A. Freund

Melchizedek: King, Priest, and God
James R. Davila

The Face of Jacob in the Moon: Mystical Transformations of an Aggadic Myth
Elliot R. Wolfson

Sabbatai Zevi, Metatron, and Mehmed: Myth and History in Seventeenth-Century Judaism
David J. Halperin



A collection of essays focusing on myth in Judaism from biblical to modern times, this book offers a sense of the great diversity of the Jewish religion.


The Seductiveness of Jewish Myth offers a panorama of diverse definitions of myth, understandings of Judaism, and competing evaluations of the "mythic" element in religion.

The contributors focus on the problem of defining myth as a category in religious studies, examine modern religion and the role of myth in a "secularized" world, and look at specific cases of Jewish myth from biblical through modern times.

S. Daniel Breslauer is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas. He has written many books including most recently Mordecai Kaplan's Thought in a Post-Modern Age.


"This collection of learned and innovative essays focuses on a central problem in the interpretation of Judaism: What is the place of myth in Judaism? By focusing on the problem of myth, the collection invokes the reader to ponder the evolution of Jewish self-understanding, the expression of Jewish consciousness through narrative, the link between beliefs, narratives, and social conduct, and the secularization of Judaism in the modern period. Precisely because the authors do not share the same view of myth (i.e., its nature, function, and meaning) their essays compel the reader to reexamine the mythic dimension of Judaism from a variety of perspectives in order to articulate his/her views." — Hava Tirosh-Rothschild, Indiana University