Understanding Jewish Theology

Classical Issues and Modern Perspectives

Edited by Jacob Neusner

Subjects: Jewish Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, Religion
Imprint: Distribution Partners
Paperback : 9781586840907, 337 pages, January 2001

Explores the religious experience of Judaism through the perceptions and teachings of ordinary Jews and the creative elite.


This book examines the religious experience of Judaism and comprehends both the perceptions of ordinary folks and the teachings of the creative elite–prophets, rabbis, philosophers, mystics, scholars, lawyers, and sages. To find out about the ordinary Jew one turns to the prayers he recites, the festivals he celebrates, the various ritual and mythic testimonies to the Jews' shared religious imagination. But these do not constitute the whole of the Judaic tradition, only part of it. The other part comprises the way in which theological thinkers interpret religious experiences and make sense of them. How do they produce an account of the central issues of the Judaic religious life, make them accessible to reason and constitutive of a formidable intellectual tradition? The power of Judaism is to be laid open to the experience of the student not only through the analysis of the central issues in Judaic theology. They were able to see the theologians at work, to examine their modes of thought and procedures of argument, to see how they appeal to sacred Scriptures and mediate the claims of law, revelation, and tradition to their own time.