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Ancient Jewish Philosophy 1 ED Edition

5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0819700148
ISBN-10: 0819700142
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 199 pages
  • Publisher: Bloch Pub Co; 1 ED edition (May 1, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819700142
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819700148
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,185,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
As a Christian reader I found Professor Efros' study of the historical development of Jewish philosophical theology very helpful historically as well as theologically. Efros highlights the continuing tension between two schools of thought: Holiness (emphasizing God's transcendence) and Glory (stressing the immanence of God). The tension between these two poles of thought is traced from the prophetic era to the Middle Ages. I was struck by many suggestive parallels with Christian struggles over the concepts of immanence and transcendence and have been stimulated to learn further from Jewish scholars as I seek to find the right balance between the two extremes. I strongly recommend this fine work to anyone interested in theocentric philosophy.
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Format: Paperback
Ancient Jewish Philosophy is a learned work on philosophy with a lot of footnotes, but it is written in a style that flows, as one would expect from a prolific poet. The diction is explained clearly making the subject easy to understand.
The late Rabbi Efros demonstrates in this work that Jewish philosophy began with the five books of Moses, and was further developed in the prophetic books - all long before Socrates, let alone the medievals. The book is arranged in two parts, the first describing the dichotomy and tension between the concepts of Kadosh (holiness as separateness, limitlessness) and K'vod (glory as omnipresence, accessability, and intimacy). Kadosh and K'vod are the the warp and weft of Ancient Jewish philosophy, prophecy and ethics.
Part two shows that the the attribute Kadosh is the foundation of Jewish ethics, providing absolute authority in decision making: "You shall be Holy, for I your G!d am Holy". K'vod works in tandem with Kadosh, making holiness possible in the human realm as well as the Divine. In other words, we are to do the right thing because we are told to do so by the most authoritative Being, and in following that instruction we move closer to being holy ourselves. Decision making and action become sacramental.
In contrast, the ancient gods of Greek religion offered no admirable role models, and no good advice for human conduct, while Greek philosophy tended to deal with the abstract rather than the difficult decisions that people face in life.
I say that the scheme Efros distinguishes makes nonsense of old accusations that the ancient Hebrews 'performed works' in order to bribe or change G!d. Rather, they 'performed works' in order to change themselves. Read with Efros' scheme in mind, the Bible becomes a work that inextricably joins mysticism (by which I mean the practice of opening to the Presence) with ethics. Having read Efros' book, the Bible became new for me once more.
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