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Aspects of Rabbinic Theology: With a New Introduction by Neil Gillman, Including the Original Preface of 1909 & the Introduction by Louis Finkelstein Paperback – June 1, 1993

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Product Details

  • Series: Jewish Lights Classic Reprint
  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Jewish Lights; 1 edition (June 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1879045249
  • ISBN-13: 978-1879045248
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,065,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

An accessible classic statement of fundamental Jewish ideas by one of the great Jewish scholars of this century. Includes the original preface from the 1909 edition and Louis Finkelstein's introduction to the 1961 edition.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"Schechter is one of the great minds of Jewish scholarship of our century, and his succinct syntheses of rabbinic teachings are still valuable almost 100 years after they were written. For students who need a handle on the complexity of rabbinic thought, these essays are learned and yet very accessible." -- Professor Steven Fraade, Professor of Religious Studies, Yale University

"Solomon Schechter's Aspects of Rabbinic Theology is a classic. A pioneer work with enduring value has been reissued with a masterful introduction by Professor Neil Gillman. This work still speaks to every generation of students of the Jewish tradition." -- Dr. Alfred Gottschalk, President, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Schechter labored to mediate the dynamic otherness of Judaism to Christian America in unalloyed, clear and graceful prose." -- Professor Ismar Schorsch, Chancellor, The Jewish Theological Seminary of America

This is the only book on the theology of Judaism written 100 years ago that anyone can read today with profit." -- Jacob Neusner, Distinguished Research Professor of Religious Studies, University of South Florida

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Format: Paperback
The two introductions to this volume, the new one by Neil Gillman and the older one by Louis Finkelstein, explain a lot about the book's author and its origins. However, this review goes over the ground a little more succinctly, and from a somewhat different angle -- and not everyone will want to struggle with the 'Look Inside" feature to figure what Gillman, at least, has to say.

When this book, "Some Aspects of Rabbinic Theology," was published in 1909, informed opinion was largely skeptical of the whole idea of an early Jewish Theology, as distinguished from the Religious Philosophies articulated in the Middle Ages by Saadia Gaon, Yehudah Ha-Levi, Maimonides, and their successors. (And by informed opinion, I mean the traditionally trained Jewish scholars who were sufficiently modern in their view of the world to worry about such questions.)

Certainly there were no obvious theological expositions or programmatic presentations of dogma by the Rabbis cited in the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds, the immense repositories of generations of debate over just about every imaginable aspect of Jewish life. Indeed, there were even warnings about too much speculation (Such as "What is above, and what is below? What was before, and what will be after?" Mishnah, Hagiga II, 1) -- admittedly promptly followed in the Babylonian Talmud by examples of such esoteric knowledge (B.T. Hag. 11b-14a), and to whom it might be taught.

Solomon Schechter (1847-1915), an outstanding scholar as well as an influential early leader of American Judaism's Conservative Movement (see Wikipedia for a short biography and cross-references), didn't agree with the conventional wisdom of his fellow-Talmudists.
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