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The Last Rabbi: Joseph Soloveitchik and Talmudic Tradition (New Jewish Philosophy and Thought) Hardcover – September 19, 2016
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"Kolbrener's book appreciates Soloveitchik as a Jewish thinker, but claims a role for him in the intellectual history of the twentieth century." ―Lawrence Kaplan, McGill University
"The Last Rabbi provides a refreshingly new and different understanding of this enigmatic figure…Although much of Kolbrener’s foray into Soloveitchik’s psyche is speculative, it does provide an innovative and fascinating new perspective on one of the mostimportant, yet elusive, Jewish thinkers of the past century. For those interested in Jewish though, this is certainly a thought-provoking read." ―Times Higher Education
"This groundbreaking book takes an entirely novel and highly illuminating approach to the thought of Joseph Dov ha-Levi Soloveitchik, at once one of the greatest Talmudists, one of the greatest Jewish philosophers, and one of the greatest religious personalities of the twentieth century. Informed by psychoanalysis and literary theory, Kolbrener sheds new light both on previously discussed aspects of Soloveitchik's thought, such as his cognitive pluralist defence of Talmudic study, and on neglected aspects, such as his explorations of family and gender. What emerges is a far richer and more complicated figure, whose thought may be engaged in many more ways than hitherto imagined. The implications of Kolbrener's book are very great indeed." ―Paul Franks, Yale University, Philosophy and Judaic Studies
"Kolbrenner masterfully weaves a portrait of a very brilliant and complex individual who both successfully and unsuccessfully straddled the lines between the Yeshiva World and the world of Philosophy." ―Jewish History Channel
"This revolutionary work offers a powerful lens through which to read the writings of the pioneering 20th-Century talmudist and Jewish philosopher, Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik, the driving force behind American modern Orthodoxy…Kolbrener’s work musters a dazzling panoply of Jewish and general sources to re-examine the life and works of the most influential American talmudist. The Last Rabbi is a challenging, yet rewarding, read and ironically raises the threshold for future studies of Soloveitchik to the extent that this work may itself be the "last"." ―Jewish Chronicle
"This is a unique work, which creatively forges conversations among unlikely interlocutors and which, though emerging out of the study of a single thinker, Joseph Soloveitchik, has much broader ambitions. Kolbrener disrupts the boundaries between academic fields while ably employing their diverse methods and similarly asking his readers to open themselves to difference." ―Yonatan Brafman, Jewish Theological Seminary
"The author, William Kolbrenner, a professor of English at Bar Ilan University, weaves his interests in Jewish thought and literature into his powerful examination, providing readers with a 'thought biography' that challenges us to consider Rabbi Soloveitchik as the 'reluctant modern.'" ―Jewish Book Council
About the Author
William Kolbrener is Professor of English at Bar Ilan University in Israel.With degrees from Oxford and Columbia, Kolbrener has written extensively on the literature, philosophy, and theology of early modern England, with his Milton's Warring Angels (1996) and his edited volume, Mary Astell: Reason, Gender, Faith (2008). Kolbrener also writes on psychoanalysis, culture, and contemporary religion; his Open Minded Torah: Of Irony, Fundamentalism and Love was published in 2011.