Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for...

Renewing the Covenant presents the first systematic statement of theology since Abraham J. Heschel set forth his distinctive, comprehensive philosophy of Judaism. This unique book will long be discussed by thoughtful readers.

x  PREFACE continuing truth. I called for carrying on a Jewish critique of the reigning intellectual systems while also learning from what remained spiritually compelling in them. So to speak, I wanted to reverse the liberalistic procedure of having the culture tell us what remained true in Judaism and instead do Jewish theology from the inside out. I soon discovered how elusive a goal I had set for myself. Basing my initial effort on my doctoral work in rabbinic theology and fur-ther graduate study in contemporary philosophy of religion. I at-tempted to accomplish both the apologetic and traditional goals by explicating the theological entailments of what I divined to be the implicit key concept of classic ( i. e., biblical- rabbinic) Judaism, namely, the Covenant. I abandoned this approach when I realized that my assertion of a conceptual core to Jewish religiosity repeated the methodological error I decried in the liberals. The problem of the Jewish authenticity of a new non- Orthodox Jewish theology now became very much more challenging: it could not simply be done “ from the inside out.” Even in the loose, wary sense in which I employ the term “ theology”— meaning orderly re-flection about Jewish belief— the enterprise has no biblical or talmudic warrant. Jewish theology and philosophy arise out of Jew-ish marginality in cultures that esteem Hellenic ratiocination. This situation is common to Philo and Maimonides but not to Babylonians like Rava and Abbaye or East Europeans like the Besht and the Vilna Gaon, none of whom worked at theology. Systematic thinking about Jewish belief inevitably involves some initial accommodation to the surrounding culture. Thus, authenticity can only mean a resolute confrontation between the culture’s truth and as faithful an under-standing of classic Jewish faith as learning, belief, and practice can provide. As long as one remains on this speculative/ historical level, the undertaking remains much the same for Orthodox and non- Or-thodox thinkers. The distinctions emerge only as non- Orthodoxy manifests itself in the modification of a classic Jewish affirmation because of a recognized truth in the general culture. In my case, it was a root belief that personal dignity means having substantial self-determination. I next attacked this issue on the basis of the later thought of Ludwig Wittgenstein. Wittgenstein had given contemporary philoso-phy— and much of our culture— a decisive linguistic turn by demon-strating the extent to which our efforts to make sense of reality involved creating specialized language patterns, “ language- games,” as they came to be called. This philosophic turn opened up the   C h a p t e r Home  | T O C  | I n d e x For use on stand- alone, non- institutional computers only. To purchase Scholar PDF version with advanced functionality, go to www. publishersrow. com

Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew


About Book Renewing the Covenant: A Theology for the Postmodern Jew

Front MatterBOOKS BY EUGENE B. BOROWITZTitle Page: Renewing the CovenantCopyright PageDedication PageContentsPrefaceIntroduction: The History That Shapes UsPromise, Fulfillment, Destruction, RebuildingSegregation Becomes EqualityThe Survival of the Modern in the Postmodern SpiritWhat Truth Demands Our Mediating Stance?Jewish Religious Experience in Our Time1 Modernization: The Secular MessiahSeparating the Secular from the SacredJudaism for the University-Trained MindFrom German Philosophical Idealism to American NaturalismA Judaism of the Whole Person: ExistentialismThe Jewish Ambivalence of Personal Autonomy2 Modernity: The BetrayerLosing Morality's Religious and Philosophical BasisPostmodernity: An Intuition Seeking Self-understandingBeyond the Self, Even to FundamentalismHeschel, Precursor of Jewish PostmodernityThe Postmodern Resistance to OrthodoxiesA Preliminary Indication of My Religious Stance3 Through the Shadowed ValleyBreaking the Barriers to Debating the HolocaustRubenstein's Death-of-God ChallengeRejecting God's Management of HistoryDenying the Qualitative Uniqueness of the HolocaustOur Good God, Limited or Inscrutable?The Latent Content of the Holocaust DebatesHuman Tzimtzum Makes a Place for GodThe Corollary Ethnic Turn of the Postmodern SensibilityDoes God Still Have a Role in Jewish Particularity?The Postmodern Integrity of Folk and FaithAs We Move to a New Secular MillenniumThe Modern in the PostmodernThe Particular Self That Undertakes This EffortA Postliberal Theology of Jewish Duty I4 God-Israel-Torah: Our Holistic ContextWhat is the Characteristic Jewish Interest in God?The First Criterion: Mandating Jewish DutyThe Second Criterion: Shaping Sacred CommunityThe Third Criterion: Validating a Commanding PietyLiving Experience: The Ultimate ArbiterFour Paradigms for Structuring Jewish Belief(1) The revelation-dominated paradigm of Heschel.(2) The rationalistic model of Cohen and Baeck.(3) Kaplan's socially based philosophy.(4) The Buberian model of the mediating self.The Key to a Fifth Model: The Notion of the Jewish Self5 Not Absolutely AbsoluteThe Weak Absolute in Modern Jewish ThoughtThe Downward Philosophical Career of the AbsoluteSecular Jewish Surrogates for a Religious AbsoluteCan Our Reaction to the Holocaust Be Our Absolute?Where Is the Ultimate Ground for Our Commitments?6 More then ImmanentRationalism's Strategy: God as Logically Necessary IdeaFeeling and Ethnicity as Surrogates for FaithReligiosity as Aesthetics or Behavioral PatternsIs Piety Good Relationships or Deep Self-Knowledge?Mysticism, the Communion of the Self and the OneWords and Symbols for the IneffableOf Continuity, Duty, and Serenity, and Shaping a Life7 Reaching for TranscendenceMoving Back from a Functional God to a Real GodThe Rationality of the Concept of TranscendenceAuthorizing Duty without Debasing AnyoneWhat Do We Mean by “Transcendence”?The Varieties of Experiencing the TranscendentBuber's Version of Transcendence in RelationshipsThe Lesson of Heschel's Strong Teaching of Transcendence8 Sparks: The Transcendent in the EverydayIn Search of a Jewish “Rumor of Angels”Brushing up against the Sacred in Ordinary LifeRecognize the Signals amid the StaticEvading the Transcendent via Jewish EducationUltimately, What Else Powers Jewish Duty?9 The Who/What of GodSince Evil Is Real, God Cannot Be GoodAnother Approach to a Neutral GodGod, the Grounding Premise of GoodnessRadically Limiting God's PowerThe Limited, Real God of Process ThoughtFrom Rational to Nonrational Notions of God's NatureRosenzweig and Buber's Personalistic Views of GodThe Exalted, before Whom Questions Become Silence10 What Does God Still Do?Demythologizing Science as True ExplanationGod, the Agent of CreationCohen and Rosenzweig: Two Philosophical ApproachesTwo Experiential Approaches to CreationCohen and Kaplan: God's Revelation as Human InsightWhat Does an Independent God Reveal?Overcoming the Scandal of a God Who ChoosesBuber and HescheFs Understanding of God the ChooserThe Great Jewish Silence about RetributionA Personal Effort to Break the SilenceHumanizing the Ultimate Jewish HopeOur Experience of the God Who Saves UsA Postliberal Theology of Jewish Duty II11 What Can We Do about Our Will-to-Do-Evil?Trusting the Self to Be the Measure of All ThingsApproaching Hope Pragmatically and PoliticallyTransposing the Optimism to PsychotherapyThe Hopefulness of Jewish ExistentialismThe Rabbis, Premoderns as PostmodernsThe Nearness of Dualism in Heschel's NeokabbalismCombining Mystical Realism and Ethical ActivismThe Rift Within, the Snake Without12 The Social Side of SelfhoodPersonal Autonomy as the Heart of EthicsSocial Surrogates for Reason as the Self's Moral GuideThe Existentialist Ambivalence about the SelfWhat Can Rationalism Now Say to the Sovereign Self?The Related Self: Individual, Yet SocialFrom the Related Self to the Jewish Self13 Fully Human, Fully JewishParticularity: From Subordinate to PartnerJudaism Now Mandates My UniversalismParticularity, the Necessary Ground ofUniversalism TodayMany Religions: An Argument against All Particularity?The Perils of “Explaining” ParticularityThe Interplay of the Particular and the Universal14 The Sparks of ChosennessEquality, Contemporary Jewry's Great PassionIf Everyone Is Equal, How Can We Be Special?Can Our Beliefs Support Chosenness?Tracking the Benefits and the Difficulties of ChosennessFlashes of Chosenness amid Our Secularized Existence15 Covenant, Not ChosennessTwo Early Efforts to Fashion a Rationalistic ParticularismA Third Solution: Redefining Judaism SociologicallyWhat Depth of Value Adheres to Jewish Particularity?The Shift to the Mutuality of PartnershipThe Necessity and Limits of IndividualismToward a Jewish SelfhoodThis Concept Helps Us Understand Jewish Life TodayThe Covenantal Basis of the Rabbis' Uncommon Logic16 The Dialectic of Living in CovenantThe Group's Rightful Authority over Autonomous SelvesThe Special Responsibilities of Religious GroupsGod's Uniqueness Demands a Universal HorizonThe Sovereign God and the Proper Authority of NationsThe Unique Character of the Nation Covenanted to GodThe Theological Context of Jewish PoliticsA Postliberal Theology of Jewish Duty III17 When God DominatesThe Social Causes behind the Turn to FundamentalismsThe Orthodoxies' Limited ToleranceThe Positive Consequences of Finite Religious KnowledgeWhat Legislative Power Properly Rests in the People?What Role Shall We Grant to the Rights of Conscience?How Broad Our Vision? How Deep Our Tradition?Our Clashing Views over the Torah's AuthorshipShould Our Religion Be Segregated from All Else We Know?18 When Community Takes PriorityTaking Our Jewishness SeriouslyGiving the Authoritative Self Covenantal ObligationKaplan's Effort to Empower the Jewish CommunityCan Kaplan's Community “Command” Us?When Ethics Outranks Critical Folk NeedsThe Need for a Theological Theory19 Knowing What God Wants of UsCritiques of the Relational MetaphorMight Objects Disclose God to Us?Is There Direct, Unprocessed Apprehension?Prerational, Personal Religious ExperienceCan We Be Certain Now or Tomorrow?Can Personal Relationship Provide for Social Ethics?Can Relational Revelation Mandate Steady Jewish Action?20 The Jewish SelfThe Truth and the Limits of Secular SelfhoodCan the Noahide Self Take JewishParticularity Seriously?Five Premises for Jewish DutyCommunity, Tradition, and Messianic HopeThe Compelling Selfhood of the Jewish SelfAn Odd but Instructive CaseExercising Responsibility as a Jewish Self: Four InstancesAfterwordGlossaryTwo Bibliographical NotesIndex
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