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.

xii  PREFACE the first theme, mediation between Judaism and contemporary culture. Despite the length of this book, I still have had to omit many matters that concern me greatly, three of them so important that I must offer some explanation. The first is feminist Jewish theology. Though I engage the ideas of many theologians in this book, feminist Jewish thinkers are not among them. I read feminist theologians with great interest and ben-efit but do not know how to join in discussion with them without importing a male and hence, from their perspective, problematic grounding experience. Since men have long determined how women ought to think, I think it best to listen and learn in respectful si-lence until women clarify how men can join them in common delib-eration. I hope, however, that feminists will find that much of what concerns them has a significant place in these pages. That manifests itself in gender- free language with but one exception, the word “ God.” Of all the substitutes, some of which inclusivist syntax has required of me, I find none as satisfactory as this troubled old word that still trails sanctity despite its penumbra of masculinity. Another, more longstanding influence on my thought finds no explicit mention here, namely, Steven S. Schwarzchild, zikhrono livrakhah, whose untimely death occurred when I was well into this book. For forty- some years he and I debated rationalism versus nonrationalism, philosophy versus theology, radical versus meliora-tive ethics. After a while we didn’t even need to butt heads; we merely sent each other our papers, knowing full well how the other would react. The preeminent Jewish neo- Kantian of our time, he devoted himself to demonstrating the incomparable philosophic adequacy and truth of Hermann Cohen. He stands, muttering I would guess, behind my ongoing dissent from Cohen’s and other philosophic rationalisms. I also make no mention of my lifelong intellectual and human companion, Arnold Jacob Wolf. He has been the most consistently cogent and loving critic of my insistence on setting personal free-dom at the center of Jewish existence. Although I have, as always, tried to keep his strictures in mind, I know I shall again trouble him, for I do not write so much about my doubts as about my beliefs— and I seem to be serenely certain about them. I have no lack of per-plexities, though mine do not seem to me to be as continually tor-menting or anguishing as the spiritual agony others report. I do not know why, but to some extent it comes from my regular experience   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 AngelsBrushing 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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