State University of New York Press

SUNY series in Judaica: Hermeneutics, Mysticism, and Religion

Michael Fishbane

Published by: State University of New York Press

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SUNY series in Judaica: Hermeneutics, Mysticism, and Religion

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Between Kant and Kabbalah

An Introduction to Isaac Breuer's Philosophy of Judaism

This is the first full-length, systematic study in English of Isaac Breuer, a founder of Agudat Israel, whose intellectual achievements reflected the world of Franz Rosenzweig and Martin Buber in an Orthodox mirror. It sheds light on an often neglected aspect of German Jewry’s last phase and reclaims Breuer as a paradigmatic figure in the Jewish encounter with modernity.

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Between Worlds

The Life and Thought of Rabbi David ben Judah Messer Leon

It is a work of sound scholarship dealing with an interesting historical figure and his unique cultural world. The author focuses correctly on the transition from Italian to Ottoman Jewish culture in the life of David Messer Leon and reveals much about the continuities and discontinuities between both societies. He nicely fuses social and intellectual history, and uses a life to illuminate a number of interesting and important cultural trends among early modern Jews, particularly the integration of kabbalah and philosophy, Humanism and Thomism. The presentation of the symbiotic nature of Jewish culture with contemporary intellectual trends and the appropriation of Christian theological strategies by a Jewish thinker to explain Judaism make this study a fascinating one.

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Binding of Isaac and Messiah, The

Law, Martyrdom, and Deliverance in Early Rabbinic Religiosity

The author provides an interpretation of the words of Jews living during the intertestamental period and through the third century, including several hassidim. A hermeneutics grounded in the perception of early Rabbinic texts as sharing in events rather than as linguistically autonomous is used. The phenomenology of Jewish martyrdom is read as an acting-out of the Binding of Isaac. The search leads into the question of the bindingness of the Law. The religious soul’s passion for the revelation of Law is followed out in its path of temptation to martyrdom. A grand drama of sacrifice and messianic yearnings is thereby unearthed.

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Books of Contemplation, The

Medieval Jewish Mystical Sources

The earliest medieval Jewish mystical writings, or kabbalah, date from the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. This is the first book to focus on the most prodigious group active at that time—the ‘Circle of Contemplation’.

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Enlightened Will Shine, The

Symbolization and Theurgy in the Later Strata of the Zohar

This book analyzes the use of symbolism and theurgy in two sections of the Zohar, the central text of the kabbalah. These compositions, Tiqqunei ha-Zohar and Ra’aya Meheimna have been particularly loved by kabbalists. Giller demonstrates the significance of their contributions to theosophical kabbalah.

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Episode of Jewish Romanticism, An

Franz Rosenzweig's The Star of Redemption

Assesses the impact of romanticism on the thought of Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig. Examining romanticism in the thought of Jewish philosopher, Franz Rosenzweig, this book compares his magnum opus, The Star of Redemption, with Leo Baeck’s essay, “Romantic Religion,” and Friedrich Schelling’s Philosophy of Art, texts representing two distinct and, to a large extent, opposed interpretations of romanticism. Rosenzweig’s thought was shaped by two intellectual histories: Germany’s and Judaism’s. Because romanticism had such a definite impact on modern German writing and thought, it becomes a question whether, and to what extent, Rosenzweig, too, was a romantic. Part of the force of the question derives from the tensions sometimes noted between Jewish and romantic worldviews. In this book, author Ernest Rubinstein shows The Star of Redemption to be along the spectrum of ideas that extends between Baeck and Schelling, and thus illustrates a qualified romanticism.

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Esther in Medieval Garb

Jewish Interpretation of the Book of Esther in the Middle Ages

This comprehensive history, the first to appear in English, gives a vivid portrayal of the Book of Esther’s role in the intellectual and cultural life of Jews in the Middle Ages. Much of the study is based on material that exists only in manuscripts, and it introduces many exegetes hitherto unknown or unstudied.

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Footprints of God, The

Divine Accommodation in Jewish and Christian Thought

This book traces one exegetical, interpretative principal, divine accommodation, in Jewish and Christian thought from the first to the nineteenth century. The focus is upon major figures and the place of accommodation in their work.

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Four Approaches to the Book of Psalms

From Saadiah Gaon to Abraham Ibn Ezra

Uriel Simon describes the fascinating controversy that raged from the tenth to the twelfth centuries regarding the theological status and literary genre of the Psalms. Saadiah Gaon, who initiated the controversy, claimed that the Psalter was a second Torah—the Lord’s word to David—and by no means man’s prayer to God. Salmon ben Yerucham and Yefet ben Ali insisted on the Karaite view that the Book of Psalms was the prophetic common prayerbook of Israel. Totally opposing both of these concepts, Rabbi Moses Ibn Giqatilah regarded the Psalms as non-prophetic prayers authored by different poets, beginning with David and ending with the captive Levites in the Babylonian exile. Finally, Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra reverted to the belief held by the Talmudic sages—that the Psalms were Israel’s divinely inspired and most sacred poetry.

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From Tradition to Commentary

Torah and Its Interpretation in the Midrash Sifre to Deuteronomy

This book examines Torah and its interpretation both as a recurring theme in the early rabbinic commentary and as the very practice of the commentary. It studies the phenomenon of ancient rabbinic scriptural commentary in relation to the perspectives of literary and historical criticisms and their complex intersection. The author discusses extensively the nature of ancient commentary, comparing and contrasting it with the antecedents in the pesharim of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the allegorical commentaries of Philo of Alexandria. He develops a model for a dynamic understanding of the literary structure and sociohistorical function of early rabbinic commentary, and then applies this model to the Sifre — to the oldest extant running commentary to Deuteronomy and one of the oldest rabbinic collections of exegesis.

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