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A History of Modern Jewish Religious Philosophy, Volume 1: by Eliezer Schweid

By Eliezer Schweid

A finished, interdisciplinary account of the main thinkers and events in sleek Jewish suggestion, within the context of basic philosophy and Jewish social-political historic advancements. quantity 1 (of five) covers the interval from Spinoza during the Enlightenment.

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Additional resources for A History of Modern Jewish Religious Philosophy, Volume 1: The Period of the Enlightenment (Supplements to The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, Volume 14)

Example text

Therefore the prophets acknowledged that God had imbued nature—and humankind—with independent powers. Monotheism rejected absolutely the worship of the forces of nature as divine, but it adopted, by way of adaptation, portions of the ritual of the nature gods together with pantheistic elements that retained a measure of vitality. Because of that positive relationship to the culture that human beings created (by the command of their God), prophetic monotheism did not deny the validity of the reason of man who was created in the image of his Creator.

From this aspect, it is a philosophy “of” religion not because it comes to serve it out of obedience to its directives, but the opposite: because it comes to serve the culture, which needs religion for its own agenda. Therefore philosophy defines religion as a special object for its analysis, and only in this judaism, philosophy and modernity 33 sense is the inquiry “of” religion, to include it, in its uniqueness, into the systematic thought-process that unites all the autonomous realms of knowledge and creation of humanity.

One may say that the appearance of his book Jerusalem in 1781 signaled the official beginning of modern Jewish philosophy. Except that this conclusion requires qualification. Theoretical expressions that were preparatory—and even prophetic—of Mendelssohn’s new views had already appeared long before in Italy (for instance, the writings of Judah Abravanel ), in Prague (the writings of the Maharal),8 in the congregations of the conversos who reclaimed their Judaism in Amsterdam, and also in Germany.

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