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Theological and philosophical premises of Judaism

ISBN: 978-1-934843-19-2

Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2017

Объем (стр):255


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Classical Judaism imagined the situation of the people of Israel to be unique among the nations of the earth in three aspects. The nations lived in unclean lands, contaminated by corpses and redolent of death. They themselves were destined to die without hope of renewed life after the grave. They were prisoners of secular time, subject to the movement and laws of history in its inexorable logic. Heaven did not pay attention to what they did and did not care about their conduct, so long as they observed the basic decencies mandated by the commandments that applied to the heirs of Noah, seven fundamental rules in all. That is not how Israel the holy people was conceived. The Israel contemplated by Rabbinic Judaism lived in sacred space and in enchanted time, all the while subject to the constant surveillance of an eye that sees all, an ear that hears all, and a sentient being that recalls all. Why the divine obsession with Israel? God yearned for Israel’s love and constantly contemplated its conduct. The world imagined by the Rabbis situated Israel in an enchanted kingdom, a never-never land, and conceived of God as omniscient and ubiquitous. Here Neusner shows that in its generative theology, Rabbinic Judaism in its formative age invoked the perpetual presence of God overseeing all that Israelites said and did. It conceived of Israel as transcending the movement of history and living in a perpetual present tense. Israel located itself in a Land like no other, and it organized its social order in a hierarchical structure ascending to the one God situated at the climax and head of all being.


Preface vii
1. SPEECH: An eye that sees an ear that hears 3
i. Know before whom you are going to give a full account of yourself 3
ii. Oaths 5
iii. Vows and the Nazirite Vow in Particular 14
2. TIME: “Considerations of Temporal Priority or Posteriority Do Not Enter into the Torah” 35
i. Temporal Sequence Does Not Apply to the Torah 35
ii. The Present-Tense Past: Scripture Re-Presented in the Immediacy of the Moment 37
iii. How are events treated, if not as unique indicators of the movement of history? Patterning Events. Mishnah-tractate Ta’anit 4:6–7 44
iv. History in the Torah and in the Mishnah 47
v. How the Mishnah Configures Israel in the Context of History Defined by God. How the Destruction of the Temple Figures in Mishnah-tractate Rosh Hashanah 4:1–3 49
vi. Patterning the History of the Sacrificial Cult: Mishnah-Tractate Zebahim 14:4–10 51
vii. A Messiah in the Mishnah: Mishnah-tractate Sotah Chapter Nine 55
3. SPACE: The land of Israel is holier than all lands 59
i. The Locative Dimension 59
ii. Taking life to Sustain Israel’s life: Hullin 68
iii. The Domestic Table Compared with the Temple Altar 70
iv. The Particular Laws of Mishnah-Tractate Hullin 72
v. Gradations of Sanctification 80
vi. Why Hullin in Particular 82
vii. Location, Occasion, the Character of the Encounter, in God’s Context, of God and the Israelite 84
4. ANALYSIS: Hierarchical classification and the Law’s Philosophical Demonstration of Monotheism 89
i. Hierarchical classification 89
ii. Aristotle and the Mishnah’s Deductive Reasoning 97
iii. Message: The Taxonomic Power of Human Intentionality 100
iv. The Judaism behind 116
i. The Three Types of Mixtures 117
ii. Zebahim 123
iii. Hullin 125
iv. Temurah 125
v. Miqvaot 125
vi. Makhshirin 127
vii. Mixtures in the First Division of the Halakhah: Bikkurim 128
viii. Conclusion 149
6. ANALYSIS: Intentionality 150
i. Defining Intentionality, Attitude 150
ii. Intentionality and Freedom of Will 160
iii. The Manipulation and Application of power 166
iv. The point of differentiation within the political structures, supernatural and natural alike, lies in the attitude and intention of a human being 171
v. The Sources of Power: The Will of God and the Will of Man 175
7. Integrating the System 179
i. At the Center of the System 179
ii. Defining Zekhut 184
iii. Specific Meanings of Zekhut in Particular Contexts 186
iv. Zekhut in Genesis Rabbah 193
v. Deeds that Generate Zekhut 199
vi. Relationships 203
8. Living in the kingdom of God 206
i. The Rationality of the Israelite Social Order 206
ii. Approved Emotions 211
iii. Competition for the Status of “Being Israel” 215
iv. From Philosophy to Religion: The Kingdom of Heaven and the City of God 218
v. The Question of History Once Again 227
Index of Ancient Sources 235
Index of Subjects 242

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