The crucial question for today's Jewish world,
Menachem Kellner argues, is not whether Jews will have Jewish grandchildren,
but how many different sorts of mutually exclusive Judaisms those grandchildren
will face. Kellner's short, brisk, and accessible book examines how the split
that threatens the Jewish future can be avoided.
The first six chapters of this strongly argued
book analyse what religious faith means in classical Judaism and will be of
interest to anyone seeking lucid insights into the nature of Judaism. The final
chapter builds upon the conclusions of the first six in order to argue for a
new way of construing the relationship of Orthodoxy to non-Orthodox Jews and
institutions. Kellner argues that the Orthodox practice of framing the debate
with non-Orthodox movements in terms of dogmatic fidelity contrasted with
heresy is not the traditional Jewish approach, and that the debate could well
be framed in other ways, ways that would allow all Jews to work together
towards a less polarized Jewish future.
a Jew Believe Anything? has the potential to make a difference to how
Orthodoxy understands itself and its relationship to other Jewish movements in
the modern world.
For the second edition, the author has added a
substantial Afterword, reviewing his thinking on the subject and addressing the
reactions to the original edition.
Menachem Kellner is Wolfson Professor Emeritus of Jewish Thought at the University of Haifa and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Shalem College, Jerusalem. He is the author of Dogma in Medieval Jewish Thought and Maimonides' Confrontation with Mysticism and translator of Isaac Abravanel's Principles of Faith, all published by the Littman Library. He is also the author of Maimonides on Human Perfection, Maimonides on Judaism and the Jewish People, and Maimonides on the `Decline of the Generations' and the Nature of Rabbinic Authority among other books. His translations of Gersonides' Commentary on Song of Songs and Maimonides' Book of Love appeared in the Yale Judaica Series. Professor Kellner's critical editions of the original texts of Abravanel's Principles of Faith and of Gersonides' Commentary on Song of Songs were published in Hebrew.
Introduction 1 Two Types of Faith Faith, Belief, and Trust * Emunah in the Torah * Theology and the Torah * Classical Judaism and the Absence of Dogma 2 Rabbinic Thought Testing for `Required Beliefs' * An Objection: Mishnah Sanhedrin x. 1 * A Defence of Dogma * Heretics and Sectarians * A `Theology' of Action 3 Why Judaism Acquired a Systematic Theology Behaviour and Belief * Extrinsic Reasons for the Lack of Systematic Theology in Judaism * Why Systematic Theology Developed among the Jews * The Importation of Theology 4 Maimonides: Dogma without Dogmatism Maimonides' Dogmas * Maimonides on Inadvertent Heresy * Maimonides on Conversion and the Nature of Faith * Maimonides on Leaving Judaism * Maimonides' `Non-dogmatic' Dogmas: Science and Religious Faith * Maimonides on Truth * The Logic of Righteousness: Reason and Faith 5 Maimonides: Impact, Implications, Challenges The Impact * The Implications * Challenges to Maimonides * Was Maimonides Inconsistent? The Karaites 6 Heresy-hunting Orthodoxy and Heresy * Theology and Halakhah: A Category Mistake * Three Contemporary Orthodox Statements: Freedom of Enquiry; The Illegitimacy of the Non-Orthodox; Inclusivism * The Three Statements: A Critique * Why has Maimonides' Position become Dominant? * The Maimonidean Bind 7 How to Live with Other Jews Asking the Right Question * So Who or What is a Jew Anyway? * Non-Orthodox Jews and Judaisms * Maimonides and the Objectivity of Truth Afterword Appendix 1 Maimonides on Reward and Punishment Appendix 2 The Thirteen Principles Appendix 3 Yigdal and Ani ma'amin Note on Transliteration Note on Citation of Classical Sources Glossary Biographical Notes on Jewish Thinkers Bibliography Index