Benjamin D. Sommer Marc Zvi Brettler, How to Read the Bible . Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society, 2005. 283 pp $35 As a professor of biblical studies, I am frequently sent textbooks in biblical studies, and I often consult academic introductions to the field as well. None of them is as clear, sophisticated, and readable
Paula Brody What does Torah teach us about the ethics of relating to in-laws and others in our family, and our friends and colleagues, who are of other faith traditions? Perhaps the most relevant texts are in Exodus, enabling us to study the relationship between Moses and his father-in-law, Yitro (commonly translated as Jethro), who
A recent encounter with a rabbinical student forced me confront a reality that I had long tried to avoid. We were discussing God: How do we know about God? What can we say about God? and the rest, when the student’s hand shot up. “Why are we discussing all of this? What we need from you is some practical help on how to get Jews to have a kosher home or keep Shabbat. Theology is irrelevant.”
Creation has been the neglected question in modern Jewish theology. Partly because the issue did not fit well with the particularist agenda (“How are we different from our Christian neighbors?”), but, also because we feared taking a clear position either supporting or opposing evolutionary theory, Jewish thinkers have remained mostly silent on the subject of life’s origins.
Central to the creation of a new Jewish environmental theology is the necessity of grounding this theology in the recent discussions about the relationship between science and religion, found mostly so far in Christian circles. In his approach to creation theology, Arthur Green has suggested a typology for that relationship in which religious language and scientific language exist in separate but equally valid realms.
We are told that the Land of Israel was assigned to us as a sacred trust. That trust, if we are to take it seriously includes the care of its holy soil, water, air, and animal life. The health of the land is also a good barometer of the health of the Zionist movement. Zionism stands not just for returning the People to the Land, but also the care of that very Land so that the Jewish People may thrive on it.
Notwithstanding the rhetoric of denial prevalent in some religious circles, sexual orientation is known, by those with first-hand experience of homosexuality as well as by scientists who study it, to be either genetically determined or so deeply developmentally ingrained as to be fundamentally unchangeable. For Jews, this reality of gay and lesbian identity presents a theological question: Why does God make some people gay?
1. Is theology relevant today?
2. Does pluralism dilute the “truth” of Judaism?
3. How do recent discussions about Intelligent Design fit with your understanding of the creation of the world?