Thursday, February 11, 2010

The Narcissism of Do-It-Yourself Jewish Theology

As pointed out by the journal Tradition's online editor (link), the journal has made available to the public three articles about revelation and the history of halakhah. I found this particularly useful analysis of Louis Jacobs' theology of revelation that can be aptly used to describe today's skeptics. Menachem Kellner writes in a 1974 article (link):

He seems too willing to judge the teachings of Judaism by what he takes to be the standards of "modernity" and not willing enough to judge these standards by the teachings of Judaism.

This problem is further compounded by the fact that the author's criterion for what is acceptable to "moderns" (a term he uses constantly) really seems to boil down to what is acceptable to Louis Jacobs. The book thus threatens occasionally to degenerate into a highly idiosyncratic or possibly even narcissistic affair.

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