The Rabbinic God and Mediaeval Judaism

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From the earliest stages of Wissenschaft des Judentums, scholars of Judaism typically read statements about God in the classical sources of Judaism with a mediaeval philosophical lens. By doing so, they sought to demonstrate the essential unity and continuity between rabbinic Judaism, later mediaeval Jewish philosophy and modern Judaism. In the late 1980s, the Maimonidean hold on rabbinic scholarship began to crack when the ‘revisionist school’ sought to drive a wedge between rabbinic Judaism, on the one hand, and Maimonidean Judaism, on the other hand, by highlighting the deep continuities and links between rabbinic Judaism and mediaeval Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah). The revisionist scholars regarded rabbinic Judaism as a pre-cursor to mediaeval Kabbalah rather than mediaeval Jewish philosophy. This article provides the history of scholarship on these two methods of reading rabbinic texts and then proposes that scholars adopt a third method. That is, building on the work of recent scholarship, we should confront theological rabbinic texts on their own terms, without the guiding hand of either mediaeval Jewish framework.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-390
JournalCurrents in Biblical Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017


  • anthropomorphism
  • God
  • Jewish
  • Kabbalah
  • Maimonides
  • Midrash
  • philosophy
  • rabbinic
  • Talmud
  • theology
  • Zohar


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