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David Novak: An Intellectual Portrait

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Chapter Summary

David Novak's many works revolve around the intersection of traditional Judaism and the modern world. More than other contemporary Jewish philosophers, Novak possesses a singular ability to connect with Christian, especially Catholic, theologians and, as we shall see presently, interreligious dialogue becomes another important feature within his work. Novak holds a PhD in philosophy and has received rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America (JTS). Since Novak regards political thought as raising the most pressing philosophical issues for Judaism in the contemporary period, he tries to establish an important link between the rabbinic tradition and the modern democratic society, which he contends is the one optimal for both human flourishing in general and Jewish flourishing in particular. It is precisely this context that informs his interest in natural law, the social contract, and covenantal rights.

Keywords: Christianity; covenantal rights; David Novak; Jewish theological seminary of America (JTS); natural law; rabbinic tradition; social contract; traditional Judaism



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