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Why I Am a Theologian Rather Than a Philosopher

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Chapter Summary

Enough people have been puzzled by author's calling himself a theologian rather than a philosopher, the more common Jewish term for a religious thinker, that a few words about that seem warranted. As Jews emerged into the modern world during the nineteenth century and their approaches to knowledge were shaped by the university, they quickly gave up their old textual forms of reasoning for the then-current philosophical ways of thinking. Two major factors impelled this development. First, the greatest universities of that time were located in Germany, and philosophy was considered their chief glory. Second, modernizing Jews were desperately eager to prove that they were just like everyone else, and philosophy focused on the truths that all rational minds should share, producing an invigorating climate for those seeking to shed their old Jewish baggage.

Keywords: academic Jewish studies; philosophy; theologian



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