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God in Rabbinic Tradition: Human Reasoning and Divine Authority

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Abstract In this paper I contend that rabbinic reasoning reflects a conceptual framework that is based upon a dual notion of divinity. The first notion is of a transcendent God, who created the world and is removed from it. The second is a notion of an immanent God who prescribes law and participates in the human activity of transmitting it. Here God functions as a “first among equals.” The transcendent notion lends rabbinic reasoning its truth value and absolute authority, while the immanent notion allows God’s commanding will to continue its role in prescribing communal life through history. Rabbinic reasoning is the logic derived from this dual notion. Through readings of rabbinic works I demonstrate that the rabbis developed this reasoning by creating conceptual spaces that assume these two notions. These conceptual spaces are based upon the human structures of a court of law and a house of worship, within which processes of reasoning occur.

Affiliations: 1: The Shalem Center, Jerusalem 13 Yehoshua Ben-Nun, Jerusalem Israel


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