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Is it Possible to Write a History of Jewish Thought?

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image of Review of Rabbinic Judaism

In the past few years, traditional scholars and would-be innovators have been locked in controversy over the scholarly study of Qabbalah. The field of Jewish philosophical thought, however, has witnessed no such upheavals. This is not to say that no progress has been made: Texts are being rescued from oblivion; philosophical systems are constantly under review. However, little work has been done in the direction of a new scholarly awareness of the history of Jewish thought wholly outside the area of mysticism. This situation is clearly mirrored in various attempts to write and document the history of Jewish philosophy. In what follows I describe various aspects of current efforts to write the history of ideas in the area of medieval and modern Jewish thought and speculate on what might have been. Without intending to exhaust the topic of the historiography of Jewish ideas, I would like to propose some new goals for future research into Jewish rationalism.


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