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Rabbinic Theology: A System 1

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Abstract Rabbinic Theology starts with a doctrine of a world order that is just and concludes with eternal life, thus presenting a simple logic that animates all the parts of its system and makes them cohere. Its generative categories prove not only imperative and irreducible but also logically sequential. Each of the four parts of the theology of Rabbinic Judaism—[1] the perfectly just character of world order, [2] indications of its perfection, [3] sources of its imperfection, [4] media for the restoration of world order and their results—belongs in its place and set in any other sequence the four units become incomprehensible. Not only so, but each proposition draws upon its predecessor and points toward its successor, forming an unfolding story that can be told in only one direction and in the dictated order and in no other way. That is the mark of a well-crafted theology, a coherent structure, a compelling system. If you can imagine a world perfected by the tastes and aspirations of the rational mind, then you can enter into the world portrayed by the documents of Rabbinic Judaism. The writings for theology are read all together and all at once as a single coherent statement. They portray the reason why things are now as they are. And they show the logic of that reason, revealing its integrity in the working of justice throughout. The sages emphasize the perfection of the timeless, flawless creation that God forms and governs in accord with wholly rational and accessible rules. If everything fits together and works coherently, it is because, as philosophers maintain in their realm of reflection, a single, unitary logic (“logos”), the logic of monotheism comprised by the one just, therefore reasonable and benevolent God, prevails.

Affiliations: 1: Institute for Advanced Theology, Bard College Annandale-on-Hudson, New York 12504 USA


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