50.01 Intellectuality (pps.36-39)
hard cover page 36
Judaism’s intellectuality is, along with its monotheistic orientation, one of its essential characteristics. According to a midrash, Abraham’s break with idol worship was both an intellectual and a religious revolution. Judaism is rightfully proud and rightfully protective of the intellectual rigor of Talmudic exegesis and of post-Talmudic scholarship. The “people of the book’ must carefully protect the intellectual strength, authenticity, and vigor of the book as well.
Judaism has survived in large measure because of its intellectual rigor. It is puzzling that a religion whose concern with intellect, as a rule. borders on the extreme, does not currently demand more from its theology in general, and its theodicy in particular. Areas are either left unexplored or are consigned to the netherworlds of the “inscrutability of God” or “finite man’s inability to grasp the infinite.”
Theologians sometimes ignore the fact that the finite/infinite defense can equally well apply to systems of belief which are anathema to Judaism. Idol worshippers, devil worshippers, and child-sacrificers can all give the finite/infinite defense a good workout. The finite/infinite defense has its place, but we question its appropriateness as a central element of Jewish theodicy.
Most Western religious philosophies correctly proclaim that
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