As long ago as 1996, Jon Levenson wrote an important article, “The Universal Horizon of Biblical Particularism.” In that piece he reflected on the way in which the Hebrew Bible adjudicated the particularity of Israel and a reach beyond Israel to the nations.
One of the most interesting shifts in Christian theology after the Shoah was in how the adjective Jewish was used. In the patristic era, to call someone’s work Jewish was to insult it: the work was too fleshly or legalistic. Since the Shoah, to call someone’s work Jewish is to praise it as appropriately this-worldly, concerned with the ordinary stuff of life, embodied.
The interface of Jewish and Christian theology has always been vexing. Partly this is because of the intrinsically incommensurate realities of the two faiths. And partly it has been because of Christian interpreters' uncritical practice of supersessionism, which has been combined with political power that is used in controlling and abusive ways.
Academic theology can have a future only if theologians themselves are interested in it. Why should anybody else read it if theologians are so caught up in experimenting with every philosophical movement and political program that they ignore their own field? If this volume is any indication, theology seems to have rediscovered itself as a tradition with its own resources and issues.
What came first, the chicken of belief or the egg of ritual? And how do they relate to each other? This is a central question posed by Arnold Eisen in his absorbing and wide-ranging account of contemporary Jewish practice. The transformation of that practice resulted from two events sparked by the French Revolution: the Enlightenment and the emancipation of the Jews.