For Louis Jacobs, the quest—engaging with and thinking about Jewish faith—was a lifelong pursuit. He offered a model for an observant, committed, but intellectually curious Judaism, that empowered individual seekers to address challenges to faith. His theology emerged in the 1960s, a period characterized by general religious crisis. In Orthodox Judaism a battle was under way for religious control. Generating a widespread controversy known as the ‘Jacobs affair’, his thought offers a lens for examining the trajectory of Orthodoxy. Today, the focus of debate has shifted considerably, reflecting the changing cultural and intellectual concerns of a ‘post-secular’ age. Yet Jacobs’s emphasis on a personal quest is as relevant as ever.This first book-length analysis of his theology unpacks the building blocks of his thought. It argues that, despite its particularities and limitations, his approach can provide a powerful model for contemporary religious seekers in the context of a growing impetus away from established, denominationally bound, forms of religion. Many Orthodox Jews still prefer the certainty of unquestionable religious truth claims, rather than pursuing a subjective search for religious meaning. For those seeking alternative models for the contemporary Jewish quest a reconsideration of Jacobs’s theology can offer valuable tools.
‘A major study of an important twentieth-century Jewish thinker and religious leader, whom I was privileged to know and learn from.’
David Novak, Fellow of St. Michael's College, University of Toronto