Beyond Reasonable Doubt

Louis Jacobs

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ISBN: 9781904113119

Publication: July 1, 2004

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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More than forty years have passed since Louis Jacobs first put forward the argument that traditionally observant Jews have no reason to take issue with the results obtained by the historical critics in their investigation into the Bible and the other classical sources of Judaism. In his numerous works on Jewish theology and in lectures worldwide, Jacobs has argued that the traditional doctrine which claims that 'the Torah is from Heaven' can and should be maintained - provided that the word 'from' is understood in a non-fundamentalist way to denote that there is a human as well as a divine element in the Torah: God revealing His will not only to but through the Jewish people in their historical experiences as they reached out to Him. As a result of these views, which were first published in the still-controversial text We Have Reason to Believe, the Anglo-Jewish Orthodox hierarchy banned Jacobs from serving as an Orthodox rabbi. This was the cause of the notorious 'Jacobs affair', which culminated in the creation of the New London Synagogue and, eventually, in the establishment of Masorti in the UK, a movement having strong affinities with Conservative Judaism in the United States. In this book, Louis Jacobs examines afresh all the issues involved. He does so objectively but with passion, meeting the objections put forward by critics from the various trends within the Jewish world, both Orthodox and Reform, and inviting readers to follow the argument and make up their own minds. 

Louis Jacobs, founding rabbi of the New London Synagogue, was a renowned scholar with an international reputation as a lecturer. He was the author of The Jewish Religion: A Companion (1995) and of many other distinguished books, several of them published by the Littman Library, including Beyond Reasonable Doubt (1999), Hasidic Prayer (paperback 1993), and Theology in the Responsa (paperback 2005), as well as an edition and translation of Zevi Hirsch Eichenstein’s Turn Aside from Evil and Do Good (1995). He died in 2006.

1 Introduction: The ‘Jacobs Affair’ 2 Liberal Supernaturalism 3 Is it Traditional? 4 Is it Scientific? 5 The Mitsvot: God-Given or Man-Made? 6 Orthodoxy 7 Reform 8 Secular Judaism 9 Mysticism 10 Modernism and Interpretation 11 Conclusion Glossary Bibliography Index

'Jacobs cogently and clearly presents his views on diverse topics.' Roger S. Kohn, Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter

 'Brims with scholarship and is powerfully argued. Jacobs's mastery of the full range of Jewish religious sources-legal, philosophical, and mystical-is apparent on every page, and is well deployed in making his case for liberal supernaturalism as a breakthrough religious synthesis. And that case is hardly a timely one, for Jacobs is hardly alone in hungering for a form of traditionalism that can combine halakhic observance with an open intellectual outlook. Indeed, this is today the shared meeting ground of the right wing of Conservative Judaism and the left wing of the Orthodox movement.' David Singer, Commentary

 'A learned and compelling argument for an enlightened form of traditional Judaism ... written in a lucid, accessible style for lay readers, who will benefit enormously from Rabbi Jacobs's honest and critical assessment of the major tendencies in contemporary Judaism ... a major critique of Jewish fundamentalism and a compelling alternative to it.' Allan Nadler, Forward

 'Here is a scholar who ... has much to offer British Jewry.' Cecil Bloom, Jerusalem Post

 'The book will enlighten because Jacobs is a reliable and lucid authority on the issues discussed.' Robert Weissman, Jewish Quarterly

 'A very personal, and very mature and honest, statement of "where I stand".' Norman Solomon, Journal of Jewish Studies

 'The most engaging aspect of the book is the personal style in which it is written. The book is positively brought alive by a wealth of personal anecdotes and stories.' Emma Conway, Le'ela
 

Format: Paperback

Size: 234 x 156 x 14 mm

278 Pages

ISBN: 9781904113119

Publication: July 1, 2004

Series: The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization

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