Judaism and Oth­er Reli­gions: Mod­els of Understanding

Alan Brill
  • Review
By – October 10, 2011

In con­ver­sa­tions with Chris­t­ian lay peo­ple and cler­gy, at inter­faith pro­grams and across neigh­bor­ly yards, the ques­tion inevitably comes up, What is the Jew­ish view of Jesus and Chris­tian­i­ty?” This thor­ough­ly researched and well-orga­nized book expands on this ques­tion, show­ing that there are mul­ti­ple Jew­ish per­spec­tives on Chris­tian­i­ty and on oth­er reli­gions stretch­ing from the Tal­mu­dic era 2,000 years ago to the mod­ern era. 

Brill presents sev­er­al Jew­ish out­looks, includ­ing inclu­sivism, exclu­sivism, uni­ver­sal­ism, and plu­ral­ism, cit­ing numer­ous texts and thinkers. Read­ers hear from voic­es as diverse as the medieval poets Judah haLe­vi and Solomon ibn Gabirol from the Gold­en Age of Spain; the well-known com­men­ta­tor Rashi; the philoso­pher-physi­cian-the­olo­gian Moses Mai­monides; the Enlight­en­ment thinker Moses Mendelssohn; the first Israeli Chief Rab­bi Avra­ham Isaac Kook and the sev­enth Chabad rab­bi, Rab­bi Men­achem Mendel Schneer­son; and mod­ern thinkers from Rab­bi Sam­son Raphael Hirsch to Rab­bis Joseph Soloveitchik, David Hart­man, Yitz Green­berg, Sir Jonathan Sacks, and Elliot Dorff. 

Despite the notable absence of mod­ern thinkers such as Mordechai Kaplan and Eugene Borowitz, whose writ­ings about peo­ple­hood and about covenant belong in this book’s dis­cus­sion about oth­er reli­gions in the mod­ern mar­ket­place of ideas, it is excit­ing to see that this book of Jew­ish phi­los­o­phy goes beyond the frame­works of Ortho­dox, Con­ser­v­a­tive, Recon­struc­tion­ist, and Reform Judaism. This book is espe­cial­ly appro­pri­ate for stu­dents, teach­ers and pro­fes­sors of Jew­ish thought and for any read­er with a philo­soph­i­cal back­ground prepar­ing for inter­faith dia­logue. Index, notes.

Judd Kruger Lev­ingston, Ph.D. and rab­bi, serves as Direc­tor of Jew­ish Stud­ies at Jack M. Bar­rack Hebrew Acad­e­my in the Philadel­phia area. Lev­ingston is the author of Sow­ing the Seeds of Char­ac­ter: The Moral Edu­ca­tion of Ado­les­cents in Pub­lic and Pri­vate Schools (Praeger, 2009).

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