Tra­di­tion in the Pub­lic Square: A David Novak Reade

Ran­di L. Rashkover and Mar­tin Kav­ka, eds.
  • Review
By – January 27, 2012

Part of a series, Rad­i­cal Tra­di­tions: The­ol­o­gy in a Post­crit­i­cal Key,” this com­plex schol­ar­ly col­lec­tion of essays writ­ten by Novak over more than three decades is as much a trib­ute to the genius that Novak brings from the sec­u­lar philo­soph­i­cal world and the Jew­ish schol­ar­ship field as it is an overview of his per­spec­tives on a vari­ety of issues. Con­sid­ered by many to be one of the lead­ing con­tem­po­rary Jew­ish the­olo­gians and thinkers, Novak’s essays span a wide range of top­ics. The edi­tors offer a twen­ty-page intro­duc­tion that dis­cuss­es each con­tained essay, and it is advis­able to read this care­ful­ly — and per­haps refer back to it. Those essays that are sin­gu­lar­ly philo­soph­i­cal­ly focused are par­tic­u­lar­ly com­plex, with fre­quent ref­er­ences and foot­notes con­tain­ing terms, phras­es, and even exten­sive quo­ta­tions from pri­ma­ry sources in oth­er lan­guages. A glos­sary and per­haps even some trans­la­tions of these pas­sages would have been help­ful. More acces­si­ble are Novak’s essays in the sec­ond major sec­tion of the book, par­tic­u­lar­ly those grouped togeth­er under the head­ing Case Stud­ies: Judaism and Social Ethics,” includ­ing essays on his per­spec­tives on Jew­ish views of war, abor­tion, cap­i­tal pun­ish­ment, and social­ized med­i­cine. Indices.

William Liss-Levin­son is vice pres­i­dent, chief strat­e­gy & oper­a­tions offi­cer of Cas­tle Con­nol­ly Med­ical Ltd., a con­sumer health research, infor­ma­tion, and pub­lish­ing com­pa­ny. He holds a Ph.D. in edu­ca­tion and is a mem­ber of the board of direc­tors of the Jew­ish Book Council.

Discussion Questions