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.
Tradition in the Public Square: A David Novak Reade
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.
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