A History of Modern Jewish Religious Philosophy

Volume 1: The Period of the Enlightenment


The culmination of Eliezer Schweid’s life-work as Jewish intellectual historian, this five-volume work provides a comprehensive, interdisciplinary account of the major thinkers and movements in modern Jewish thought, in the context of general philosophy and Jewish social-political historical developments. A major theme of the work is the response of Jewish thought to the rise and crisis of Western humanism from the 17th through the 20th centuries.

Volume One, “The Period of the Enlightenment,” includes a methodological introduction to the larger work, as well as thorough presentations of Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Maimon, Ascher, Wessely, Schnaber and Krochmal. Capsule essays on Kant, Hegel, and Schelling highlight the issues they raise that would be of crucial importance for Jewish thought.

"Schweid introduces the reader to many writers and thinkers who pioneered a new approach toward Jewish
law and lore […]. This is a work which should be in every university and seminary library."
Morton J. Merowitz, Librarian and independent scholar, Buffalo, NY (AJL Reviews, Nov/Dec 2011)
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Biographical Note

Eliezer Schweid, recipient of the prestigious Israel prize (1994) as well as two honorary degrees, is Emeritus Professor of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University. He has published over 40 books on Jewish thought of all periods and contemporary topics and has commented frequently on the relevance of the legacy of Jewish thought to contemporary issues of Jewish and universal human concern.

Table of contents

Introduction: Judaism, Philosophy and Modernity
Chapter One: God and Nature in the Philosophy of Baruch Spinoza
Chapter Two: Leibnitz and Mendelssohn: Enlightened Defense of Christianity and Judaism
Chapter Three: Challenge of the Idealist Revolution in the Enlightenment: Religion and Philosophy of Immanuel Kant
Chapter Four: Philosophy Supplants Religion: The Teaching of G.W.F. Hegel
Chapter Five: The Philosophical Return to Religion and Myth - The Philosophy of F.W.J. Schelling
Chapter Six: Judaism Between Sensualism, Imagination, and Reason: The Jewish Philosophy of Religion of Solomon Maimon
Chapter Seven: Correcting Judaism by its own Criteria: Saul Ascher's Philosophy of Religion
Chapter Eight: The Appearance of Enlightened Orthodoxy in Response to Modern Philosophy - Naphtali Herz Wessely and Mordecai Gumpel Schnaber
Chapter Nine: Judaism as an Evolving National-Spiritual Culture: The Thought of R. Nachman Krochmal Based on Hegel's Dialectical Idealism


This work will be the standard reference in modern Jewish philosophy, essential for students of Judaica, general philosophy, religious thought, modern social-political history, and the crisis of humanism.


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