A History of Modern Jewish Religious Philosophy

Volume II: The Birth of Jewish Historical Studies and the Modern Jewish Religious Movements


The culmination of Eliezer Schweid’s life-work as a 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, with extensive primary source excerpts.

Volume Two, "The Birth of the Jewish Historical Studies and the Modern Jewish Religious Movements," discusses the major Jewish thinkers of central and eastern Europe before 1881, in connection with the movements they fostered: German-Jewish Wissenschaft (Zunz), Reform (Formstecher, Samuel Hirsch, Geiger), Neo-Orthodoxy (S. D. Luzzatto, Steinheim, Samson Raphael Hirsch), Positive-Historical (Frankel, Graetz), and Neo-Haredi (Kalischer, Malbim, Hayyim Volozhiner, Salanter). In addition, extensive attention is given to the thinkers of the east-European Haskalah, both earlier (Levinsohn, Rubin, Schorr, Mieses, Abraham Krochmal) and later proto-Zionist thinkers (Zweifel, Smolenskin, Pines, Lilienblum).

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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.

Leonard Levin (translator-annotator) has taught Jewish philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary and the Academy for Jewish Religion in New York.
Chapter One: The Philosophical Foundation for Jewish Studies
The Association (Verein) for the Culture and Scientific Study of Jewry
Eduard Gans
Immanuel Wolf
Leopold Zunz
Chapter Two: The Science of History, Philosophy of History, and Reestablishing Judaism as the Religion of Reason (vis-à-vis Secular Humanism and Christianity)
Historical Development
Judaism as “Religion of Spirit”: The Teaching of Solomon Formstecher
Judaism as Ethical-Religious Commitment: The Teaching of Samuel Hirsch
Reform in the Mode of “Religious Feeling”: The Influence of Friedrich Schleiermacher on Abraham Geiger
Chapter Three: The Political Philosophy of the National Haskalah Movement in Eastern Europe
Adapting the Doctrine of Interfaith Tolerance in the Secular State: The Teaching of R. Isaac Baer Levinsohn
The Attack on the Rabbinic Establishment: Spinoza’s Influence on the Radical Hebrew Haskalah
Chapter Four: Revealed Torah and Kant’s Critical Idealism
Introductory Remarks
The Dialogue between R. Judah Halevi’s Teaching and the Critical Philosophy of Locke and Kant in the Thought of Samuel David Luzzatto
Revelation and the Critique of Reason: The Philosophy of Salomon Ludwig Steinheim
Discovering the Inner Light of Torah: The Teaching of Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch
Chapter Five: Adaptation and Growth of the Inner Space of Torah in Response to Humanism
Ultra-Orthodox Nationalism in Response to Reform: Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer
Systematic Grounding and Enrichment of Orthodoxy in Response to Humanism: The Teaching of the Malbim
Developing the Halakhic Alternative to Hasidism and Haskalah: The Students of the Vilna Gaon
Chapter Six: The Torah and the People: “Positive Historical” Judaism
The General Social and Philosophical-Historical Background of the Conservative Movement: The Influence of Herder and Savigny
Adapting Halakha to the Needs and Will of the People: Zechariah Frankel’s Doctrine
Divine Providence and Ethical Mission in Jewish History: The Teaching of Heinrich Graetz
Chapter Seven: The Drive for Unity in the East-European Haskalah and the Turn to Zionism
Defense of Hasidism and Halakha from a Maskilic Point of View: The Peace Making of Eliezer Zweifel
Relation of Religion and Nation in Judaism and the Way to Spiritual Zionism: The Peregrinations of Peretz Smolenskin’s Thought
The Dawn of Religious Nationalism: Jehiel Michal Pines
From “Spiritual Nationality” to Secular “Natural Nationality”: Exacerbating the Controversy in the Teaching of Moses Leib Lilienblum
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