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Edited by Elena Namli, Jayne Svenungsson and Alana M. Vincent

In response to the grim realities of the present world Jewish thought has not tended to retreat into eschatological fantasy, but rather to project utopian visions precisely on to the present moment, envisioning redemptions that are concrete, immanent, and necessarily political in nature. In difficult times and through shifting historical contexts, the messianic hope in the Jewish tradition has functioned as a political vision: the dream of a peaceful kingdom, of a country to return to, or of a leader who will administer justice among the nations. Against this background, it is unsurprising that Jewish messianism in modern times has been transposed, and lives on in secular political movements and ideologies.
The purpose of this book is to contribute to the deeper understanding of the relationship between Jewish thought, utopia, and revolution, by taking a fresh look at its historical and religious roots. We approach the issue from several perspectives, with differences of opinion presented both in regard to what Jewish tradition is, and how to regard utopia and revolution. These notions are multifaceted, comprising aspects such as political messianism, religious renewal, Zionism, and different forms of Marxist and Anarchistic movements.
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Tradition vs. Traditionalism

Contemporary Perspectives in Jewish Thought

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Avi Sagi

This book is a first attempt to examine the thought of key contemporary Jewish thinkers on the meaning of tradition in the context of two models. The classic model assumes that tradition reflects lack of dynamism and reflectiveness, and the present’s unqualified submission to the past. This view, however, is an image that the modernist ethos has ascribed to the tradition so as to remove it from modern existence. In the alternative model, a living tradition emerges as open and dynamic, developing through an ongoing dialogue between present and past.
The Jewish philosophers discussed in this work—Joseph B. Soloveitchik, Yeshayahu Leibowitz, David Hartman, and Eliezer Goldman—ascribe compelling canonic status to the tradition, and the analysis of their thought discloses the tension between these two models. The book carefully traces the course they have plotted along the various interpretations of tradition through their approach to Scripture and to Halakhah.