God, Man and History represents the first volume in a series of reissues of the works of Eliezer Berkovits, published by Shalem Press under the aegis of the Eliezer Berkovits Institute of Jewish Thought at the Shalem Center.
Of all of Berkovits’ work, God, Man and History may be regarded as the keystone. It examines the underpinnings of Judaism as a whole, from theology to law to the meaning of Jewish nationhood. In writing God, Man and History, Berkovits undertook not merely a meditation on, nor an exploration of, a specific facet of the Jewish religion. Instead, he sought to offer a comprehensive construction of Judaism.This construction begins with first principles and then proceeds, on the basis of arguments grounded in the classical Jewish sources, to examine the foundations of the major spheres of Judaism, while at the same time placing itself in the contradistinction to the central themes of modern thought. For this reason alone, it is worthy of being placed among the most important works of Jewish philosophy in the twentieth century.
Born in 1908 in Romania, Berkovits was educated in Berlin before he was forced to flee Germany in the late 1930s. After serving in rabbinates in England, Australia and Boston, he joined the faculty of Hebrew Theological College in Chicago in 1958. Although he wrote 19 books and numerous articles, his name is less familiar today than some of his contemporaries like Martin Buber or Abraham Joshua Heschel. Perhaps the republication of this, his "keystone" work, will attract more attention to the Jewish philosopher, who died in 1992. "In contrast to other twentieth-century thinkers, who employed the classic Jewish sources to defend a modernist outlook
. Berkovits's work offers an argument for the independence and validity of a traditional Jewish worldview in a style more reminiscent of Judah Halevi, Maimonides, and Sa'adia Gaon," writes Hazony, a Ph.D. candidate at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. As Hazony notes, Berkovits's writing is challenging and methodical, but intellectually rewarding.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.