How Should a Jewish Philosopher Read the Bible? Hermann Cohen’s Problem with Spinoza

How Should a Jewish Philosopher Read the Bible? Hermann Cohen’s Problem with Spinoza

Nov 28, 2022 By Shira Billet | Public Event video

When the famous German Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen died in 1918, he was described in Jewish periodicals as “the greatest philosopher the Jews have produced since Spinoza.” But in 1915, at a time when Jews had reclaimed the 17th-century philosopher as their own, Hermann Cohen had argued that the herem (ban) on Spinoza had been justified. Cohen’s reasons for banning Spinoza were different from those articulated in the original ban. He agreed with Spinoza far more than we might expect, but he also thought Spinoza’s book on the Bible was misleading and dangerous. Cohen disagreed with central parts of Spinoza’s method of reading the Bible, and for Cohen, the stakes of getting the method right were very high with academic, religious, and political implications.

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Intra-Jewish Censorship: The Case of Spinoza

Intra-Jewish Censorship: The Case of Spinoza

Nov 21, 2022 By Jonathan Ray | Public Event video

In July 1656, Baruch Spinoza was excommunicated from the Jewish community of Amsterdam for his “abominable heresies” and “monstrous deeds.” He was 23 years old. This class explore some of the key writings of Spinoza, as well as the social and political context of 17th-century Holland to try to understand the reasons behind Spinoza’s harsh, and historic, banishment.   

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Between the Lines: Choosing Hope

Between the Lines: Choosing Hope

Nov 14, 2022 By Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Public Event video

Throughout our history, Jews have traditionally responded to our trials with hope, psychologist David Arnow says, because we have had ready access to Judaism’s abundant reservoir of hope. The first book to explore the depths of this reservoir, Choosing Hope journeys from biblical times to our day to explore nine fundamental sources of hope in Judaism.

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The Danger of Spreading the Word: Book Censorship in 16th-Century Venice

The Danger of Spreading the Word: Book Censorship in 16th-Century Venice

Nov 14, 2022 By David C. Kraemer | Public Event video

In the 16th century, as the new technology of the printing press hit its stride, the church began to realize the danger that the dissemination of knowledge could represent. Instituting a regime of censorship in Venice (the center of the print industry) and elsewhere, all new books—Christian and Jewish—had to pass muster before appearing. But the church was not alone in this effort. Rabbinic authorities recognized the same dangers, and they too sought to outlaw certain “dangerous” books. 

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Persecuting Ideas: The Case of Maimonides

Persecuting Ideas: The Case of Maimonides

Nov 7, 2022 By Alan Mittleman | Public Event video

Maimonides, the greatest Jewish figure of the Middle Ages, incorporated philosophy into his work. Both during his lifetime and afterwards, especially in Europe, Maimonides’ embrace of philosophy aroused opposition. A great controversy, lasting more than a century after his death, broke out in four distinct waves. The most philosophical sections of his work were banned, as was the study of philosophy and teaching of it to youth.

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In a Human Voice: In Conversation with Psychologist Carol Gilligan

In a Human Voice: In Conversation with Psychologist Carol Gilligan

Nov 3, 2022 By The Center for Pastoral Education &nbsp | Public Event video

Psychologist Carol Gilligan revolutionized her field’s understanding of gender with her 1982 book, In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development. Her work in the field focused on the human voice and inspired and informed a feminist-oriented movement in philosophical ethics known as the ethics of care.

Rabbi Naomi Kalish is be in conversation with Professor Gilligan. The two talk about her background, reflect on the influence of her Jewish upbringing, and discuss her groundbreaking work and its implications for today, forty years later.

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(Not So) Hidden Anti-Gospels: Suppressed Talmudic and Medieval Polemics Against Jesus

(Not So) Hidden Anti-Gospels: Suppressed Talmudic and Medieval Polemics Against Jesus

Oct 31, 2022 By Eliezer B. Diamond | Public Event video

Jews always viewed Jesus as one of their own, and they felt the need to account for the power he had in converting millions to a new religion that they viewed as a perverse usurpation of their own. They responded by writing parodic versions of the Gospels narratives, which are found both in the Talmud and in an early medieval work called Toledot Yeshu (The Jesus Chronicle). Eventually Christians became aware of these “anti-Gospels” and Jews had to engage in both self-censorship and apologetics. We will look at these texts and their history, concluding with a look at a very different approach to Jesus in the 20th century by Rabbi Stephen Wise.

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Between the Lines: Inside Jewish Day Schools

Between the Lines: Inside Jewish Day Schools

Oct 27, 2022 By Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Public Event video

Part of Between the Lines: Author Conversations from The Library of JTS Dr. Jack Wertheimer, professor of American Jewish history at JTS, co-authored with Alex Pomson the new book Inside Jewish Day Schools: Leadership, Learning, and Community, which seeks to demystify Jewish day schools. His book talk addresses a number of questions: What revolutionary changes characterize current […]

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Written in Stone? Writing and Rewriting the Bible

Written in Stone? Writing and Rewriting the Bible

Oct 24, 2022 By Benjamin D. Sommer | Public Event video

Examine the way biblical scribes updated texts, sometimes replaced (and thus in a way censored) the older text, but sometimes kept the older text intact even as they added to it. In several cases, a text was updated with the intention of replacing the older one, but then the canon of the Bible ended up including the older version as well as the newer one.

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Between the Lines: The Book of Revolutions

Between the Lines: The Book of Revolutions

Sep 20, 2022 By Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary | Public Event video

This is a conversation about The Book of Revolutions: The Battles of Priests, Prophets and Kings with author Rabbi Edward Feld and JTS’s Rabbi Jan Uhrbach. In dramatic historical accounts grounded in recent Bible scholarship, Feld unveils the epic saga of ancient Israel as the visionary legacy of inspired authors in different times and places.

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The Stories that Objects Tell

The Stories that Objects Tell

Aug 22, 2022 By Barbara Mann | Public Event video

Download sourcesBibliography | The Object of Jewish Literature Book Information Part of the series, “Stories and Storytelling” With Dr. Barbara Mann, Chana Kekst Professor of Jewish Literature This session is generously sponsored by Yale Asbell, JTS Trustee ABOUT THE SERIES Join JTS scholars to explore a selection of stories drawn from across ancient, rabbinic, medieval, and modern […]

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Alexander, Was He Great? <br>Rabbinic Criticism of Rome through Alexander Narratives

Alexander, Was He Great?
Rabbinic Criticism of Rome through Alexander Narratives

Aug 15, 2022 By The Jewish Theological Seminary | Public Event video

The rabbis of late antiquity did not write books of theology or political treatises. Rather, they composed stories that would draw the heart and guide the mind to communicate those ideas and practices they deemed essential to Jewish continuity and growth after the destruction of the Second Temple. To accomplish this the sages often redesigned existing literature from the surrounding culture. In “Alexander, was he great?” Ben Levy explores the ways that the rabbis of late antiquity lampooned stories of Alexander appearing in the popular Greek Alexander Romance to criticize Roman imperialism and creatively resist their rule.

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The Protest Literature of Mizrahi Writers

The Protest Literature of Mizrahi Writers

Aug 8, 2022 By Beverly Bailis | Public Event video

Download Sources With Dr. Beverly Bailis, Adjunct Associate Professor of Jewish Literature   Dr. Bailis discusses protest literature written by different generations of Mizrahi writers and examine how these literary works give voice to these writers’ experience in Israeli society, from the Great Immigration in the 1950s to today. In particular, considering how the stories these writers […]

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A Jewish Doctor in Medieval Spain and His Demon: <br>The Book of Delight by Joseph Ibn Zabara

A Jewish Doctor in Medieval Spain and His Demon:
The Book of Delight by Joseph Ibn Zabara

Jul 25, 2022 By Raymond Scheindlin | Public Event video

Joseph, the protagonist of this proto-novel, at the urging of a mysterious companion, undertakes a journey that takes him to the land of the demons. We will read and discuss some of the stories that the travelers tell each other along the way and will attempt to unravel who the mysterious companion actually is. 

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Passion and Violence:<br>The Sacrifice of Isaac as a Philosophical Story

Passion and Violence:
The Sacrifice of Isaac as a Philosophical Story

Jul 18, 2022 By Dr. Miriam Feldmann Kaye | Public Event video

Download Sources The Sacrifice of Isaac is a paradigmatic episode in Jewish philosophy, ethics, and interpretation. But new ideas in modern and postmodern philosophy call us to re-read this narrative, and change the ways we have often read the story. We will re-tell this story according to an “old-new” method, amalgamating historical and emblematic ways […]

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How Jewish Storytelling Shapes the Religious Imagination

How Jewish Storytelling Shapes the Religious Imagination

Jul 11, 2022 By Mychal Springer | Public Event video

When we tell the story of coming out of Egypt, it is not a story of then and there; it is a story of here and now. We ourselves came out of Egypt. The eternal immediacy of the telling invites us to understand our lives inside the timelessness of Jewish experience. We will explore the drama of living in this story enriched by narrative theory that helps us understand the redemptive role that sacred stories can play in our lives.

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(FAR FROM) ALL ABOUT EVE

(FAR FROM) ALL ABOUT EVE

Jun 20, 2022 By Alan Cooper | Public Event video

the diverse ways that readers fill those gaps engender remarkably divergent interpretations. What do we learn about biblical storytelling when we confront a text that can be interpreted in diametrically opposite ways? And what do we learn about ourselves from the interpretive decisions that we make? 

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Jewish Theology in America, Today and Tomorrow

Jewish Theology in America, Today and Tomorrow

May 23, 2022 By Arnold M. Eisen | Public Event video

Professor Eisen explores recent developments in Jewish thought about God and what God requires of us as Jews and human beings against the background of past Jewish thought, recent work by non-Jewish thinkers, and Professor Eisen’s own theological reflections in the age of COVID.

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Watering the Soul in Times of Faith and Doubt

Watering the Soul in Times of Faith and Doubt

May 16, 2022 By Mychal Springer | Public Event video

together—is central to a life of faith and often plunges people into doubt. We will make space for the “watering of the soul,” both metaphorically and through exploration of the connection between resurrection and water—in the form of rain and dew. 

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Expanding the Canon: Transforming Judaism in the 21st Century

Expanding the Canon: Transforming Judaism in the 21st Century

May 15, 2022

Jewish learning has long focused on texts by an elite group of ancient rabbis. What would it mean to radically expand our canon, incorporating the voices of women, Jews of Color, people with disabilities, and other historically marginalized groups? JTS scholars will introduce new voices and also offer new lenses through which to read ancient texts. Together we will explore how diversifying our canonical texts can help us create a more inclusive Jewish community. 

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