Midrash as a Refracting Lens: A.J. Heschel's Illumination of Jewish History
medieval jewish philosophy
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AbstractA.J. Heschel’s Torah Min Ha-Shamayyim BeAspaqlaria Shel Ha-Doroth (TMS) never received the comprehensive scholarly attention that it deserves. Its philosophical and theological emphasis was out of place in the oeuvre in which it was published. Decades later it resurged in popularity, but by and large not amongst those with the textual and philological grounding in rabbinics to assess it meaningfully. TMS stands as a compelling analysis of early-rabbinic theological trends and the historical ramifications therein. I pay careful attention to Heschel’s sources and other experts in the field. I demonstrate that there is a decisive difference in philosophical outlook that can be traced between the schools of Rabbis Aqiva and Ishmael respectively, just as Heschel argues. Likewise, the theological dichotomies which Heschel articulates between these two textual personalities and their schools is shown to inform later permutations of these tensions throughout the Jewish History of Ideas.
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