Selected Topics from: S. Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology

Introductory:

Use of "Aspects" in the title:

Implies that rabbinic literature is not theological or systmatic, and does not constitute a full theology.

Response to Christian stereotypes of rabbinic Judaism:

Use of Mishnah as paradigm of rabbinic "legalism"

Schechter's refutation:

Importance of Liturgy as expression of rabbinic values and beliefs

Text is controlled by community, "orthodox".
Talmudic discussion are often freer and non-normative.

Methodological problems with using rabbinic sources

Earlier traditions are filtered through later compilations, sometimes altering their original meanings.

Problematic status of Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha

Not part of rabbinic corpus, though often given disproportionate weignt by Christian theologians as evidence of rabbinic belief.

Examples of questions about which the rabbinic attitude is ambivalent:

The Talmud cannot be equated with Jewish religion or with Judaism

The rabbis did not consciously formulate a theology.

The importance of the homiletical occasions of their statements.

Examples of Christian-like ideas on theological questions:


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