Selected Topics from: S. Schechter, Aspects of Rabbinic Theology
God and the World:
Responding to erroneous stereotype of Jewish "transcendent" God.
List of rabbinic epithets for God.
Cf. Urbach's discussions of:
Shekhinah = God's presence in the world.
"Place" (Maqom) = expression of God's omnipresence and nearness.
"Heaven" = expresses transcendence, farness and withdrawal from humanity.
= expression of God's absolute power.
Implications of "father" imagery.
Significance of logos and memra terminology Problem of evaluating Philo and Targums as records of rabbinic belief.
Are these meatphors and circumlocutions (to avoid speaking of God to concretely), or real theological concepts?
God is known through his manifestations in Israelite history.
Intimate identification of rabbinic Judaism with the personalities and events of the Bible.
Immanence of God thorughout the world.
Epithets that speak of God in relation to the world:
of the world(s)
Do these express a pantheistic view?
Sources that emphasize God's transcendence-- above the world. Especially in mystical and esoteric traditions: "The work of the Chariot [Merkavah]"
The great paradox: God is both transcendent and immanent.
God's personality traits:
e.g., greatness and humility
God's distance from the world as a consequence of human sin.
The different names of God as expressions of particular forms of God's interactions with the world.
They are not separate hypostases.
Explaining passages in which the rabbis seem to deny God's immanence
These are overstated responses of "heretical" confusions of the divine and human realms (e.g.. deification of humans by Roman emperors, Christians)..
Philo's allegorical method of interpreting Scripture: opposed by rabbis as a threat to literal observance of the commandments.
Insistence that prayers are always addressed directly to God, not to angels or other intermediaries.