Modern Jewish Theology The First One Hundred Years, 1835–1935

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  • Samuel J. Kessler (editor)
  • George Y. Kohler (editor)
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About the Book

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December 2023

Modern Jewish Theology is the first comprehensive collection of Jewish theological ideas from the pathbreaking nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, featuring selections from more than thirty of the most influential Jewish thinkers of the era, explorations of Judaism’s identity, uniqueness, and relevance, the origin of ethical monotheism, and the possibility of Jewish existentialism. These works—most translated for the first time into English by top scholars in modern Jewish history and philosophy—reveal how modern Jewish theology developed in concert with broader trends in Jewish intellectual and social modernization, especially scholarship (Wissenschaft des Judentums), politics (liberalism and Zionism), and religious practice (movement Judaism and the struggles to transcend denominational boundaries).

This anthology thus opens to the English-language reader a true treasure house of source material from the formative years of modern Jewish thought, bringing together writings from the very first generations, who imagined biblical and rabbinic texts and modern scientific research would produce a synthetic view of God, Israel, and the world. A general introduction and chapter introductions guide students and non-specialists through the key themes and transformations in modern Jewish theology, and extensive annotations immerse them in the latest scholarship.


“Exciting! This anthology has the potential to help reframe the entire field of modern Jewish thought. Its study tends to leave out the nineteenth century almost totally—and yet, as the editors show, this was an extremely important period for the development of Jewish thought and the attempt to negotiate modern sensibilities about religion and science.” — Robert Erlewine, professor and director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Eastern Michigan University and author of Judaism and the West: From Hermann Cohen to Joseph Soloveitchik

“What a gold mine! You have before you the keys to a world of rich, provocative, and often still startlingly relevant Jewish thinking. There was a robust Jewish theological conversation before Heschel and Soloveitchik, before Kaplan and Levinas, before Plaskow and Adler, but only now, with this wonderful volume, has this vital world opened to non-specialists and non-German readers.” — Shai Held, president and dean at Hadar and author of The Heart of Torah

“Modern Jewish Theology will be an indispensable and enduring resource for scholars, students, and teachers.” — Asher D. Biemann, professor in the Department of Religious Studies, Jewish Studies Program, University of Virginia

Samuel J. Kessler

Samuel J. Kessler is an assistant professor of religion and Åke and Kristina Bonnier Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College and the author of The Formation of a Modern Rabbi: The Life and Times of the Viennese Scholar and Preacher Adolf Jellinek.

George Y. Kohler

George Y. Kohler is an associate professor in the Department of Jewish Philosophy and director of the Joseph Carlebach Institute for Jewish Theology at Bar Ilan University. He is the author of Kabbalah Research in the Wissenschaft des Judentums (1820-1880): The Foundation of an Academic Discipline and Reading Maimonides’ Philosophy in 19th Century Germany: The Guide to Religious Reform.

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