About the Book
2021 Winner, The Academy of Parish Clergy’s Top 5 List of Reference Books for clergy
The most comprehensive book on the topic, Thinking about Good and Evil traces the most salient Jewish ideas about why innocent people seem to suffer, why evil individuals seem to prosper, and God’s role in such matters of (in)justice, from antiquity to the present.
Starting with the Bible and Apocrypha, Rabbi Wayne Allen takes us through the Talmud; medieval Jewish philosophers and Jewish mystical sources; the Ba’al Shem Tov and his disciples; early modern thinkers such as Spinoza, Mendelssohn, and Luzzatto; and, finally, modern thinkers such as Cohen, Buber, Kaplan, and Plaskow. Each chapter analyzes individual thinkers’ arguments and synthesizes their collective ideas on the nature of good and evil and questions of justice. Allen also exposes vastly divergent Jewish thinking about the Holocaust: traditionalist (e.g., Ehrenreich), revisionist (e.g., Rubinstein, Jonas), and deflective (e.g., Soloveitchik, Wiesel).
The conclusion includes Jewish answers as to why there is evil in the world and why human beings suffer, summarizing this engaging, accessible volume, which illuminates well-known, obscure, and novel Jewish solutions to the problem of good and evil.
“Illuminating analysis. . . . Allen produces a nuanced, vital exploration. . . . Allen’s work as a congregational rabbi enables him to imbue this sophisticated yet accessible guide with heartfelt emotion. This remarkable guide will be of interest to any Jewish reader contemplating God’s role in suffering.”—Publishers Weekly