Various Theories Explaining Why the Jewish People are Special: A Response to Jerome Gellman, David Novak, and Michael Wyschogrod’s Understanding of the Chosen People

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“While reminding religious and non-religious people alike of the great contribution of the Jews to modern Western culture, the present volume searches out a hermeneutical middle ground between the materialism of race-based identity theories and the ideological excesses of narrowly conceived religious systems.”
- Craig Nichols, Ph.D.,
University of Rhode Island


“This is a work that approaches the idea/doctrine of chosenness (as in the sense of a chosen people) refracted through the prism of a “philosophical” perspective and approach (informed by a Renaissance and Reformation-era perspective). Gluck has rendered a profound and thought-provoking work that will be of service to many who think deeply.”
-John T. Greene, Professor Emeritus,
Michigan State University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Craig Nichols
Introduction: Historical and Philosophical Underpinnings
-Methodological Overview
-The Bible
-The Philosophy of the Human Reality
Methodological Individualism
The Reality of Groups
-Further Methodological Considerations
-What is (are) the Jewish People?
-The Earliest History of the Jews as Chosen
-Abrahamic Religion
-Revisiting the Nature of the Jewish People
-Refuting Misunderstandings of the Bible
-Receiving Guidance from Early Modern History
-Inevitable Differences between the Various Religions
Chapter One: Jerome Gellman’s Contemporary Doctrine of the Jews as the Chosen People
-Gellman’s Criteria
-My Critique of the Latter Criteria
-Theology vs. Philosophy
-Freedom and the Lack Thereof
-Some Loose Threads
-How My Project Differs from Gellman’s
Chapter Two: Quasi-Racial and Racist Theories
-Yehudah Halevi and The Kuzari
-The Zohar

-Franz Rosenzweig and The Star of Redemption
Blood and Spirit
The Peoples and their Native Soil
-The Problem with Racial Theories
-Is There a Relationship between Racial Self-identity and Anti-Semitism?
Chapter Three: Michale Wyschogrod and Judaism as Corporeal Election
-God in the Jewish People
-The Individual
-The Land of Israel and the Sacrifices
-Jewish Identity
-The Ultimate Centrality of the Jewish People
-The Bible
-Art and Culture
-Jewish Authenticity
-Gentile Participation and Christianity
-The Problem with the Racial Views of Wyschogrod in Particular
-Conclusion and Summary
Chapter Four: Classical Theories Involving Ideology and Belief
-Saadiah Gaon
Two Modern Interpreters of Maimonides:
Menachem Kellner and Daniel Lasker
-Problems with the Ideological Theories
Chapter Five: David Novak’s The Election of Israel
-Herman Cohen
-The Intimate Relationship between God and Israel
-My Assessment of Ideology vs. Peoplehood in Novak’s thought
-God and Theology
-Gentiles and Christianity
-Tradition and Theology -Conclusion
Chapter Six: Philosophical and Historical Accounts of the Centrality of the Jews to Western Civilization
-Karl Jaspers
-Hannah Arendt
-Barbara Tuchman
-Politics, the Bible and Natural Law
-The Historical Revolution Wrought by Judaic Thought
Democratization of Educational Ideals
The Importance of the Individual
The Importance of Inner Feelings
The Importance of Women
The Notion of Progress and the Importance of Time
The Elimination of the Enchantment of Idolatrous Spaces
The Meaning of Suffering
The Importance of Economic Prosperity
-Changes that are less Universal and Permanent
-The Inability of Man to Bridge the Gap Between Himself and God
-Only God Can Make the Decisive Changes That We Desperately Need
-More Ambiguous Changes
The Value of Actions, Work and Labor
Chapter Seven: My Theory of the Chosen People and its Grounding in the Psychological/Philosophical Concept of World-View
-Fleshing the Idea Out
-Karl Jaspers on World-Views
-The World-View of the Bible and Judaism
-Why the Views of the Particular Religions are Flawed
-Returning to My View of the Chosen People
-Back to Rosenzweig
-The Promise and the Relationship
-Concluding Comments
Appendix I: What This Study Might Tell Us About God
-The God of the Philosophers and of the Bible
-The Way of Religious Philosophy
-Karl Jaspers
-Some General Considerations Regarding Love and Reason
-Love and Reason as they Impact on Some Contemporary Problems
-Alternative Readings
Appendix II: The Conversos and Spinoza as a Special Exemplification of My Thesis
-Secularism as an Alternative Explanation
References and Bibliography
Index: General Index
Nominem Index

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