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Responses to Suffering in Classical Rabbinic Literature [Hardcover]

By David Kraemer (Author)
Our Price $ 120.00  
Retail Value $ 125.00  
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Item Number 160311  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   288
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.18" Width: 6.25" Height: 0.96"
Weight:   1.44 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 1995
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0195089006  
EAN  9780195089004  


Availability  81 units.
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Item Description...
The existence of suffering poses an obvious problem for the monotheistic religions. Why does an all-powerful, benevolent God allow humans to suffer? And given that God does, what is the appropriate human response? In modern times Jewish theologians in particular, faced with the enormity of the Holocaust, have struggled to come to grips with these issues. In Responses to Suffering, David Kraemer offers the first comprehensive history of teachings related to suffering in classical rabbinic literature. Beginning with the Mishnah (c. 200 CE), Kraemer examines traditions on suffering, divine justice, national catastrophe, and the like, in all major rabbinic works of late antiquity. Bringing to bear recent methods in the history of religions, literary criticism, canonical criticism, and the sociology of religion, Kraemer offers a rich analysis of the development of attitudes that are central to and remain contemporary concerns of any religious society.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
History of Thought, But What Does It Mean?  Nov 6, 2002
David Kraemer takes a historical approach to classical rabbinic responses to the problem of suffering (i.e., if God is omniscient, omnipotent and just, why do the good suffer?), reviewing their development through time, and comparing pre-rabbinic thinking in the Bible and in other sources. He approaches the classical rabbinic works as historical literary documents bound up in the social contexts of their times. Among other things, this means that he attempts to understand statements in a 5th Century document (for example) within the 5th Century historical setting, even though particular statements in that document may be attributed to rabbis of other centuries.

Kraemer provides a clear and careful reading of the texts he has chosen to review, from the Bible through the Mishnah, the Halakhic and Aggadic Midrashim and the two Talmuds. Somewhat oddly, to my mind, he does not discuss Lamentations in his review of Biblical literature on suffering, even though responses to the destruction of the Temple are a significant source of the rabbinic literature on suffering that he discusses. (For an excellent discussion of Lamentations and subsequent literature on it, see Tod Linafelt's "Surviving Lamentations.") Kraemer covers a lot of ground, however, and succeeds in tracing a broadening out of the allowable responses to suffering recognized in rabbinic literature. Where I felt the book fell short was in drawing any conclusions beyond this very general historical trend. For example, Kraemer demonstrates that the Bavli allows for a rejection of suffering and a questioning of God's judgment, but says nothing about what this might mean for the rabbis' theology or for their own legislative and judicial projects.

If you are simply looking for a review of the classical rabbinic literature on the subject of suffering, this is a superb book, readily accessible to non-scholars and highly recommended.

 

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