The Bible is an enduring source of inspiration for the human heart and mind, and readers of Thinking about the Torah will be rewarded with an enhanced understanding of this great work’s deeper meanings. Drawing on Western philosophy and particularly Jewish philosophy, Kenneth Seeskin delves into ten core biblical verses and the powerful ideas that emerge from them. He speaks to readers on every page and invites conversation about topics central to human existence: how finite beings can relate to the infinite, what love is, the role of ethics in religion, and the meaning of holiness.
Seeskin raises questions we all ask and responds to them with curiosity and compassion, weaving into his own perceptive commentary insights from great Jewish thinkers such as Maimonides, Spinoza, Buber, Rosenzweig, and Levinas, as well as Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Luther, Kant, and Kierkegaard.
The Bible is concerned with how we think as well as how we follow the commandments, rituals, and customs. Seeskin inspires us to read the Torah with an open mind and think about the lessons it teaches us.
Kenneth Seeskin is Philip M. and Ethel Klutznick Professor of Jewish Civilization at Northwestern University. He is the author of several books, including Searching for a Distant God: The Legacy of Maimonides, winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award, and is the coeditor of The Cambridge Guide to Jewish History, Culture, and Religion, winner of the National Jewish Book Award.
“Seeskin writes beautifully. He is a master teacher, and hence his book has a directness and simplicity about it that is captivating, and even stunning at times.”—Michael L. Morgan, coeditor of The Cambridge Companion to Modern Jewish Philosophy
“Not only will readers come away with enhanced understanding of and appreciation for key passages in the Torah but along the way they will be introduced to Plato, Aristotle, Maimonides, Spinoza, Kant, Kierkegaard, Cohen, Rosenzweig, Buber, and Levinas . . . [whose words are] made accessible and important for our contemporary understanding of the Torah.”—Menachem Kellner, chair of the Department of Philosophy and Jewish Thought at Shalem College in Jerusalem and author of Must a Jew Believe Anything?
Table of Contents
Preface: A Philosopher’s Plea Acknowledgments 1. How to Read the Torah 2. God and Creation: Genesis 1:6 3. Love and Companionship: Genesis 2:18 4. The Ultimate Sacrifice: Genesis 22:2 5. The Name of God: Exodus 3:14 6. The Need for Community: Exodus 25:8 7. Closeness to God: Exodus 33:20 8. Ethics and Holiness: Leviticus 11:44 9. Rebellion and Sin: Numbers 14:1–2 10. Love of God: Deuteronomy 6:5 Conclusion: Choose Life: Deuteronomy 30:19 Notes Glossary of Historical Names Bibliography