Originally published in The Tablet, 2nd March 1974.
In his latest work, A Jewish Theology (Darton, Longman & Todd, £4.75), Rabbi Louis Jacobs, one of the most distinguished contemporary Jewish scholars, provides a thorough and up-to-date survey of the main themes of Jewish theology—though to say that it is a survey is by no means to suggest that it is superficial, and it will be of value to all who are engaged in theological and scriptural studies, Jew and non-Jew alike.
Rabbi Jacobs begins with an introductory chapter on the nature of Jewish theology, and then, in the 22 chapters that follow, discusses the name, nature and knowability of God, problems of religious language, God in his relation to the world, the world—and particularly the Jewish People—in relation to God, messianism and eschatology, showing en passant how these relate to or are paralleled in the theological thought of other religious traditions. The text is illustrated with quotations from the Bible and from a wide variety of other sources. The author explains his concentration on the classical—or pre-modern—Jewish writers by the fact that his book sets out “to describe the tradition and to note the reservations regarding this tradition of one Jew among the many who have grappled with this theme.” There is a comprehensive bibliography which is by no means restricted to Jewish writers, classical or otherwise.
Also from the Jewish world, slighter and more practical in its scope, comes the second edition of Myer Domnitz’s information notes, Judaism and Inter-group Relations (Board of Deputies of British Jews, 25p). It provides a great deal of useful information about Judaism and Jewish attitudes, but in view of the title one is disappointed to be left with the impression that it is all a shade too inward-looking.