Originally published in A.J.A. Quarterly, 3:2 (1957), pp. 39-40.
We have Reason to Believe. By Rabbi Louis Jacobs. Vallentine Mitchell. 15s.
Rabbi Louis Jacobs has both the courage and the knowledge to answer the most perplexing problems which a persistent, rationalist questioner would find to be the chief contemporary barriers towards realising that most precious of all life’s treasures—a firm religious faith. He is a young man and understands the doubt which this generation and its scientific method of thinking form as obstacles to the acceptance of Judaism as a living religion. Rabbi Jacobs does not evade any question, no matter how many theological pitfalls surround it. Starting with the foundation of faith, he discusses the meaning and proof of God’s existence. He deals trenchantly with the problem posed by Sigmund Freud as to whether Religious faith is an illusion. The problems of pain, Biblical criticism, the practice of Torah for to-day, miracles, and the After-Life, are only a few of the Goliaths which Rabbi Jacobs meets on their own ground of Rationalism; and which he defeats through reference to Jewish tradition and his own resources as a thinker.
In a short review it would be impossible to perform real justice to this book without outlining its arguments. Space does not permit this, but one can have complete confidence in claiming it as an important work in the struggle to reconcile problems of belief in this age of popular scepticism. The student, the educated layman, the devout Jew, and the professional theologian will all welcome the first major incursion into print by this distinguished young Rabbi who combines traditional scholarship with modern thought and religious integrity. Now that Dr. Jacobs has destroyed some stumbling blocks on the path of religious progress, we look forward to his next work when he may construct the themes from Jewish thought most relevant to the religious vacuum of our times.
Alan J. L. Jacobs