JEWISH SPIRITUALITY: A Brief Introduction for Christians

Lawrence Kushner, Author . Jewish Lights $12.95 (120p) ISBN 978-1-58023-150-3

As the dust-jacket blurbs from Peter Gomes and Joan Chittister suggest, Rabbi Kushner's explorations of Jewish mysticism and spirituality have long attracted Christian readers. At last, he has written a book designed especially for Christians. However, it's not quite clear how this book's content differs from Kushner's other volumes (Honey from the Rock; Invisible Lines of Connection). Much of the content—the midrash about Reuven and Shimon crossing the Red Sea, for example, or the discussion of Torah as a "blueprint for creation"—will be familiar to Kushner fans; they are among his favorite motifs. The afterword does explain some of the differences between Judaism and Christianity: Kushner sketches a distinction between Jewish Torah and Christian nomos; he reminds readers that Judaism has no incarnate God; and he explains that Judaism is not a proselytizing religion. Christian readers may find some sections of this afterword illuminating, but they may take issue with other passages, such as Kushner's insistence that Judaism is this-worldly and Christianity is other-worldly. This short book is in many ways classic Kushner: the writing is felicitous, the spiritual insights often profound and the rendering of complicated kabbalistic ideas into simple prose (intelligible not only to Christians but also to Jews not steeped in Jewish text) praiseworthy. The book's flaw is also that it is too much classic Kushner—a promising project that recycles old ideas for a new, ecumenical audience. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 09/10/2001
Release date: 08/01/2001
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