Being Jewish Today: Confronting the Real Issues

Tony Bayfield. Bloomsbury Continuum, $25 (384p) ISBN 978-1-4729-6208-9
Rabbi Bayfield (Deep Calls to Deep), a professor of Jewish theology and thought at Leo Baeck College, provides an idiosyncratic, confusing look at theological issues he’s grappled with throughout his life and career, mixed in with an unenlightened overview of Jewish thought. Aiming to challenge those who “justify the unethical in the name of God,” as well as educate readers about how Jewish thinking has evolved from biblical times to the present, Bayfield haphazardly addresses ethics within a Jewish context, as well as intractable religious issues such as suffering for those deemed innocent and arguments concerning the existence of evil in a world created by God. After very brief looks at significant moments in Jewish history, Bayfield summarizes the approaches of different Jewish philosophers and theologians—such as Maimonides, who did not regard “chosenness” as a vital element of Judaism but did view the Land of Israel as one, and Spinoza, who regarded the Torah purely as “the product of human hands”—without offering any insights that will be new to readers conversant with those figures. His choice to insert imagined dialogues with God as a literary device is distracting at best. While readers looking to understand the basics of Jewish theological thought might be educated by Bayfield’s introductory work, those interested in a more well-rounded study should look elsewhere. (Dec.)
Reviewed on : 09/19/2019
Release date: 12/17/2019
Genre: Religion
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-1-4729-8383-1
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