cover image Thinking About God: Jewish Views

Thinking About God: Jewish Views

Kari H. Tuling. Jewish Publication Society, $32.95 trade paper (440p) ISBN 978-0-827613-01-0

Rabbi Tuling analyzes a range of Jewish thought on major theological questions throughout history in her sharp debut. To explain the “many diverse, often contradictory, and entirely sophisticated ways to think about God” in the Jewish tradition, she divides the broad topic into four major categories—asking whether God is the creator of everything (including evil), whether God has a personality, whether God will redeem humanity, and whether God is a covenantal partner and lawgiver. Tuling starts with biblical takes on the issue, before reviewing how the question is addressed in liturgy, at various stages in Jewish history, and the state of current theology. For instance, when considering Jewish thinking on God’s gender, Tuling explains how both masculine and feminine nouns related to God are used in the Torah, how a view of God “as the patriarchal head of the household” has prevailed since Greco-Roman times, and how recent feminist critiques have led to changes in Reform prayer books. Not everyone will find all of the rabbi’s views persuasive; for example, she states that “what we call evil is the suffering that is either caused by natural events or is the natural outcome of our free will.” Nonetheless, Tuling does a superior job unpacking the eclectic and evolving range of Jewish beliefs about God. (Aug.)