Jewish Intellectual History: 16th to 20th Century

Narrated by: David B. Ruderman
Length: 12 hrs and 19 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (72 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Over the last four centuries, a small group of thinkers attempted to answer a series of remarkably challenging questions: In a world having a history of untold suffering - especially, it seemed, for Jews - was the existence of an all-powerful and comforting God still tenable? What were the purpose and meaning of Jewish practices and customs? Could Jews still justify the notion of a chosen people in a social climate in which Jewish integration and full participation with the rest of humanity had become the norm?

Although their approaches and solutions differed, most thinkers shared a common goal: to provide a continuing sense of faith, meaning, and identity for their fellow Jews. Through these 24 necessary lectures, you observe the time-honored intellectual tradition through which Judaism analyzes, rethinks, and reformulates itself. This process of preserving its essential character while still trying to accommodate itself to the modern world has kept Judaism a vital and vibrant, rather than static, religion.

Professor Ruderman introduces you to a new and rich body of thinkers and thinking - particularly the prominent philosopher Benedict (Baruch) Spinoza. This course considers modern Jewish thought largely in terms of two issues: the response to Spinoza and his attack on the very viability of Judaism, and the shift in the standard by which Jews defined themselves and their faith. In the modern age, it became the non-Jewish world.

With these two issues in mind, you'll consider the various thinkers according to three approaches: insiders, outsiders, and rejectionists. In Professor Ruderman's estimation, Jewish thinking is a widespread and necessary part of Jewish life, an effort to find meaning and hope in an uncertain world.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2002 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2002 The Great Courses

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A Gem! Best treatment of material I've ever read.

If you could sum up Jewish Intellectual History: 16th to 20th Century in three words, what would they be?

Insightful, deep, engagingly delivered.

Any additional comments?

I'm passing this book on to everyone I know who would be interested. They keep thanking me for turning them in to it. Its eye opening. Much praise to the author and lecturer.

7 people found this helpful

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thought provoking and informative

Rabbi David Ruderman discusses Jewish thought, the context and how it influenced the philosophers, and the impact of their philosophy. He brings the people and their struggles to life,, and interpreting their meaning in their time and ours. worth a second and third listen. recommend his other course on earlier Jewish thinking as well.

3 people found this helpful

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partial Jewish Intelectual History

Every single lecture brought new insights from new vantage points of different theologians and philosophers. The lectures were rich in the sense that new and deep ideas were brought, keeping a high academic level though simple enough for someone who hasn't learned Judaism before.
The drawback is that there is a list of some crutial figures in Jewish thought that weren't reminded or didn't receive the attention they deserve. this list includes Yosef Karo, HaAri, Baal Shem Tov, Hagaon MeVilna, Ramhal, Harav Kook, The Ravi MeLubabich and Harav Soloveichik. Furthermore, there was no mention of the intelectual history of the Jews living in the Muslim diaspora which could be sumerized by taking about Harav Ovadia Yosef.

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Dry, Hard to Follow in Audio Only Format

I was hoping for more on the ground-breaking contributions of great Jewish thinkers. Instead, this comes as more of a timeline of the development of Jewish philosophers. I found it a bit dry. Occasionally there is an interesting nugget but mostly it's about an individuals core belief, then 50 years later and guy comes along and goes in a different direction.

I wanted more depth on great Rabbinical thinking. Even Spinoza isn't handled with much depth. I'll come back to this someday. Maybe it's not the right time.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 04-15-18

Recommend

A great academic introduction to Judaism during this period. Thoroughly enjoyed, diversity tackled well for an introductory course. Ruderman (superman according to predictive text) is clear and easy to listen to, this course was a pleasure to listen yp .

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  • Stan
  • 07-21-16

Incomplete picture?

I start by saying that I am an atheist secular Jew with little depth of knowledge of things Jewish. I was lost at times but that reflects my small base of knowledge

I expected some acknowledgement and discussion of the Chassidic movement and what was its contribution to Jewish intellectual history. As far as I could tell, that is ignored even to the extent of saying they would not be considered. That seems a huge gap to me as, even today, it fuels a vibrant stream of Jewish activity albeit a narrow stream.

Every lecturer in a series such as this must make choices of inclusion and exclusion - I understand that.

1 person found this helpful