Toleration within Judaism

By Martin Goodman, Joseph E. David, Corinna R. Kaiser, Simon Levis Sullam

The Bible itself calls the Jewish people 'a company of nations,' suggesting that differences within Judaism is not a new phenomenon. It has continued throughout Jewish history, and this book investigates how and why such differences have been tolerated. Drawing on examples from different geographical areas and from ancient times to the present, the book considers why Jews sometimes attempt to impose constraints on other Jews or relate to them as if they were not Jews at all, but at other times recognize differences of practice and belief and develop ways of handling them. In doing so, they provide an insight into a history of Judaism as a complex web of interactions between groups of Jews despite grounds for mutual antagonism. Substantial introductory chapters lay out the issues and provide an extensive survey of cases of toleration within Judaism over the past 2,000 years, outlining possible structural reasons for them. Each of the eight chapters that follow takes a specific case, attempting to explain it in light of the models outlined in the Introduction. Presented in chronological order, these examples have been selected to reflect a spectrum of responses, from grudging forbearance to enthusiastic welcome of difference. Covering both practice and theology, each case is presented in depth with full documentation. The Conclusion provides an overview of the patterns of tolerance that have emerged and discusses the implications for writing the history of Judaism as a narrative more complex than either a linear progression from the Bible to the present, with variations presented as deviations, or as a model of overlapping 'Judaisms.' This innovative book sheds light on an important and overlooked aspect of the history of Judaism and will have broad appeal, not only for students and scholars of Judaism, but for students of religious studies more generally. *** "This well written and excellent book is recommended." - David B. Levy, Association of Jewish Libraries Reviews, November/December 2013


246 pages

Publication Date: 5/30/2013
Format: Cloth
ISBN: 9781906764173