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Knowledge, Belief, and GodNew Insights in Religious Epistemology$
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Matthew A. Benton, John Hawthorne, and Dani Rabinowitz

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198798705

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198798705.001.0001

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Knowledge and the Cathartic Value of Repentance

Knowledge and the Cathartic Value of Repentance

Chapter:
(p.78) 4 Knowledge and the Cathartic Value of Repentance
Source:
Knowledge, Belief, and God
Author(s):
Dani Rabinowitz
Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198798705.003.0005

An austere form of legalism lies at the heart of Judaism. Apart from a limited set of exceptions, every adult Jew is required to observe the full gamut of relevant biblical and rabbinic laws. Success in this endeavor is handsomely rewarded and failure severely punished. Despite the apparent bleakness of this legalism, the system licenses a divine pardon in cases where the offending individual repents. This chapter opens with a discussion of this clemency, as understood by Moses Maimonides, before moving on to a reading of a Talmudic debate that introduces an epistemic puzzle regarding repentance. With the epistemic contours of repentance thus exposed, the remainder of the chapter deals with the manner in which Timothy Williamson’s work on knowledge can undermine the cathartic value of repentance. The chapter concludes with a short note marking the implications for Christianity and Islam.

Keywords:   legalism, repentance, atonement, Maimonides, Timothy Williamson, knowledge

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