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Learned IgnoranceIntellectual Humility among Jews, Christians and Muslims$
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James L. Heft, Reuven Firestone, and Omid Safi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199769308

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199769308.001.0001

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Supernatural Israel

Supernatural Israel

Obstacles to Theological Humility in Jewish Tradition

Chapter:
(p.149) 8 Supernatural Israel
Source:
Learned Ignorance
Author(s):

Shira L. Lander

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199769308.003.0009

This chapter explores how certain vectors of interpretation and thought in Jewish tradition have led to a kind of pious arrogance deeply imbedded in the Jewish self-concept. Jewish theological arrogance is rooted in the central concept of peoplehood, or am yisrael. Three supernatural attributes are assigned to am yisrael: (1) eternality; (2) moral (and perhaps intellectual) superiority and authority; and (3) oneness, including indivisibility. The association of these attributes with Israel lies at the heart of Jewish self-understanding, since corporate identity is fundamental to Judaism's theological structure. The chapter first investigates the sources of these aggrandizing attributions. Second, it explores whether the attribution of these qualities to am yisrael is necessary in order for Judaism to remain coherent. Finally, it excavates resources within the tradition for a more humble understanding of am yisrael.

Keywords:   Jewish tradition, peoplehood, am yisreal, eternality, moral superiority, moral authority, oneness, indivisibility, Israel, Judaism

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