With thanks to Joseph Lam for tweeting it-
Tag Archives: James Kugel
Larry Schiffman mentioned this post on the twitter:
Last week, I attended a wonderful symposium in Yarnton Manor, Oxford on“Orthodox Judaism and Theology in the 21st Century”. I thank Miri Freud B Kandel (Oxford) and Adam Ferziger (Bar Ilan University) for all their wonderful work organizing the delightful conference which included an intimate Shabbat for the participants. I will have several blog posts about the conference. The session in which I spoke “Orthodox Judaism and the Bible” consisted of Joshua Berman “Jeremy Bentham and the Modern Perception of Contradiction in Biblical Law,” Alan Brill, Orthodoxies confront Biblical Criticism: Must Orthodox be Orthodox?, Tamar Ross, Orthodoxy and the Challenge of Biblical Criticism, and James Kugel was the respondent to our papers. The core of Berman’s paper was already posted on this blog, and I will post mine in upcoming weeks, the core conclusion of which is that: Yes, one must be Orthodox and that Louis Jacobs was Reform in his theology by the 1970’s.
Then commences the discussion with Kugel which makes up the bulk of the post. Enjoy.
Kugel’s most recent and most personal book, In the Valley of the Shadow, does not profess to be a work of scholarship, although it does reflect his deep and wide-ranging knowledge. It is, rather, the fruit of Kugel’s reflection on his state of mind when he learned that he had a serious form of cancer. He describes this state as a moment when the background music of life abruptly ceased, leaving him suddenly small and alone, surrounded by a great silence. Looking back on this moment, Kugel finds in it something of (as his subtitle puts it) “the foundations of religious belief”: a sense of stark confrontation with the divine.
There’s much more. It’s fascinating how the words ‘you have cancer’ change people. It’s bizarre as to why, unless we somehow or other think we’re going to live in this world forever. Or maybe we just never believe that we will die.