Review Essay: Perspectives on Avoda Zara [Review of ‘Same God, other God: Judaism, Hinduism, and the problem of idolatry’, by Alon Goshen-Gottstein.
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This is an extraordinary book. It addresses an issue at the very core of Judaism with wide learning, ethical sensitivity, passion, and sharp, often deep insights. I am persuaded, as we shall see, by some of those insights. In a number of instances of fundamental importance, I am not in agreement, but even with respect to those matters, I am tempted to say what James I of Aragon is reported to have told Nahmanides at the end of the Barcelona disputation: “I have never seen anyone who was incorrect who argued his case as well as you.” ¶ In the first substantive paragraph, the author writes, “The book seeks to engage two interrelated questions—the status of Hinduism as idolatry, Avoda Zara in Hebrew, and a conceptual revisiting of the very category of Avoda Zara, with Hinduism as its test case or, if you will, its dialogue partner” (1). While I will make some observations about the key question regarding Hinduism, my primary concern—and only relevant area of expertise—is the author’s examination of avoda zara writ large as well as its historic application to religions other than Hinduism, most notably Christianity, which he discusses at length as the most meaningful and relevant paradigm. (from Introduction)
Berger, B. (2019, Spring).Review Essay: Perspectives on Avoda Zara [Review of ‘Same God, other God: Judaism, Hinduism, and the problem of idolatry’, by Alon Goshen-Gottstein.] Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought,51(2), 106-115.
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