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Professor Dov Weiss publishes study on Jewish theology of protest

8/29/2016  8:00 am

Dov Weiss, Assistant Professor of Religion, has published a new book, Pious Irreverence: Confronting God in Rabbinic Judaism, the first scholarly study of the premodern roots of the Jewish theology of protest.

Unlike Christianity and Islam, Judaism endorses a tradition of protest as first expressed in the biblical stories of Abraham, Job, and Jeremiah. In his new book, Professor Weiss argues that this particular Jewish relationship to the divine is rooted in the most canonical of rabbinic texts, while demonstrating that in ancient Judaism the idea of debating God was itself a matter of debate.

By explaining competing views and exploring their theological assumptions, the book challenges the scholarly claim that the early rabbis conceived of God as a morally perfect being whose goodness had to be defended in the face of biblical accounts of unethical divine action.

Pious Irreverence examines the ways in which the rabbis searched the words of the Torah for hidden meanings that could grant them the moral authority to express doubt about, and frustration with, the biblical God.

Marc Bregman, Bernard Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has commented on Pious Irreverence, “Dov Weiss makes a major contribution to the study of rabbinic literature and demonstrates remarkably wide expertise also in early Christian and Patristic texts, contemporary studies of Judaism and Christianity, and literary theory."

The book is available through the University of Pennsylvania Press: