The Love of God eBook ´ The Love eBook ð

The Love of God ☂ [PDF / Epub] ☁ The Love of God By Jon D. Levenson ✐ – The love of God is perhaps the most essential element in Judaism—but also one of the most confounding In biblical and rabbinic literature the obligation to love God appears as a formal commandment Y The love of God is perhaps the most essential element in Judaism—but also one of the The Love eBook ð most confounding In biblical and rabbinic literature the obligation to love God appears as a formal commandment Yet most people today think of love as a feeling How can an emotion be commanded How could one ever fulfill such a reuirement The Love of God places these scholarly and existential uestions in a new lightJon Levenson traces the origins of the concept to the ancient institution of covenant showing how covenantal love is a matter neither of sentiment nor of dry legalism The Love of God is instead a deeply personal two way relationship that finds expression in God’s mysterious love for the people of Israel who in turn observe God’s laws out of profound gratitude for his acts of deliverance Levenson explores how this bond has survived episodes in which God’s love appears to be painfully absent—as in the brutal persecutions of Talmudic times—and describes the intensely erotic portrayals of the relationship by biblical prophets and rabbinic interpreters of the Song of Songs He examines The Love of God as a spiritual discipline in the Middle Ages as well as efforts by two influential modern Jewish thinkers—Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig—to recover this vital but endangered aspect of their traditionA breathtaking work of scholarship and spirituality alike that is certain to provoke debate The Love of God develops fascinating insights into the foundations of religious life in the classical Jewish tradition.

7 thoughts on “The Love of God

  1. robin friedman robin friedman says:

    Love MeWhat is the nature of the love of God in Judaism? Does the love flow in both directions or does it flow only from humans to God? Jon Levenson the Albert A List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University explores a multitude of related understandings of the love of God in his new book The Love of God Divine Gift Human Gratitude and Mutual Faithfulness in Judaism 2015 The book is relatively short but it is learned and densely written It is a book that must be pondered and studied The book is scholarly but Levenson writes to convince He wants to show the reader that there is deep value to the Jewish understanding of the love of God and to encourage a sense of religious awarenessLevenson argues that the love of God is perhaps the most essential part of Judaism but that it remains little studied and understood The commandment to love God is at the heart of the Shema the most important prayer in Judaism with a text that derives from the Torah Levenson explores love of God in Judaism in five distinct periods 1 the Torah; 2 the Talmudic commentators; 3 the Prophets; 4 the medieval Jewish philosophers; 5 the modern day with an emphasis on Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig two twentieth century Jewish philosophers who knew one another and who engaged in discussion about Jewish life It is worth noting that chronologically nos 2 and 3 in Levenson's presentation are reversed Levenson finds a great deal of difference in the understanding of the love of God as developed over the centuries He also finds a strong degree of continuityPerhaps the most important of Levenson's insights occurs early in the book when he emphasizes that the modern concept of love which focuses on individuality free choice and feeling is not the understanding of the early Jewish Bible The critical locus of love in the Torah is between God and the people Israel The love is mutual but asymmetrical and not based upon a relationship of euals Levenson uses as a model documents setting forth the relationship between vassals and their human lords in the time period roughly contemporaneous with the writing of the Torah The parties assumed duties to one another and pledged love and faithfulness The Torah projects and radically expands this early earthly feudal relationship into the relationship between God and Israel This is a love that can be commanded unlike the current human variety of love And in the Torah covenant it was everlasting Besides drawing on ancient middle Eastern texts Levenson examines closely passages in the Book of Deuteronomy on the Covenant and the reciprocal obligations of loveIn the second chapter Levenson shows how the Rabbis during the Talmudic period expanded and subtly changed their understanding of the Covenant and of love in part under the influence of Greek philosophy The Rabbis tended to separate the soul and the body explicitly than did the Torah and to emphasize a teaching of eternal life The duty to love God with all one's heart all one's soul and all one's might became the most central of Jewish duties and was linked to the ResurrectionLevenson turns to the Biblical Prophets for an expansion of the Torah's concept of love of God to include a strong and growing erotic element He offers a close reading of the Book of Hosea which I found most insightful This is followed by a discussion of other writings in which love of God is analogized in different ways to human loves including the Books of Ezekiel Jeremiah and the Song of SongsThe fourth chapter of the book examines Jewish understanding of the love of God in the middle ages under the influence of both Greek and Islamic philosophy For me the most compelling section of this book was the discussion of the Sufi Neo platonically influenced Duties of the Heart by Bahya ibn Pauda This was an early spiritual manual that taught how to become close to and how to love God Levenson discusses this work in detail and if I am not mistaken leaves much of his own heart with it Subseuent portions of this chapter discuss whether God can be said to love or whether love is exclusively directed to God by people The competing views of Moses Maimonides and Hasdai Crescas are discussed Levenson's sympathies lean toward the latter thinker who argued that God could properly show passion and loveThe final section of the book is somewhat short and rushed with its focus on only Buber and Rosenzweig Levenson argues that while they differ about the role of Law Buber and Rosenzweig agree that ideally what lies behind any valid observance is the voice of a personal loving God and not simply a moral ideal a natural process a human need to identify ethnically or any other modernistic substitute for the living and loving God of the ancient sources Levenson finds inadeuacies in both Buber and Rosenzweig He encourages readers to engage with the sources he has discussed and to recognize that to acknowledge and respond to that highest reality does not reuire one to deny the lover ones; it reuires only that one recognize they are all rendering something something that can be apprehended even if never grasped This conclusion may be found in the Jewish sources Levenson considers but it goes beyond them as well to other religions and approaches to God The reader is encouraged to explore the ancient Torah commandment Love MeIt is valuable to see both the continuity and the differences in the understanding of the love of God that has been developed in Judaism Levenson's book has an excellent historical sense as he repeatedly and insightfully warns his readers not to confuse contemporary individualisms or facile answers with the highly different concepts found in earlier sources This thoughtful book can be read with benefit by serious readers interested in the religious life regardless of whether the reader is Jewish a practitioner of another religion or non religiousRobin Friedman

  2. Matthew Colvin Matthew Colvin says:

    Very enjoyable Levenson deals with the concept of the love of God and its relation to Torah He investigates this idea in the ANE suzerainty treaties that are the cultural background of the Biblical language of covenant; in the idea of mitzvah and martyrdom as articulated by the Tannaim and Amoraim; in the erotic imagery of the prophets Hosea and Ezekiel and in the Song of Songs; in the thought of medieval Jewish thinkers like Bahya and Maimonides; and in the debate between Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig There are many splendid explanations and delightful clarifications At times I wished that Levenson had devoted his entire book to discussing features of language about love in the Hebrew Bible that have been lost to readers of English translations Levenson has little patience with Maimonides’ Hellenic embrace of impassibility and accompanying denial that God has emotions I agree with Levenson on this point against those who continue to worship Aristotle’s idol and falsely call it the God of Abraham I only wish Levenson could have brought himself to confront the love of God as it is manifested in Jesus of Nazareth and experienced lived and explained by Saul of Tarsus But that would have been difficult for him

  3. Jon Beadle Jon Beadle says:

    Levenson is one of the greats

  4. Mich Mich says:

    This book analyzes the Love of God in both of its literal directions love of God by Israel and love of Israel by God Jon Levenson examines the commandment You will love your God with all your heart with all your soul and with all your might from the point of view of what it means to command love Ancient sources describe relationships between suzerainty and vassals Biblical Rabbinic and modern writings Buber and Rosenzweig are discussed The idea of closely following ritual observances as means to attain closeness to God is the main theme as to what love of God means The writing is clear and easy to follow

  5. Michael Michael says:

    Ironically this helped me better understand love between people but that also helped me better understand love for God and the love of God Parts of the book were dry but I found it strangely compelling

  6. Shari Shari says:

    Levenson offers some interesting insights on complex ideas such as love of Godfear of God Worthwhile reading

  7. The Jewish Book Council The Jewish Book Council says:

    Review by Bob Goldfarb for the Jewish Book Council

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