Monday, May 31, 2004

Menachem Keller on Marc Shapiro

We begin this week's Hock on the Edah Journal with Menachem Kellner's book review of Marc Shapiro's recent work on the Ikkarim. Now we have already weighed in here in the House about the 13 Dogmas and have offered a replacement set and Simcha has had what to say already about the review.

(But this post is not about us, it's about Kellner's review.)
Observations are as follows:
1) It is intellectually dishonest to have Menachem Kellner review Shapiro's book, as Kellner (as noted in his review) wrote a book with a similiar goal around 10 years ago. He is a noga'ah be-davar as his review continually mention his personal anecdotes with these issues.
2) He mentions three books that Littman published "concerning Orthodox Jewish theology". And though it is true that Kellner's, Shapiro's & Berger's book all tangentially relate to Jewish Theology; they all serve to stymy Jewish theology. Shapiro, Berger, & Kellner are not creating new Jewish theology or theological discourse, they are undermining and downplaying theological discourse. Based upon my investigations the only people doing anything interesting or substantive in Orthodox Jewish theology in America are Professor Alan Brill (later on that this week), R. Moshe Wolfson, & maybe R. Moshe Weinberger. This discussion of pro/con Dogma is anything but theology. Once we work out what is acceptably theologically, we can move on to actually doing someone real theological discourse. While Kellner would like to get on "getting along with other Jews (though I have always wondered what other Jews were completely shomer mitzvos but theologically krum), it appears that they are less interested in theological discussion altogether.
3) As Simcha pointed out, Dogma has always been a concern for the Jewish people and the Jewish religion, whether it is with Christians in late antiquity, with the Karaites in the Middle Ages or discussion of Kabbalah or Philosophy.
5) Rather than "Returning the Crown to its Ancient Glory", Kellner & Shapiro seek to create a desiccated Judaism, based upon Halakha with a minimal theology.

As a final note on Shapiro, Nachum Lamm has probably the best analysis of Marc Shapiro, though I strongly disagree with the Blogger from Queens.

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