THE CAMBRIDGE COMPANION TO JEWISH THEOLOGY
STEVEN KEPNES, EDITOR
514pp. Cambridge University Press. $34.99.
According to Thomas Aquinas, theology includes what we know of God, what God teaches, and a path towards God. Given the expansiveness of this definition, it may be surprising to see Steven Kepnes state, in his introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Jewish Theology, that "any book on Jewish theology must, unfortunately, include some discussion of the validity of the enterprise". Appreciating why this is the case offers an important lens through which to read the diverse, learned and often stimulating essays that encompass this new collection.
The resistance to Jewish theology is shared by Christians and Jews alike. For Christian theologians as formative and different as Augustine, Aquinas, Luther and Calvin, Judaism is at best a relic of the past that has been superseded by Christianity. To speak of Jewish theology would be at most to speak of Judaism's, or the Old Testament's, anticipation of the coming of Christ, or the New Testament. Sticking stubbornly to the letter rather than the spirit of the law, Judaism after Christ lacks faith and by implication has no theology of which to speak.
While the Christian resistance to Jewish theology may be understandable (if, of course, disturbing to many Jews), it is perhaps more puzzling that so many Jews also reject its relevance. This is the case for...