- Last Name
- First Name
- Kenneth Seeskin
- Jewish Messianic Thoughts in an Age of Despair
- Cambridge University Press
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Contents: Messianism and mythology --Maimonides and the idea of a deflationary Messiah -- Internalism: the Messiah within -- Infinite deferral -- History and rationality -- History and irrationality -- Redemption.
Summary: Belief in the coming of a Messiah poses a genuine dilemma. From a Jewish perspective, the historical record is overwhelmingly against it. If despite all the tragedies that have befallen the Jewish people no legitimate Messiah has come forward, has the belief not been shown to be groundless? Yet for all the problems associated with messianism, the historical record also shows it is an idea with enormous staying power. The prayer book mentions it on page after page. The great Jewish philosophers all wrote about it. Secular thinkers in the twentieth century returned to it and reformulated it. And victims of the Holocaust invoked it in the last few minutes of their life. This book examines the staying power of messianism and analyzes it in a way that retains its redemptive force without succumbing to mythology. This book contends that the chief contribution of Judaism to world culture is not just monotheism, but the belief in a better future and also asks whether hope for a better future is defensible in light of the human propensity for evil. The thoughts of Maimonides, Kant, and Hermann Cohen are harnessed, along with other modern thinkers to argue that messianism is the pure fruit of monotheism as well as the rational foundation for a realistic and ethically responsible Jewish philosophy of history. Seeskin defends messianic hope, on rational grounds, against despair.
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