Archive for February 4th, 2010

Is the doctrine of “Original Sin” warranted in the Tanakh or in Jewish tradition?

Is the doctrine of “Original Sin” warranted in the Tanakh or in Jewish tradition? The question is more complex than it might seem; obviously, if Christian scholars cannot agree on what constitutes “Original Sin,” why should it matter what Jewish scholars or texts have to say about this question? Here is a short summary to consider:

As a rule, rabbinic tradition did not subscribe to the Christian description of Genesis 3 as the “Fall,”–a term which does not appear at all ...

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Two Medieval Jewish Thinkers on the “Image of God”

The concept of the Imago Dei ( “Image of God”) has fascinated Jewish thinkers since the time of Philo and Ben Sira. For now, we will focus only on two famous medieval thinkers: Saadia Gaon and Maimonides.

Saadia points out in his philosophic classic that בְּצֶלֶם אֱלֹהִים  (B’tse’lem ´élöhîm= “in the likeness of the Divine image”) is figurative language for God bestowing special honor unto humankind, which He did not confer unto the rest of Creation. This distinctiveness is visible in ...

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