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Theology and Poetry [Paperback]

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Item description for Theology and Poetry by Jakob J. Petuchowski...

This volume provides texts and English translations, with commentary, of Hebrew liturgical poems from the 6th to the 14th century. The poems, emanating from different Jewish communities, often express personal as well as traditional theological views.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   160
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.45" Width: 5.25" Height: 8.25"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Sep 5, 2000
Publisher   Littman Library of Jewish Civilization
ISBN  1904113168  
ISBN13  9781904113164  

Availability  0 units.

More About Jakob J. Petuchowski

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Rabbi Jakob J. Petuchowski, PhD (z"l) (1925 1991) was raised in Berlin, the grandson of an Orthodox rabbi and a member of an Orthodox community until age fourteen, when he escaped the Nazis on one of the last transports rescuing Jewish children. After a brief stay in England, he moved to the United States, and attended the Hebrew Union College, where he was ordained, earned a PhD and served as faculty member instructing generations of students in liturgy, rabbinics, and theology. He wrote or edited over thirty books, including the classic treatment of prayer book reform in Europe.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Jewish > General
2Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Classics > Medieval
3Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > History & Criticism > Criticism & Theory > General
4Books > Subjects > Literature & Fiction > Poetry > General
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Social Sciences > Sociology > General
6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Judaism > Theology

Reviews - What do customers think about Theology and Poetry?

An illuminating and inspiring study of a Poetry of Prayer and Daring Ideas  Apr 27, 2008
Jacob J. Petuchowski was a distinguished scholar whose work focused on Jewish religious texts and practice. In this inspiring book he selects eleven examples of medieval Piyyutim and shows how the poems were expressions of theological innovation. He also provides an overall background to the 'Piyyut' and outlines its historical role and function. I found this introductory material to be especially illuminating. For he explains the scholarly controversy between Aaron Mirsky and Ezra Fleischer regarding the origin and meaning of the Piyyutim. Fleischer maintained that the writers of the Piyyutim did not begin their work until after the majority of the standard prayers had chrystallized. Mirsky looks for the origin of the Piyyutim in the Talmudic Age. Mirsky argued that the early Piyyutim reflect thought- patterns and speech-patterns of the talmudic haggadah and agadah.
Petuchowski outlines the different role the piyyutim have had in Ashkenazic and Sephardic traditions. He claims that while for the Sephardim the Piyyutim played a far more marginal role in the liturgy the ones composed by them were more aesthetically valuable than those in the Ashkenazi tradition. Petuchowski shows too how these insertions of additional prayers within the standard text was objected to historically, and gradually phased out over time. One central objection was that they broke the flow of the regular prayer. Another relates to the great difficulty of their language and the fact that they were poorly understood by many who used them as prayers.
Petuchowski chooses just eleven Piyyutim out of the thousands that have been composed (He does cite the monumental anthology of Israel Davidson containing over four- thousand piyyutim). He begins with one of the most beloved of all prayers, Yigdal, the poem of Daniel Ben Judah of Rome who lived around the year 1300. This poem is based on the thirteen- point creedal statement of the Rambam, the greatest of all medieval Jewish philosophers. Its immense popularity is attrituable according to Petuchowski to the 'towering figure' of the Rambam and the poetic power of the work.
The other works interpreted are : The Hymn of Glory , More Guilty are We, Hasten , my Beloved, The Day the Deep Sea Turned, There is None Like You among the Dumb, God,Save Yourself and Us, How Can Man be Pure, Moses Went up on High, Lo, Mother Zion, If Enemies Speak Evil. "
Pertuchowski points to the boldness and daring of the theological ideas in these poems. For instance Isaac bar Shalom dares ask and question God after a medieval pogrom with "There is None Like You Among the Dumb" a powerful ironic play upon one of the central verses asserting the majesty and power of God. Petuchowski reads each separate poem in a way as to augment our understanding of the theological variety in the Jewish tradition. In a somewhat lamenting tone he points to the fact today we are lacking in that great learning and knowledge, and a love of problem and puzzle- solving - essential qualities for close reading of these poems.
This is an illuminating inspiring study which I cannot recommend more highly. In fact I intend to go back , reread and study certain portions of the book very soon.

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