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Lecture 2-Intro to Judaism.pdf

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Religious Studies
RELG 204
Patricia Kirkpatrick

Plato Ideas particulars give way to universals the world we see in which we move and live is a mere play of shadows the true essence of things is not matter, but form, ideas and their concrete embodiment in the world of the senses the more universal a culture is, the closer to truth it comes we begin in childhood attached to family, then grow attached to friends + neighbours + society + humankind the history of homosapiens is the move from small roving bands to tribes, to city-states, to nations, and ultimately global governance Bible universalism leads to the belief that there is only one truth about the essentials of the human condition, and it holds true for all people at all times the Hebrew bible tells the story of God who makes a covenant with an individual, Abraham, whose children become a family, then a tribe, then a collection of tribes, then a nation a narrative of a particular people but the Bible does not begin with this people, instead beginning by telling a story about humanity as a whole Genesis: Adam and Eve, Cain & Abel, Noah and the Flood, Babel and the tower about humanity as a whole conveying a set of truths through narrative begins with universal humanity, and only then proceeds to the particular one man (Abe) + one woman (Sara) + one people the Bible argues that universalism is the first, and not the last step in growth Cain a warning, Adam a test, Noah a challenge all end badly, with God’s disappointment and regret in making man on Earth after the flood, first universal moral code through covenant with God Genesis 11:1 Tower of Babel "the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastwards, they found a plane in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, come, let’s makebricks and bake them thoroughly….” then built a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens God scatters them over all the Earth and confuses their languages they make a technological discovery, learning how to make bricks by drying clay, the first processed building material in history they then conclude they now have the power of gods and want to storm the heavens where God rests their manmade environment, the city and the ziggurat, will replicate the structure of the cosmos, and they will rule from there a supreme act of hubris that is committed time and time again in history the attempt to impose a human-made unity on divinely-created diversity that is what is wrong with universalism!! Babel is the turning point in the biblical narrative God then on does not try for universal order division of humankind into a multiplicity of languages, cultures, nations his covenant with humanity as a whole has not ceased, but from hereon, he will focus on one family as witnesses he will ask of them to be willing to give up their home, birthplace, and land to undertake a journey with God as their only protection this is the story of Israel theirs will be a singular and exemplary fate they will be separate, different, and holy BUT WHY? Judaism a particularist monotheism believes in one God, but not in one religion, one culture, one truth the God of Abraham is the God of all humankind they do not believe that you must belong to Church for salvation the pious of the nations have a share in the world to come the God of Israel is the God of all teach others the dignity of difference idea that unity creates diversity, the non-platonic miracle of creation the radical transcendence of God in the Hebrew Bible means nothing more than that there is a difference between God and religion God is universal, religions are particular hence, religious truth is not universal, which does not mean it is not relative difference between absolutist and universality few things have
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