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Jewish Legal Theories

Writings on State, Religion, and Morality

Edited by Leora Batnitzky and Yonatan Brafman

Contemporary arguments about Jewish law uniquely reflect both the story of Jewish modernity and a crucial premise of modern conceptions of law generally: the claim of autonomy for the intellectual subject and practical sphere of the law. Jewish Legal Theories collects representative modern Jewish writings on law and provides short commentaries and annotations on these writings that situate them within Jewish thought and history, as well as within modern legal theory. The topics addressed by these documents include Jewish legal theory from the modern nation-state to its adumbration in the forms of Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform Judaism in the German-Jewish context; the development of Jewish legal philosophy in Eastern Europe beginning in the eighteenth century; Ultra-Orthodox views of Jewish law premised on the rejection of the modern nation-state; the role of Jewish law in Israel; and contemporary feminist legal theory.

Paper: $26 | E-book: $24.99
ISBN-13: 9781584657446
Pages: 296 | Size: 6 in. x 9 in.
Date Published: January 2, 2018
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Marked by careful selection of texts and a theoretically sophisticated introduction, this work will be a major resource for students of modern Jewish thought and, indeed, anyone interested in how traditions navigate the conditions of modernity.

Suzanne Stone 
Cardozo Law School

Reviews

  • This rich, fascinating volume shows Jewish legal thought in dialogue with modernity, from the nation-state to reproductive technology, feminism, and beyond. Rightly emphasizing tensions and conflicts, the collection hints that Jewish law cannot be defined only as the law of God, the law of the Jews, or the law of the Jewish state. This is a canon-shaping accomplishment.

    Noah Feldman
    Harvard Law School
  • This is a brilliant and ambitious exploration of how the rise of the modern nation-state and the challenge of feminism have transformed the understanding of law in general and Jewish law in particular. Marked by careful selection of texts and a theoretically sophisticated introduction, this work will be a major resource for students of modern Jewish thought and, indeed, anyone interested in how traditions navigate the conditions of modernity.

    Suzanne Stone
    Cardozo Law School

About the Author

Leora Batnitzky

Leora Batnitzky joined the faculty in 1997. Her teaching and research interests include philosophy of religion, modern Jewish thought, hermeneutics, and contemporary legal and political theory. In 2002 she received Princeton’s President’s Award for Distinguished Teaching. She is the author of Idolatry and Representation: The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered (Princeton, 2000), Leo Strauss and Emmanuel Levinas: Philosophy and the Politics of

Yonatan Brafman

Yonatan Y. Brafman is assistant professor of modern Judaism in the Department of Religion and a member of the Program in Judaic Studies at Tufts University. His research focuses on the intersection of Jewish thought, Jewish law, and contemporary moral, legal, and political philosophy. At the Katz Center, he will examine the systematicity of Jewish law in the modern period.

Brafman received his PhD in the philosophy of religion and Jewish thought from Columbia University. He has taught …

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