Jewish Messianic Thoughts in an Age of Despair
Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, 232 pp.
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 formulates it in a way that retains its redemptive force without succumbing to mythology.
• Examines Messianism without succumbing to mythology
• Addresses big issues in a straightforward way
• Complete coverage of the history of the idea and the problems it raises
Table of contents:
1. Messianism and mythology
2. Maimonedes and the idea of a deflationary Messiah
3. Internalism: the Messiah within
4. Infinite deferral
5. History and rationality
6. History and irrationality