I am reading and blogging about Jon Levenson’s book, The Love of God.
Levenson deals with midrash and other interpretations of the Bible in rabbinic writings. I don’t know a lot about rabbinic thought. Some of this chapter touches on controversies and ideas that I know little about. So I am going to just try to summarize his main thoughts and pick out some of the ideas that interest me.
One of the concerns of the rabbis was the contrast between love and fear. In the Bible fear of God often meant something closer to awe. But many saw fear as the dread of punishment. So the rabbis took up the question of whether someone could love God if the motive was fear. They often concluded that fear detracted from love, which should be pure and inspired by God’s person rather than concern about one’s own fate. However, the rabbis…
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