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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.

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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.

This book asks whether hope for a better future is defensible in light of the horrors of the twentieth century and what we know about the human propensity for evil. It argues that such a belief is defensible and offers a vision of what a redeemed world would be like. He joined the faculty of Northwestern in and has taught there ever since.

In , Seeskin was named Philip M. Convert currency. Add to Basket.

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Book Description Cambridge University Press, Language: English. Since it is a message of commandment, it brings sufferings as well as consolation. There is here no mere dreaming about the future; for the man who dreams about the future does nothing about the present. There is a driving compelling element in this idea of peace that is well-nigh revolutionary. Every great idea, every conception thought out to the messianic end, means opposition; a commandment is paramount to a protest because it is not only concerned with the alleviation of the needs of the hour, but also demands the days to come… The Essence of Judaism.

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Though the end goal is world peace, the ideal is not pacifism, nor is it the peace of treaties at the end of war that are based on winners and losers. That notion continues the imbalance of power among peoples and nurtures the resentment that leads to dreams of revenge. The peace of the Messianic Age is a peace forged in complete mutuality. No one should be afraid that people may covet their vine or fig tree, no one will fear the loss of land or resources, no one will be humiliated.

Seeskin, Kenneth. Jewish Messianic Thought in an Age of Despair

The world provides enough for everyone and sufficiency will take away the desire for war. The Messianic Age is no different from our own, save in respect for peace. There will still be death, disease, inequalities of talent and opportunity, but as Moses Maimonides Mishneh Torah Hilchot Melachim 12 says. There will not be in those days any famine, war, jealousy, or quarrel, because the good things will be in plenty and even luxuries will be found everywhere. All people will busy themselves with trying to know the Eternal. Therefore, the Israelites will be great sages, knowing things which are at present hidden.

In this new age, it is not just Israel but people of all faiths who come to God.

It takes place — not in some idealised future, but now… The timing of it indicated in the Psalm We read in the news of the refugees who wander the world in search of a home; we hear testimonies from women of their experience of sexual harassment; and we experience loneliness. The world is un-redeemed. The nineteenth century reformers, who founded Reform Judaism with a commitment to the spirit of Enlightenment rationalism, were careful to conceive of a messianism stripped of the more bizarre supernatural trappings that had accumulated around the doctrine.

Instead of an individual messiah, they referred to the messianic age; instead of praying for a restoration of temple sacrifices and end of exile, they focused on the prophetic promise of peace and harmony in the countries in which they had recently been granted citizenship; instead of waiting for God to send a messiah, human beings would bring the messianic age through a commitment to ethical action. These reformers were full of hope in humanity: they saw the path to redemption in western European modernity which had emancipated them and promised, through rationalism and democracy, a pathway towards the perfection of humanity and peace.

  1. Ashes to Ashes;
  2. Institutional Ethnography: A Sociology for People (Gender Lens).
  3. Reform Judaism in 1000 Words: The Messianic Age and Redemption.
  4. Jewish messianic thoughts in an age of despair;

Western modernity was their messiah. The twentieth century shattered this hopefulness.

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The ravages of the First World War undermined the Enlightenment faith in rationalism; the Shoah then broke our faith in humanity. It turned out that history is not the story of a linear progress towards the good that the messianism of the reformers promised it would be. Whilst this moved a generation of British Jews towards the possibility of a proud affirmation of Jewishness, it has left a younger generation confused, disappointed and often angry.

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Kenneth Seeskin (Northwestern University) - PhilPeople

Meanwhile, contemporary politics has led liberals to despair as our core principles are undermined and challenged across the globe. A renewed Reform Jewish messianic theology RJmt is needed. He understood the profound crisis in s European politics to have arisen out of the conception of history as linear.

He joined the faculty of Northwestern in and has taught there ever since.

A 17th-century ‘holy apostasy’: like Christ’s crucifixion, the fulfillment of a messianic prophecy?

In , Seeskin was named Philip M. Jewish Messianic Thoughts in an Age of Despair. Kenneth Seeskin. Belief in the coming of a Messiah poses a genuine dilemma.