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Bible, Hebrew

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-J048-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved July 16, 2024, from

Article Summary

Although the Bible is not a work of systematic philosophy, it none the less contains a wide variety of philosophical and theological ideas which have served as the framework for rabbinic speculation through the centuries. Although these views about the nature and activity of God are not presented systematically, they do provide an overview of the ancient Israelite understanding of the Godhead, creation, divine providence and human destiny. Throughout rabbinic literature these notions served as the bedrock for theological speculation, and with the emergence of systematic Jewish philosophy in the Middle Ages, they came to preoccupy a variety of thinkers. Similarly, in the post-Enlightenment period until the present, scriptural teaching has served as the starting point for philosophical and theological reflection.

Foremost among scriptural beliefs is the conviction that one God has created the cosmos. As the transcendent creator of the universe, he reigns supreme throughout nature and is intimately involved in earthly life. God is both omnipotent and omniscient and exercises divine providence over all creatures – from on high he oversees all the inhabitants of the earth. In exercising his providential care, Scripture repeatedly asserts, God is a benevolent ruler who shows compassion and mercy to all. Furthermore, as lord of history, he has chosen Israel to be his special people and has revealed the Torah to them on Mount Sinai. The Jewish people are to be a light to the nations, and from their midst will come a Messianic redeemer who will inaugurate a period of divine deliverance and eventually usher in the world to come. Israel thus plays a central role in the unfolding of God’s plan for all human beings.

Citing this article:
Cohn-Sherbok, Dan. Bible, Hebrew, 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-J048-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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