Cover image for The Jewish approach to God : a brief introduction for Christians
The Jewish approach to God : a brief introduction for Christians
Gillman, Neil.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Woodstock, Vt. : Jewish Lights Pub., [2003]

Physical Description:
xvii, 164 pages ; 22 cm
God is echad -- God is power -- God is person -- God is nice (sometimes) -- God is not nice (sometimes) -- God can change -- God creates -- God reveals -- God redeems -- Conclusion : what it means to be Jewish.
Format :


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BM610 .G52 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BM610 .G52 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
BM610 .G52 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BM610 .G52 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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A window into the Jewish understanding of God throughout history and today--written especially for Christians.

In Jewish Scripture--Christianity's foundation--God's presence is everywhere: in nature, in history and in the range of human experience. Yet the Torah, Maimonides and 4,000 years of Jewish tradition all agree on one thing: that God is beyond any form of human comprehension. How, then can Judaism be so crowded with descriptions and images of God? And what can they mean to the ways Christians understand their own faith?

In this special book, Rabbi Neil Gillman guides you through these questions and the countless different ways the Jewish people have related to God, how each originated and what each may mean for you. Whether you are Christian, Muslim or even Jewish, this nuts-and-bolts introduction will both answer your questions--and stimulate new ones.

A theologian who writes as a great teacher, Gillman addresses the key concepts at the heart of Judaism's approach to God. From Ein Sof (Infinity) to Shekhinah (Presence), Gillman helps you understand what the search for knowing God itself says about Jewish tradition and how you can use the fundamentals of Judaism to strengthen, explore and deepen your own spiritual foundations.

God Is Echad (Unique) God Is Power God Is Person God Is Nice--Sometimes God Is Not Nice--Sometimes God Can Change God Creates God Reveals God Redeems

Author Notes

Neil Gillman was born in Quebec City, Canada on September 11, 1933. He studied philosophy and French literature at McGill University in Montreal. He studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Manhattan and was ordained as a rabbi in 1960. He received a doctorate in philosophy from Columbia University in 1975. He was a professor of Jewish philosophy at the Jewish Theological Seminary for 46 years and dean of its rabbinical school for 10 years.

He gave aspiring rabbis and congregants in the Conservative movement new ways to talk about God, death, and the afterlife. He was also an important advocate for the movement's ordination of women and gays. He wrote several books including The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought and Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew, which won the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish thought. He died from cancer on November 24, 2017 at the age of 84.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gillman proves to be a master teacher as he explains the difference between how Jews and Christians view God. In an accessible, organized style he uses metaphor--To think and talk of God . . . is to think and talk metaphorically --to reveal aspects of the God of the Israelites vis-a-vis biblical, historical, and contemporary interpretations. He relates how the Jewish view of God has evolved as the life circumstances of those speaking about God changed, from Job to Rabbi Harold Kushner in When Bad Things Happen to Good People. Further, he recounts how the Christian view of God also evolved, as it were, from the Jewish God of the Old Testament, and he details the difference between the ways Jews and Christians behold the words of the Bible. He explores God's uniqueness, omniscience, omnipotence, justice, love, and revelation, and he examines various takes on Creation as depicted in Genesis and redemption at the end of days. Taking on a complicated topic, Gillman treats it with clarity and dignity. --Donna Chavez Copyright 2003 Booklist

Publisher's Weekly Review

For a Christian, reading this book is like taking an introductory language course. You may not learn to speak the new language fluently, but in the process of studying it you discover a great deal about your own. The book's subject is God, not Judaism, and its perspective is generally Conservative (the author's denomination) and liberal/mystical in the tradition of his mentor Abraham Joshua Heschel. The Jewish understanding of God is based on the Shema: "The Lord our God alone is God." Gillman (The Death of Death) notes: "In Judaism since the beginning, God was not the conclusion of an argument but rather its point of departure. We begin with the conviction that there is a God in the world and that the world is all God's work." This God is powerful but self-limiting, personal and vulnerable, compassionate but sometimes angry or absent. In the Jewish worldview, God's work of creating, revealing and redeeming is shared with human beings. The mystical belief that "not only are Jews partners with God in redeeming the world, they are also partners with God in redeeming God" may sound radical, but "Christianity, by portraying a God who suffered and died on the Cross, extended this biblical notion... beyond anything that Judaism had ever imagined." Gillman teaches at the Jewish Theological Seminary and frequently speaks to Jewish and Christian congregations. This accessible volume, distilled from a lifetime of interaction with students of both faiths, is a warm and compelling introduction to the God of the Bible. (Dec.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

At this moment in world history, when anti-Semitic violence is inexplicably on the rise in both Europe and America, it seems especially important to have competent explanations of Jewish life and spirituality for the uninitiated. Enter Rabbi Gillman (Jewish philosophy, Jewish Theological Seminary; Sacred Fragments: Recovering Theology for the Modern Jew, etc.) and this brief, intelligent, honest approach to contemporary Jewish spirituality, written for a Christian audience. Gillman never oversimplifies a complex picture-indeed, he cherishes the "plurality and fluidity" of the images of God in his religion and speaks of the "unrequited thirst for religious sharing among people today." Whether or not this book reaches those who need its ideas most, it is a valuable addition to any library's collection. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Introductionp. vii
A Note on the Textp. xvii
1. God Is Echadp. 1
2. God Is Powerp. 19
3. God Is Personp. 33
4. God Is Nice (Sometimes)p. 53
5. God Is Not Nice (Sometimes)p. 65
6. God Can Changep. 83
7. God Createsp. 97
8. God Revealsp. 115
9. God Redeemsp. 129
Conclusion: What It Means to Be Jewishp. 145
Notesp. 147
Glossaryp. 151
Suggestions for Further Readingp. 163