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Image of the Non-Jew in JudaismA Historical and Constructive Study of the Noahide Laws$
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David Novak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764074

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764074.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 22 September 2021

Moses Mendelssohn and his School

Moses Mendelssohn and his School

(p.206) Chapter Thirteen Moses Mendelssohn and his School
Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism

David Novak

Liverpool University Press

This chapter illustrates how Moses Mendelssohn, the first truly modern Jewish philosopher, tendered a philosophically rich interpretation of the Noahide laws, one at great variance with the interpretations that preceded it. In Jerusalem, Mendelssohn held that the Noahide laws were not part of revelation, and were universally intelligible through human reason. In fact, revelation is inferior to reason because the latter is immediately and publicly available to all and the former is a snapshot in time, restricted, non-universal. Consequently, Noahide law, which is universal, is greater than revealed law. Mendelssohn is not calling for the removal of Judaism, and in fact holds that Judaism is the most rational of the revealed religions. Nonetheless, Judaism remains a component in a universal religion of reason. Mendelssohn's reversal of the traditional understanding of the respective roles of Noahide and Mosaic law was revolutionary.

Keywords:   Moses Mendelssohn, Jewish philosopher, Noahide laws, revelation, human reason, revealed law, Judaism, revealed religions, Mosaic law

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