The Return of Biblical Theology: Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks and the Theological-Literary Movement

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Lord Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the former Chief Rabbi of the British Empire, is probably the most important and well-known Jewish theologian of the twenty-first century. He believed passionately that Jewish values have relevance for all of mankind. What is somewhat surprising is the source of R. Sacks's theology. Orthodox Jewish theology has traditionally been anchored in either the perspective of Talmudic Rabbis as transmitted through the halacha and the aggadda, or based on the works of the great medieval Jewish philosophers such as the Rambam, Crescas and Yehuda Halevi. In contradistinction to these approaches, R. Sacks turned to the Bible as the primary source of his theology. This "returning to the bible"is consistent with other trends in orthodox Jewish scholarship which also emphasizes a return to intensive study of the biblical text using modern methodologies. However, since biblical theology is open to a myriad of differing and even contradictory opinions, the role of rabbinic tradition is of utmost importance. Thus, for Rabbi Sacks's theology to have lasting impact it needs to be based on, and a natural extension of, the timeless Jewish tradition. This essay will explore these issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)27-42
Number of pages16
JournalModern Judaism
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2022


  • Biblical Theology
  • Jewish Ethics
  • Jewish Theology
  • Jonathan Sacks

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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