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Isshinkyosekai no naka no Yudaya-Kyo (Judaism in the Monotheistic World - Festschrift in honor of Prof. Hiroshi Ichikawa)


KATSUMATA Etsuko, SHIBATA Daisuke, SHIDA Masahiro, TAKAI Keisuke (eds.)


423 pages, A5 format




January 30, 2020



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Isshinkyosekai no naka no Yudaya-Kyo

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This book commemorates the retirement of Professor Hiroshi Ichikawa, who has been teaching in the Department of Religious Studies, Faculty of Letters, University of Tokyo, and it is a collection of papers compiled by scholars and students who were/are under his guidance. Professor Ichikawa is an eminent scholar of Judaism in Japan and is known for many important studies on the legal system, history, and culture of Rabbinic Judaism. The title of this book is derived from the religious historical perspective introduced in one of his main works, The History of Judaism (Yamakawa Publishing Co., Ltd., 2009). The perspective of examining the lives and cultures of human societies in various eras and regions through the historical changes in religion is shared throughout the book, while being internalized individually by the authors of each paper.
Regarding the composition of the book, 15 papers are grouped into four sections, arranged in chronological order. The first section contains studies on the creation of Judaism in ancient Israel, which is the forerunner of modern Judaism, the ancient Mesopotamian and Babylonian documents, and the Hebrew Bible. The second section is a collection of papers on the internal sects of Judaism and the ancient Roman religion during the formative period of Christianity, another religion born from Biblical Judaism, as well as the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. In the first half of this book, you can learn not only the rich culture and history of the religious world in antiquity, including religions other than Judaism, but also a variety of research approaches in religious studies, such as examination of the concept of "monotheism", interpretation of religious texts, study of religious history of the ancient world, and comparative religious studies.
The third and fourth sections cover medieval and modern cases of Rabbinic Judaism, which has changed significantly from the ancient temple-centered religious system. In the new Judaism, centered on Rabbis, the teachers of Jewish law, their Torah studies have given rise to literature such as the Talmud and Midrash. This Rabbinic literature has not only served as a source of social norms for Jews living as religious minorities in the Islamic and Christian worlds, but also as a framework for considering the question of "who we are" and recognizing reality. Eventually, in modern times, the Jewish community was faced with social demands for civic behavior, enlightenment, and the rise of nationalism, and presented a different response in each context. In the second half of the book, you can learn about the historical aspects of Rabbinic Judaism, which is not well known in Japan, such as the knowledge about the Talmud and other Rabbinic literature, Jewish polemics against Christianity, the Cairo-Geniza documents, and the traditionalist learning culture of modern Eastern Europe. You can also look at the life of Jewish citizens in various cities and nations, using Venice and Bosnia as examples.
It is said that a collection of essays for dedication expresses the vision of the researcher to whom it is dedicated. The fact that this book covers not only Judaism but also the surrounding religious culture, from ancient times to the present day, means that Professor Hiroshi Ichikawa's vision truly has that breadth and depth. That vision teaches us the following: that no matter what you specialize in, always be aware of the big questions behind it, and open the questions to two types of “others,” namely, those who are the subjects of your research, and those who read your research. If this book is intellectually stimulating for readers who are interested in and want to learn about different cultures, it would be an unexpected pleasure for me as one of the editors.

(Written by SHIDA Masahiro, Lecturer, Graduate School of Humanities and Sociology / 2021)

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