A spiritual evolution

Martin Goodman’s latest monumental work explores centuries of change in Jewish beliefs and practices.

By GLENN C. ALTSCHULER
March 7, 2018 21:53
4 minute read.
 PAINTING by the Polish artist Maurycy Gottlieb c. 1878, titled ‘Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yo

PAINTING by the Polish artist Maurycy Gottlieb c. 1878, titled ‘Jews Praying in the Synagogue on Yom Kippur.’. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

In the 10th century, Rabbi Saadia Gaon, the leader of the rabbinic academy in Sura, Babylon, laid out the appropriate approaches to scriptural interpretation in his Book of Beliefs and Opinions. To arrive at the truth of religion, he declared, seekers are “obliged at once” to accept evidence verified by the testimony of their senses and/or authenticated by “reliable tradition.”

For many, Saadia added, rational inquiries “may take a long time before they are completed, but that should not worry us; no one prevented by any hindrance from pursuing his investigations is left without religious guidance.”

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