Oct 11, 2015

Book Review: Pillars of Faith, by Pinchas Taylor

NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.

Book Review: Pillars of Faith, by Pinchas Taylor


Pillars of Faith, by Pinchas Taylor, published by Mosaica Press, is a big book.

While this is not really the genre of book I normally read, I do not remember having seen such a comprehensive book written on such a broad set of subjects within the topic of faith. Most books, I think, in this genre focus on one or two aspects of faith and the arguments about God in those aspects. Pillars of Faith deals with so many aspects of the arguments regarding faith in God that makes this book unique within the genre.

Pillars of Faith is described as "a reasonable approach to the foundation of Judaism". I am not sure what makes one approach more or less reasonable than another, nor do I what would make this, or any, approach considered "reasonable" or "not reasonable"..

Regardless of that, Pinchas Taylor impresses me in Pillars of Faith. I never heard of this fellow before, but he clearly has control of a tremendous breadth of knowledge on the topics of faith, on the arguments for and against Judaism and God.

Many years ago I knew some of the rabbis who taught in a program called "Discovery", in which many arguments and positions were presented to describe Judaism as true and proper, to support faith in God. Knowing those rabbis, I sometimes heard the arguments and presentations that they would present in their Discovery lectures. When I started reading Pillars of Faith I felt like I was in a "Discovery" lecture. In Pillars of Faith, Taylor argues about science and religion by dealing with the arguments of evolution, age of the universe, evil, free will and divine knowledge. Taylor argues  about the origina of the Torah, discusses Bible Criticism, how the Torah fits with modern discoveries. Taylor deals with Jewish identity issues such as matrilineal descent, women, and kashrut,.And, in a section I did not particularly follow well or consider all that reasonable (because of lot of mystical and kabbalistic information is presented), he deals with the afterlife, souls, resurrection, and redemption.

Pillars of Faith is broad, it is well-argued, it is well-organized. Pillars of Faith is well-argued. And Pillars of Faith is broad. Did I mention that already? I am really impressed with how broad of a range of topics Taylor argues in such depth and detail. I cannot imagine how any one person can prepare and analyze so much material on so many different topics in the preparation of one book. This could easily have been divided up into 3 or 4 books, with a dozen years of research. I cannot imagine how Taylor came to master the vast amount of information he presents in this book.

This is not to say that I agree with every argument Taylor presents. There were some, very few, but  a few, arguments and approaches I did not particularly find to my liking. Particularly in the topics of science and religion. Though, the truth is, I never liked those when I heard them from my friends in Discovery either. It always sounds more contrived than truthful. There are so many different arguments and scientific discoveries, you never really know if he is presenting the accepted and most recent and most dominant arguments against and refuting them, or if he is just presenting scientific approaches that are easily refutable and convenient. I don't think the case against scientific-based arguments is really strong enough, just by nature of the fact that science is so dynamic and is always learning more information about how things work and its positions are regularly changing, especially among different scientists.

Despite that, Taylor presents very well, and, as already mentioned, Taylor is very impressive in how much information on such a wide range of topics he has control over.

Pillars of Faith is a book that should be read by people who want to know more about Judaism and how Judaism fits with science and how Judaism deals with many issues of societal concern.
buy Pillars of Faith on Amazon.com




NOTE: I was not paid to review this book. It is an unbiased and objective review. If you have a book with Jewish or Israel related content and would like me to write a review, contact me for details of where to send me a review copy of the book.




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2 comments:

  1. matrimonial descent

    I think you meant matrilineal descent.

    ReplyDelete
  2. fixed. thanks. thats the fault of spellcheck (which I dont use often enough, but when I do it doesn't always help)

    ReplyDelete

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