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The Moral Hermeneutics of David Novak

Sun, December 16, 12:30 to 2:00pm, Seaport Hotel & World Trade Center, Federal 1 Complex

Session Submission Type: Panel Session

Abstract

**in memoriam Rabbi Asher Turin**

David Novak’s thought is unique in reconstructing a natural law ethics from the sources of the Jewish tradition, especially regarding the concept of the Noachide Laws. Novak’s philosophy is grounded in rabbinic texts, medieval Jewish philosophy and post-Kantian philosophy, while also in dialogue with and in critique of contemporary liberal theory. This panel will deal with an underexplored area of Novak’s thought: his hermeneutics of biblical, rabbinic and medieval philosophical texts. Jonathan Milevsky will present on Novak’s exegesis of God’s covenants with Noah and Abraham in Genesis 9 and 15. Alexander Green will discuss Novak’s interpretation of medieval Jewish philosophy and the contrast he lays out between a metaphysical (in Maimonides) and a non-metaphysical theory of natural law (in Saadya, Nachmanides and others). Randi Rashkover will examine Novak’s use of taamei ha-mitzvot (the reasons for the commandments) as a response to the challenge of secularization.

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