Ellis Rivkin, Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Jewish History Emeritus at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, will deliver a series of lectures next week as part of the Rosenblatt Foundation Scholar-in-Residence program.
Rivkin received a Simon Guggenheim Fellowship to do archival research on the role of Jews in the development of early capitalism in Europe. His book, "The Shaping of Jewish History: A Radical New Interpretation," introduced Rivkin's conception of unity and of a relationship between capitalism and religious freedom, noting that Jews are restricted in every society where capitalism is restricted or primitive and free in every society where capitalism has flourished.In his lectures, Rivkin will explore his discoveries in the philosophy of history and religion.
During telephone interviews from his home in Cincinnati, Rivkin explained how Judaism exemplified "a unity principle that affirms that underlying all of reality is a single power, not multiple powers. In all change and diversity, there is a God that is a source of that power."
Rivkin said that as the Jews progressed from a semi-nomadic people to a society that held land under its own sovereignty or autonomy under Greek and Persian rulers, "they were able to solve ever more complex problems as their created survival attests." When they encountered new problems and more complex institutions, instead of adding new gods, the Jews drew on this unity power and realized God was more than what He was once thought to be.
"As history and new situations evolve, so does the way in which we perceive God. It's not that God has altered, (but) you can now see those attributes of God that were there all along," Rivkin said.
The unity principle allowed the variations and radical transformations that occurred in Judaism. The scholar said he had spent his whole life trying to understand the revelatory process. He has come to believe that new experiences require drawing on unused or previously unperceived omnipotence from God.
Rivkin's ties to Utah began in 1967 when he lectured at the University of Utah. He said he had also spent a summer in Utah. "I was very struck by the kind of people I met."
The public is invited to the following lectures:
- Thursday, May 9: Congregation Kol Ami, 2425 E. 2760 South, 7:30 p.m. "Judaism and the God of History."
- Saturday, May 11: Shabbat services 9 a.m. Congregation Kol Ami, "A New Look at the Pharisees: Origins of Halacha and Its Meaning for Modern Judaism." (Please no note-taking. Writing is not appropriate on the Jewish Sabbath.)
- Sunday, May 12: Park City Jewish Community meeting at Snowed Inn, 3770 N. Highway 224, Park City. 10:30 a.m. "Paul and the Parting of the Ways."
For information, call 328-8899.