Doctrine & Dogma

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And yet, with the advent of modernity, many Jewish scholars and theologians--including Moses Mendelsohn (1729-1786) and Leo Baeck (1873-1956)--rejected the idea that Judaism has dogmas. These scholars admitted that there are certain ideas implicit in Jewish texts and traditions, but they believed that formal doctrinal articulation was a medieval corruption of biblical and rabbinic Judaism.

Traditional authorities, however, have never viewed Maimonides' principles as a departure from the rabbinic tradition. Most Orthodox Jews believe that dogma is essential to Judaism and that Maimonides' principles are normative.

In addition, some recent scholarship has questioned the liberal/academic assumption that beliefs were not important in biblical and rabbinic Judaism. Historian David Berger has pointed out that though the talmudic rabbis did not have creeds like Maimonides', they did believe (as noted above) that the denial of certain theological ideas would exclude one from a share in the World to Come.

While Berger views these as examples of rabbinic dogma, other scholars have viewed them as the only examples of rabbinic dogma, an anathema that could be explained by looking at the statement's historical context.

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