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Learned IgnoranceIntellectual Humility among Jews, Christians and Muslims$
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James L. Heft, Reuven Firestone, and Omid Safi

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199769308

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199769308.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 October 2021

Chosenness and the Exclusivity of Truth1

Chosenness and the Exclusivity of Truth1

(p.107) 6 Chosenness and the Exclusivity of Truth1
Learned Ignorance

Reuven Firestone

Oxford University Press

This chapter tackles the Jewish idea of “chosenness” (or election) that seems to be deeply imbedded, not just in Judaism, but in all major monotheistic faiths. It asks: What might be the origin of this notion? What might it have meant to be “chosen” in the ancient world? Assuming that the competing religious truth claims made in past history and now jutting into our own day are linked to ancient concepts of chosenness, the chapter explores its origins from the perspective of both historical and social-scientific approaches to the study of religion. It shows how understanding historical context and historicizing monotheism can soften the harshness of absolutist claims for exclusive truth without relativizing faith. It argues that understanding the social processes affecting religion and religious argument can help those engaged in religious dialogue reduce or even eliminate off-putting forms of absolutism.

Keywords:   Jews, Judaism, chosenness, absolutism, historical context, monotheism, exclusive truth, absolutism, religious dialogue

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