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The Voice of God on Mount Sinai.
Rabbinic Commentaries on Exodus 20:1 in the Light of Sufi and Zen-Buddhist Texts
Third, revised and enlarged edition

2008, pp. XVII +180

This study presents an attempt to read the biblical verse that introduces God's revelation on Mount Sinai - a verse which, for the Rabbis, bears deep meaning - in a quite unusual and very broad context. In the hope of throwing more light on the often brief and enigmatic rabbinic views on Exodus 20:1, relevant texts, often equally enigmatic, from Sufism and from the Zen-Buddhist tradition are taken into consideration. All these texts express various degrees of spiritual insight or mystical experience.

The Sufi and Zen-Buddhist texts offer, at various levels, similar material of great interest. These sources are here presented as far as possible in their own contexts and with their own emphasis.

It is hoped that this study, besides providing help for a better understanding of some profound rabbinic texts, will also contribute Io the much-advocated interreligious dialogue and encounter which promise Io be most fruitful when they take place on the level of Sacred Scriptures and their interpretation.

  • “The whole study is well-documented and extremely clearly exposed.”— Mariasusai Dhavamony, Gregorianum
  • “I concur … and welcome Neudecker’s comparative approach as fundamentally sound and potentially fruitful.”
    — John Renard, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations
  • “R. Neudecker’s study, The Voice of God on Mount Sinai, … I believe pioneered a new and promising field of interdisciplinary efforts in Judaism, Islam, (Christianity,) and Buddhism with regard to religious philosophies of scriptural interpretation.” — Isaiah Teshima, Annual of the Japanese Biblical Institute
  • “… this publication merits the attention of the intercultural scholars, since it has widened the horizon of revealed texts by implication at least …” — Anand Amaladass, Satya Nilayam: Chennai Journal of Intercultural Philosophy
  • “Er (Neudecker) geht aus von den höchst interessanten rabbinischen Interpretationen ..., die eine ganze Theologie der Offenbarung umfassen könnten. … Ein außerordentlich anregendes Werk …” — Michael von Brück, Theologische Literaturzeitung
  • “… Il faut savoir gré à l’auteur d’avoir constitué un riche dossier et suggéré une méthode de lecture méditative capable d’ouvrir bien des portes. … À peine entamé, le chantier semble prometteur.” — Jacques Scheuer, Revue Théologique de Louvain

Reinhard NEUDECKER (born in Germany in 1938), Dr. theol. (University of Innsbruck), Ph. D. (Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati), is Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. His previous publications deal with rabbinic studies (e.g. Frührabbinisches Ehescheidungsrecht: Der Tosefta-Traktat Gittin, Rome 1982) and Jewish-Christian relations (e.g. Die vielen Gesichter des einen Gottes: Juden und Christen im Gespräch, Munich 1989). His initial contact with Zen Buddhism took place in 1980 when he spent six months in Kamakura studying Zen. He continued these studies in Japan, usually during the summer months. His interest in Sufism goes back to 1982 when he made the acquaintance of Prof. Richard Gramlich, a prominent scholar in that field.