The life of faith as a work of art: a Rabbinic theology of faith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper argues that God, despite his Perfection, can have faith in us. The paper includes exegesis of various Midrasihc texts, so as to understand the Rabbinic claim that God manifested faith in creating the world. After the exegesis, the paper goes on to provide philosophical motivation for thinking that the Rabbinic claim is consistent with Perfect Being Theology, and consistent with a proper analysis of the nature of faith. Finally, the paper attempts to tie the virtue that faith can exhibit to the virtues associated with art, as it is understood by R. G. Collingwood. This association is particularly apt, given the Midrashic description of God as an artist. All of this is offered in response to Rabbi Moses Nachmanides who argued (against other important commentaries) that Abraham’s faith, in Genesis 15:6, wasn’t worthy of particular praise.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)61-81
Number of pages21
JournalInternational Journal for Philosophy of Religion
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 1 Apr 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
I am grateful to Trent Dougherty, Daniel Howard-Snyder, and Jonathan Kvanvig, who first encouraged me to turn my attention to a systematic study of the nature and value of faith. I’m grateful to all of the participants at the summer seminar on the nature and value of faith, that took place in Bellingham Wa., in 2016. I’m grateful also to my students at The Drisha Institute for Jewish Studies, who spent the June of 2016 with me, learning Midrash and Jewish texts on the nature of faith—human and Divine. I’m grateful to Robert Hopkins and Robin Dembroff for allowing me to cite their unpublished work. I’m also grateful to my good and erudite friends, Alexander Douglas, Kent Dunnington and Naftali Goldberg who provided me, along with two very useful anonymous reviews, tremendously helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. This whole project took on a life of its own, only after a very encouraging discussion with Elisabeth Camp, to whom I extend warm thanks. Thanks are also due to the guest editors of this Journal, for all of their help. This research was made possible through the support of a grant from the Templeton Religion Trust. The opinions expressed in it are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Templeton Religion Trust.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Art
  • Divine emotions
  • Faith
  • Midrash
  • R. G. Collingwood

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy


Dive into the research topics of 'The life of faith as a work of art: a Rabbinic theology of faith'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this