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Howard Wettstein

Howard Wettstein is Professor of Philosophy at University of California, Riverside. His central research interests are in the philosophy of religion and the philosophy of language. He has taught at University of Notre Dame and the University of Minnesota, Morris, and held visiting positions at Stanford University and the University of Iowa. He is the editor of “Midwest Studies in Philosophy,” and has edited several books and collections including “Diasporas and Exiles: Varieties of Jewish Identity” (University of California Press, 2002). In 2004, Oxford University Press published his book “The Magic Prism: An Essay in the Philosophy of Language.” During the past decade, Howard has been focused on Jewish thought and has published papers on such topics as awe, doctrine, exile, the problem of evil, religious experience, and forgiveness. He is currently at work on a new book in the philosophy of religion. He is married to Dr. Barbara Wettstein, a clinical psychologist, and has two children and an adorable grandson. In a former life, Wettstein studied to be an Orthodox rabbi.

Making Peace With God: The Strange Story of Job

Text and Thought

Why do terrible things happen to good people? And how might God, who is presumably responsible, be a source of deep comfort? The Book of Job is one of the Bible’s most revolutionary books, often on the edge of heresy. God thinks of Job as the most righteous among people. This claim is challenged by “The Accuser,” a sort of heavenly investigator, who suggests that Job’s piety needs testing. God agrees, and what follows is nothing less than a nightmare, the death of Job’s innocent children, the loss of his health, wealth, and marriage.

Talmudic Time Travel

Text and Thought

When Moses ascends on Mt. Sinai, he sees God inscribing a Torah scroll by hand. A conversation ensues about what God is doing that leads to time travel -- Moses travels to Talmudic times and becomes a fly on the wall, as it were, in Rabbi Akiva's study hall. The story is captivating, and it leads to ethical and psychological insights, to dark visions of Rabbi Akiva's martyred end, to Moses questioning God, and to God's astounding and touching response. There is even the suggestion of a new way of thinking about God, a new role for God in our religious thinking and feeling.