To the Editor:
I appreciate Jon D. Levenson’s many positive and perceptive comments about my book, The God I Believe In (conversations about Judaism with fourteen eminent Jews) [Books in Review, May] and wish to correct not matters of opinion but several misleading statements, such as the comment that the book exhibits a “tendency to read like a questionnaire rather than a set of sustained theological inquiries accessible to laymen.” The fact is that to keep the conversations focused on the issues of faith dealt with in the book, it was of course necessary to raise many questions which prompted the interviewees to clarify their beliefs, but the text has no resemblance whatever to a questionnaire. It is precisely what the subtitle says, a book of conversations or dialogues about Judaism.
Mr. Levenson, moreover, regrets that “implications are seldom drawn out. Haberman is continually hurrying to the next question on his check list.” The reference to a check list is a fantasy of the reviewer. All conversations were completely spontaneous. The interviewees and I faced each other without any notes whatever, ready to let the conversation flow wherever it might. As the reader may readily see, each interview is marked by a different emphasis according to the person’s deepest convictions or attempt to cope with doubts. The “sustained theological inquiries” for which Mr. Levenson is looking may be found in every interview, though not to the point of an “anthology of essays,” which Mr. Levenson would prefer to the conversational format.
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