Marc B. Shapiro
Marc B. Shapiro (Hebrew: מלך שפירא, born 1966) is a professor and the author of various books and articles on Jewish history, philosophy, theology, and rabbinic literature.
Education and Career
Shapiro received his BA at Brandeis University and his PhD at Harvard University, where he was the last PhD student of Professor Isadore Twersky. He received rabbinical ordination from Rabbi Ephraim Greenblatt. Shapiro's father is Edward S. Shapiro, who has published books on American history and American Jewish history.
Shapiro holds the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Chair in Judaic Studies at the University of Scranton. Shapiro is an on-line lecturer for Torah in Motion, for which he also leads Jewish history tours to Europe and Morocco. He often writes for the Seforim Blog.
Shapiro's writings often challenge the bounds of the conventional Orthodox understanding of Judaism using academic methodology while adhering to Modern Orthodox sensibilities. His book, Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy, a biography of Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, was a National Jewish Book Award finalist. His second book, The Limits of Orthodox Theology, also a National Jewish Book Award finalist, argued against the conventional Orthodox belief that Maimonides Thirteen Principles of Faith are unquestionable dogma. Gidon Rothstein, writing in the Association for Jewish Studies Review, called the book's collection of sources "remarkable."
The book was criticized by some Hareidi Jews. Zev Leff, an American Hareidi rabbi, wrote that "I cannot recommend it to the general public, who can be easily misled by some of the questionable theses in this book."
In 2015, his book Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History was released. The book documents the phenomenon of internal censorship in Orthodoxy. Adam Ferziger said the book "is the outstanding product of a master of rabbinic literature and an extraordinarily sharp-eyed and meticulous scholar." Yair Hoffman, writing in the Hareidi online website Yeshiva World News, criticized the book, saying that "there is a plethora of material that simply should not have been included in the book because it does not back up his thesis." Ezra Glinter, writing in The Forward, praised Shapiro's "evenhanded, evidence-heavy approach" and that he was not a "polemicist," but said "his argument could also have benefited from a more critical thrust."
Books and Articles
- Between the Yeshiva World and Modern Orthodoxy: The Life and Works of Rabbi Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, 1884-1966 (London, 1999)
- Collected Writings of R. Jehiel Jacob Weinberg, 2 Volumes (Scranton, 1998, 2003)
- The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised (Oxford, 2004)
- Saul Lieberman and the Orthodox (Scranton, 2006)
- Studies in Maimonides and His Interpreters (Scranton, 2008)
- Changing the Immutable: How Orthodox Judaism Rewrites Its History (Oxford, 2015)
- Shapiro posts at the Seforim Blog
- Ginsberg, Johanna. "Local scholar organizes conference on history of Modern Orthodoxy", New Jersey Jewish News, June 1, 2006. Accessed June 28, 2018. "A West Orange scholar is the co-organizer of the first-ever conference in America on the history of Modern Orthodoxy, to be held June 13–15 in Scranton, Pa. Marc B. Shapiro, who holds the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of Scranton, said the conference will take a historical view of the movement in order to explore its meaning for today."
- "Author Challenges Rambam's Principles". The Forward. Retrieved 2017-02-26.
- Rothstein, Gidon (2005-04-01). "Marc B. Shapiro. The Limits of Orthodox Theology: Maimonides' Thirteen Principles Reappraised. The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. 221 pp". AJS Review. 29 (1): 169–171. doi:10.1017/S0364009405260099. ISSN 1475-4541.
- "Book Review: Marc Shapiro's "Changing the Immutable"". Retrieved 2017-02-26.
- Glinter, Ezra (2015-07-13). "Orthodoxy's Inconvenient Truths". The Forward. Retrieved 2017-03-05.