Naphtali Levy’s Divine World: Jewish Tradition, Panentheism and Darwinism

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A distinctive feature of many Jewish approaches to evolutionary theory has been a panentheistic understanding of the cosmos. Among the earliest Hebrew translations of Darwin are those found in Toldot Adam or The Origin of Man (1874) by the Polish Jewish Naphtali Levy (1840–1894). Often regarded as a traditionalist who sought to harmonize science and Torah, Levy was in fact much more radical and was prepared to prioritise evolutionary science over tradition. Remarkably, God was portrayed as an impersonal natural force, morality was conceived as the result of the “struggle for existence,” and the bestial origins of humanity were privileged over special creation in the image of God.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)438-456
Number of pages19
JournalTheology and Science
Issue number3
Early online date7 Jul 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 7 Jul 2023


  • Darwinism
  • Judaism
  • Naphtali Levy
  • evolution
  • panentheism
  • pantheism


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