Jean-Claude Milner’s Le sage trompeur (2013), a controversial recent piece of French Spinoza literature, remains regrettably understudied in the English-speaking world. Adopting Leo Strauss’ esoteric reading method, Milner alleges that Spinoza dissimulates his genuine analysis of the causes of the persecution and survival of the Jewish people within a brief “manifesto” found at the end of the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (TTP), Chapter 3. According to Milner, Spinoza holds that the Jewish people themselves are responsible for the hatred of the Jewish people, (...) and that the engine of their longevity is the hatred they engender. Additionally, claims Milner, Spinoza covertly insinuates that the solution to this persistent state of hatred consists in the mass apostasy of the Jewish people under the leadership of a Sabbatai Zevi-like figure. This article presents the Milner–Spinoza controversy to the English-speaking public along with the larger context of French-language scholarship on Spinoza’s relation to Judaism. While refuting Milner’s reading of Spinoza, I simultaneously clarify relevant elements of Spinoza’s discussions of Judaism in the TTP, such as Spinoza’s examination of Jewish identity and the nature of divine election, Spinoza’s understanding of the causes of national hatred, and Spinoza’s appeals to Portuguese, Spanish, Chinese, and Turkish political history. (shrink)
Over 700,000 copies of the original hardcover and paperback editions of this stunningly popular book have been sold. Karen Armstrong's superbly readable exploration of how the three dominant monotheistic religions of the world—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—have shaped and altered the conception of God is a tour de force. One of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, Armstrong traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present. From classical (...) philosophy and medieval mysticism to the Reformation, the Enlightenment, and the modern age of skepticism, Armstrong performs the near miracle of distilling the intellectual history of monotheism into one compelling volume. (shrink)
This article approaches Judaism through Rabbi Bradley S. Artson’s book, God of Becoming and Relationships: The Dynamic Nature of Process Theology. It explores his understanding of how Jewish theology should and does cohere with central features of both process theology and Robert S. Hartman’s formal axiology. These include the axiological/process concept of God, the intrinsic value and valuation of God and unique human beings, and Jewish extrinsic and systemic values, value combinations, and value rankings.
I write as a Jew who has come to see the Jewish and Christian religious movements as complementary, at least as each may be ideally envisioned. This complementarity does not entail the ‘supersession’ of Judaism or the negation of Judaism. It does not in any way imply that Jews should abandon Judaism. On the contrary, rightly seen it can lead to a greater affirmation of Judaism and of the teachings at Judaism's heart. In this article (...) I discuss the nature of this complementarity and argue that its recognition can help further and deepen the spiritual missions of both traditions. (shrink)
This review essay expands on two excellent collections dealing with Nietzsche and Wagner and is drawn from the proceedings of conferences in the bicentennial year of Wagner’s birth. It points to four areas underplayed in the contributions. The first involves Nietzsche’s adoption of Wagnerian ideology, especially anti-Judaism, in the late 1860s and early 1870s. The second deals with Nietzsche’s actual activities and sentiments regarding the inaugural Bayreuth festival in 1876 and his later reports of these activities and sentiments. A (...) third topic concerns the break from Wagner, its likely causes, and its stylization in Nietzsche’s recollections from the 1880s. And lastly the essay examines the ambivalence toward Wagner in Nietzsche’s writings from 1888 as part of an autobiographical imperative. In general, the collections reviewed place too much trust in Nietzsche’s own accounts of the relationship with Wagner and fail to recognize that, especially in the 1880s, the philosopher is engaged in a process of self-fashioning to bring his current views into harmony with a history embellished and manipulated to give the appearance of linear development and consistent beliefs. (shrink)
Hermann Cohen's Religion of Reason, Out of the Sources of Judaism is widely taken to be the greatest work in Jewish philosophy and religious thought since Maimonides' Guide to the Perplexed. It is at once a Jewish book and a philosophical one: Jewish because it takes its material from the literary tradition that extends from the bible to the rabbis to the great medieval philosophers; philosophical because it studies that material in order to construct a worldview that is rational (...) in the broadest sense of the term. This edition reprints a 1972 introduction by Leo Strauss and includes an essay on the work by Steven Schwarzchild. A new introduction by Kenneth R. Seeskin situates Cohen's masterwork in the history of modern philosophical and religious thought. (shrink)
This book is intended not only for scholars and students in humanities, history (esp. the history of ideas), Jewish studies, philosophy (esp. the history of philosophy), and Christian theology, but also for those concerned with the roots of anti-Semitism and with the need for toleration and intercultural pluralism. Modernity and the Final Aim of History: * Combines the development of German philosophy from the Enlightenment to Idealism, and from Idealism to the revolutionary turning-point of the mid-nineteenth century with the Jewish (...) question; * Shows the close entwining of anti-Jewish prejudices with awareness of the importance of Judaism in the formation of modern thought; * Points out the hopes, obstacles, compromises, and disappointments of Jewish emancipation right up to the appearance of racial anti-Semitism; * Traces the changes in the debate over Judaism from the theological perspective to the philosophical and from the philosophical to that of the economic and naturalistic; * Underlines the dangers to toleration that arise from seeing human history as directed towards a single aim; *Can be used in university courses and seminars, as well as in research groups. (shrink)
Across four decades of writing, Levinas repeatedly referred to the Holocaust as ‘the Passion of Israel at Auschwitz’. This deliberately Christological interpretation of the Holocaust raises questions about the respective roles of Judaism and Christianity in Levinas’ thought and seems at odds with his well-known view that suffering is ‘useless’. Basing my interpretation on the journals Levinas wrote as a prisoner of war and a radio talk he delivered in September 1945, I argue that his philosophical project is best (...) understood as an ontological rendering of Judaism that accounts for the opening or transcendence of sense and intelligibility. Judaism provides Levinas with a salient critique of liberal and idealist philosophies of the subject and an alternative to fundamental ontology. I show how Levinas’ account of the ‘Passion of Israel’ can be read within the exegetical history of Jewish accounts of divine suffering and thereby effects a reversal of the Christian typological gaze. I conclude by suggesting that Levinas’ recourse to Judaism as a philosophical category does not assume a dogmatic origin to philosophy but ‘formally indicates’, in the Heideggerian sense, the phenomenological origins of normativity. In this respect, the ‘Passion of Israel’ involves not only a reversal of the Christian typological gaze but also a deconstruction of Judaism. (shrink)
This article explores the implications of the prevalence of suicide attacks or 'martyrdom operations' in contemporary Islam. Historical and legal precedents from Islam and Christianity are adduced for the analysis and placed within the context of radical Islam.
What political, economic, religious, and emotional factors are involved in a person's decision to kill civilians and military personnel through the sacrifice of his or her own life? Data for this research were secondary analyses of interviews with Islamic martyrs, as well as their leaders’ speeches. This investigation into the cultural-psychological explanations for Islamic martyrdom leads to a model explaining a person's decision to carry out the mission as resulting from a combination of four factors: the historical-cultural context, group (...) processes, immediate and anticipated rewards, and mechanisms to eradicate possible doubts and guilt regarding this decision. Compared to existing models, this model is more integrative and focused on the psychological processes involved. (shrink)
This brilliant and engaging critical encounter between Jean-Francois Lyotard and Eberhard Gruber has as its focus a single punctuation mark-the hyphen connecting "Jew" and "Christian" in the expression "Judeo-Christian." While focusing on the nature, meaning, and function of this hyphen, the authors are able to analyze many of the essential differences between Judaism and Christianity, as well as the most significant historical and political consequences of these differences from the Roman Empire to the Shoah. Beginning with a reading of (...) the Letters of Paul, they contrast the Jewish and Christian positions on a variety of issues ranging from emancipation, history, sacrifice, incarnation, faith, law, and sexual difference to the value that is accorded reading, writing, and interpretation within these two traditions. (shrink)
In one of the essays in his recent book on Christianity, La déclosion (2005), Nancy discusses the relationship between Judaism and Christianity. Nancy opens this discussion with a reference to Lyotard’s book on this relationship: Un trait d’union (1993). Both Lyotard and Nancy examine a very early figure in the emergence of Christianity from Judaism—whereas Lyotard focuses on the epistles of Paul, Nancy reads the epistle of James. Lyotard concludes that the hyphen in the expression ‘Judeo-Christian’ actually conceals (...) ‘the most impenetrable abyss within Western thought’. With this abyss, Lyotard refers to the point of departure of Judaism: the event in which a Voice has left behind letters, inaugurating an interminable work of interpretation. For Nancy, however, it is rather Christianity, and therefore, Western culture, which is deconstructive in nature. Its composition is co-original with a decomposition, and therefore, with an openness. In James, Nancy finds an emphasis on praxis, in such a way that existence is to be understood as transcendent within itself. With this reading of James, Nancy seems to deny that there is a fundamental difference between Judaism and Christianity. In order to clarify the differences between Lyotard and Nancy, it is shown that, in Lyotard’s view, an unsublatable alterity comes with aisthèsis, whereas in Nancy’s view, alterity comes with existence as such. (shrink)
This paper attempts to analyze the place that Christianity occupies within the framework of Martin Buber’s thought and to present some of the arguments brought by Buber in order to support his conception regarding Christianity. There is a great number of books, articles and studies belonging to Buber that touch, on different levels, the topic proposed, nevertheless, the most significant for this paper is Buber’s book Two types of faith, intended as a comparative analysis of Judaism and Christianity. Buber’s (...) perception on Christianity is characterized by the dualistic perspective that defines his whole philosophy. The two paradigms that represent the basis of Buber’s entire thought (the world of Thou and the world of It) are to be found at the basis of “the duality of faith” he postulates. Thus, the analysis will be carried on two different levels, which, however sometimes share common elements. (shrink)
This article addresses Emmanuel Levinas's re-conceptualization of Jewish identity by examining his response to a question he himself poses: “In which sense do we need a Jewish science?” First, I attend to Levinas's critique of modern science of Judaism, particularly as it was understood in the critical approaches of the nineteenth-century school of thought, Wissenschaft des Judentums. Next, I detail Levinas's own constructive proposal that would, in his words, “enlarge the science of Judaism.” He retrieved classical textual sources (...) that modern Judaism had neglected, while at the same time he enlarged Judaism's relevance beyond a historical community by turning to phenomenology as a rigorous science. Finally, I conclude with some reflections on the broader implications of this new science of Judaism for Jewish ethics and identity in a post-war period. (shrink)
_ Source: _Volume 25, Issue 1, pp 36 - 58 This essay explores Martin Buber’s rendering of Jesus and the Ba‘al Shem Tov as two exemplars of religious anarchism that create a lens through which to see the symmetry between Judaism and Christianity. The essay argues that Buber’s use of Jesus to construct his view of the Ba‘al Shem Tov enables us to revisit the “parting of the ways” between Judaism and Christianity through the category of the religious (...) anarchist. (shrink)
What concept of Judaism is present in Schönberg’s philosophy of music? It is impossible to separate the musical texture from his experience of reconciliation with Judaism, and his new idea of musical drama is a confirmation that the dodecaphonic structure of musical thinking connects with Schönberg’s idea of the Jewish ethical and religious point of view. A comparative analysis of some essays with some operas shows the internal tie between music and Judaism in dodecaphony.
_ Source: _Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 232 - 255 In Book III of _The Star of Redemption_, Franz Rosenzweig contrasts Judaism and Christianity: Judaism consists in the eternal passage of a people from creation to revelation; it suspends the divide between God’s presence and his worldly manifestation. For Rosenzweig, being Jewish means to be with God in the world. Christianity, however, defers salvation. While Judaism is with God in the world, Christianity retreats from God and the (...) world. Christianity therefore has no “immediacy.” How can both Judaism and Christianity then live in immediacy with God in the world? Seeking to overcome Rosenzweig’s dichotomy, I endeavor to think an immediate relationship with God in the world by turning to one of Rosenzweig’s “biggest names”: Hermann Cohen. Following Cohen, I take it that Judeo-Christian continuity begins before both religions. I wish to explore the passage from the origin to the prophetic that constitutes the idea of a “pure monotheism” in Cohen’s philosophy. (shrink)
The novelty in Rosenzweig’s new ways of thinking lies in the fact that, unlike the traditional view, in his thought philosophy is the discipline containing a subjective element, whereas religion is more objective since it is founded on revelation. These complementary differences help the philosopher rethink Judaism and Jewish identity in the context of the spiritual crisis of the secularized Judaism of his time. Starting with the analysis of this reconstruction of philosophy, this text attempts to present a (...) balanced perspective on Rosenzweig’s vision of the relation between Judaism and Christianity. We will not single out the common elements or those that separate these two monotheist religions; setting Judaism and Christianity on the same level is considered to be a compensatory gesture towards Judaism and Jewish tradition. There is in Rosenzweig a significant moment of approach toward Christianity, especially to a Christianity without Christ, but Rosenzweig opts for a different solution, that of building a new philosophy based on Judaism. Moshe Idel’s analysis suggests that it is the Kabbalistic mysticism that Rosenzweig redefines in order to propose a new way of thought based on both philosophy and religion. Thus, Rosenzweig gives new meaning to the balance of divine and human in the field of religion. (shrink)
On 2 July 2000, Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust Martyrs and Heroes Remembrance Authority, deferred action on the petition to have Dietrich Bonhoeffer named a righteous gentile. My contention is that critics of this decision conceal a more pernicious difficulty that arises in Bonhoeffer's Lutheran legacy. David Nirenberg's recent Anti-Judaism: The Western Tradition, demonstrates the history and development of such categories with particular attention to Luther. What goes unnoticed is the ongoing operations of anti-Judaism in later theologians such as (...) Bonhoeffer. Although Bonhoeffer may not have been anti-Semitic, the degree to which his theology remained bound to centuries old anti-Judaism is another matter. (shrink)
In the region of Asia Minor and above all in Smyrna up to the third and fourth centuries the tension between Jews and Christians is palpable. In the Martyrdom of Polycarp and in the Martyrdom of Pionius, it is clear that the social ascendency of Judaism in Smyrna was exploited on various occasions until it became a co-protagonist in the persecution against the Christians. Despite the gradual separation and differentiation between Jews and Christians, both the New Testament (...) and subsequent Christian literature in Smyrna report that no self-understanding of Christianity in relation to its deepest roots escaped its necessary confrontation with Judaism. (shrink)
This article addresses Jacques Derrida's consideration of Judaism relating it to a need to understand international institutions and the notion of the universal in a new way. It also discusses Lyotard's and Hegel's accounts of Judaism.
The aim of this study is twofold. Firstly, it intends to highlight the value of constructivist insights for religious studies by showing that various forms of approach to issues related to religion are mere constructs. In contrast to this viewpoint, the discipline of religious studies had traditionally sought a higher degree of objectivity in the scientific reflection of religious topics, but that has been a fraught path. Secondly, the example it refers to is worthy in itself. The reception of (...) class='Hi'>Judaism in contemporary China is not only an under-investigated topic endowed with a great potential to reveal to what extent the Chinese ordinary man as well as the academic succeed to understand Western thought and to differentiate among the varied cultural traditions generally subsumed by them under the notion Western, but it also shows that the constructivist approaches preserve their validity in non-European contexts as well. Judaism’s reception in contemporary China will be pursued on four different levels: popular literature, fake books, articles in the Christian Chinese media and academic productions. The four categories of texts represent four different degrees of comprehension of the object of study, primarily offering information about the worldviews of the authors of the texts. The process of reception of thought is regarded as a form of encounter where the active part is striving to get out of its own mindset and move towards the other. (shrink)
This article presents the ethnographically driven multi-method research perspective of vernacular religion and analyses its potential to contribute to the theoretical advancement of Jewish studies. The ongoing discussion on religion and change within the study of religions in general and Jewish studies in particular is outlined and structured around three ‘turns’ identified in the research on vernacular religiosity. To exemplify these theoretical and methodological considerations, a recently initiated research project focusing on vernacular Judaism in Finland is presented. This project (...) seeks to examine central ideas of boundaries as they are negotiated and interpreted among Finnish Jewry, to compare the emerging patterns with Nordic counterparts and thus contribute to a more nuanced perception of Jewish identities in these contexts. The article concludes with a discussion on the advances of such an approach, pointing to the relative novelty of research into vernacular religion within Jewish studies and the exceptionality of the Finnish Jewish context. (shrink)
Faith in reason, reason in faith -- The nature of God, the God of nature -- Torah from heaven -- Divine providence -- The oral Torah and rabbinic tradition -- Religion and superstition -- Israel and humanity -- Conversion to Judaism -- Eternal Torah, changing times -- Faith and reason.
Thinking About Judaism: Philosophical Reflections on Jewish Thought examines the light shed by philosophy upon significant areas of Jewish life and academic studies, including Jewish history, Jewish ethics, Jewish law, and Jewish aesthetics. As the author clearly illustrates, the teachings of leading theorists on the subjects of general history, ethics, law, and aesthetics inspire us to think about corresponding subjects related to Judaica.
Emil Fackenheim’s life work was to call upon the world at large—and on philosophers, Christians, Jews, and Germans in particular—to confront the Holocaust as an unprecedented assault on the Jewish people, Judaism, and all humanity. In this memoir, to which he was making final revisions at the time of his death, Fackenheim looks back on his life, at the profound and painful circumstances that shaped him as a philosopher and a committed Jewish thinker. Interned for three months in the (...) Sachsenhausen concentration camp after Kristallnacht, Fackenheim was released and escaped to Scotland and then to Canada, where he lived in a refugee internment camp before eventually becoming a congregational rabbi and then, for thirty-five years, a professor of philosophy. He recalls here what it meant to be a German Jew in North America, the desperate need to respond to the crisis in Europe and to cope with its overwhelming implications for Jewish identity and community. His second great turning point came in 1967, as he saw Jews threatened with another Holocaust, this time in Israel. This crisis led him on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem and ultimately back to Germany, where he continued to grapple with the question, How can the Jewish faith—and the Christian faith—exist after the Holocaust? “An ‘epoch-making’ autobiography.”—Arnold Ages, _Jewish Tribune_. (shrink)
"Neusner moves beyond the interpretation of individual texts to grasp as wholes two systems of Judaism, that of the Mishnah and that represented by Rabbinic documents of the fifth century. He thus provides an entirely fresh approach and a new answer to the central question 'What is Judaism?' At the same time, by providing a sound model for the evaluation and comparison of diverse religious systems, this book has an important place within the study of the history of (...) religions in general."--Alan J. Avery-Peck, author of The Talmud of the Land of Israel: Shebiit An eminent scholar of the history of Judaism, Jacob Neusner shows in this work how Judaism changed from a philosophy to a religion between 200 and 400 C.E. The Transformation of Judaism is a work both revolutionary in its method and unprecedented in its results. Comparing earlier and later sets of Judaic writings, Neusner sets forth how philosophy--abstract, elegant, orderly, and intellectual--turned into religion--tangible, down-to-earth, chaotic, and concrete. In the process, he offers an account of the birth of Judaism that has become normative. Moreover, Neusner's methodology can be applied to the study of religions other than Judaism because it examines the underpinnings of how a society sees the world (philosophy), orders itself (politics), and sustains itself (economics). "This prolific author provides in this book yet another of his clear and scholarly explorations into the nature of Judaism... Scholarly detail does not preclude clarity of style and more general reflection on the character of religion in relation to other modes of thought."--Peter Byrne, Religious Studies. (shrink)
The purpose of Judaism -- The Exodus-Sinai continuum of Jewish life -- Genesis : Abraham and "the call" -- Exodus : embracing the covenant -- Leviticus : roadmap to a more perfect world -- Numbers : from wilderness to prophecy -- Deuteronomy : how central is God? -- Sinai applied : seven core values of the rabbinic tradition -- The American Jewish community and the public square -- Jews and the struggle for civil rights -- Soviet Jewry : a (...) cause of our own -- Protecting and defending the state of Israel -- What is a Jewish issue? -- Beyond self-interest -- Social justice takes root -- Reconciling Exodus and Sinai -- Conclusion : responding to "the call". (shrink)
Franz Rosenzweig is widely regarded today as one of the most original and intellectually challenging figures within the so-called renaissance of German-Jewish thought in the Weimar period. The architect of a unique kind of existential theology, and an important influence upon such philosophers as Walter Benjamin, Martin Buber, Leo Strauss, and Emmanuel Levinas, Rosenzweig is remembered chiefly as a "Jewish thinker," often to the neglect of his broader philosophical concerns. Cutting across the artificial divide that the traumatic memory of National (...) Socialism has drawn between German and Jewish philosophy, this book seeks to restore Rosenzweig's thought to the German philosophical horizon in which it first took shape. It is the first English-language study to explore Rosenzweig's enduring debt to Hegel's political theory, neo-Kantianism, and life-philosophy; the book also provides a new, systematic reading of Rosenzweig's major work, _The Star of Redemption._ Most of all, the book sets out to explore a surprising but deep affinity between Rosenzweig’s thought and that of his contemporary, the German philosopher Martin Heidegger. Resisting both apologetics and condemnation, Gordon suggests that Heidegger’s engagement with Nazism should not obscure the profound and intellectually compelling bond in the once-shared tradition of modern German and Jewish thought. A remarkably lucid discussion of two notably difficult thinkers, this book represents an eloquent attempt to bridge the forced distinction between modern Jewish thought and the history of modern German philosophy—and to show that such a distinction cannot be sustained without doing violence to both. (shrink)
Theorizing resistance -- Hellenistic rule in Judea : setting the stage for resistance -- Interaction and identity in Seleucid Judea : 188-173 BCE 78 -- Recreating the empire : the sixth Syrian war, Jason's revolt, and the reconquest of Jerusalem -- Seleucid state terror -- The edict of Antiochus : persecution and the unmaking of the Judean world -- Daniel -- Enochic authority -- The apocalypse of weeks : witness and transformation -- The book of dreams : see and cry (...) out. (shrink)