Philosophical and Theological Writings

Philosophical and Theological Writings

Philosophical and Theological Writings

Philosophical and Theological Writings

Synopsis

This volume brings together Rosenzweig's central essays on theology and philosophy, including two works available for the first time in English: the conclusion to Rosenzweig's book Hegel and the State, and Rosenweig's famous letter to Rudolph Ehrenberg known as the 'Urzelle of the Star of Redemption', an essential work for understanding Rosenweig, Weimar theology and philosophy, and German idealism and the existential reaction of the period. Additional selections are presented in new or revised translations. Introduction and notes by Franks and Morgan set Rosenzweig's works in context and illuminates his role as one of the key thinkers of the period.

Excerpt

This small volume is intended to contribute to the recent renewed interest in the writings and thinking of Franz Rosenzweig. When Rosenzweig was imported to the North American continent in the postwar period, it was by German Jewish intellectuals involved in the study of Judaism and in Jewish theological reflection. Through the 1950s and into the 1960s, Rosenzweig was a centerpiece of Jewish theological thinking, largely along with Martin Buber as the source of a view of revelation and the divine-human encounter that seemed to be situated somewhere within the existential tradition. This view of revelation was available as part of a recovery of Biblical faith and could be used to confront the scientific orientation of American culture and the challenges of religious naturalism, which primarily arose within Jewish circles with the Reconstructionism of Mordecai Kaplan. From the late 1960s through the 1980s, Rosenzweig's star was on the wane. Revelation and faith, as central theological and theoretical notions, gave way to much more historical and often political thinking. To be sure, someone like Emil Fackenheim, whose work is deeply influenced by Rosenzweig, never failed to acknowledge his indebtedness and mark the importance of Rosenzweig, but overall his prominence among Jewish thinkers had diminished, and beyond that circle he was barely known.

That situation has changed dramatically. The emergence of the movement we now call [postmodernism] with all its dimensions and strands has brought with it a renewed interest in otherness and difference, history and memory, and the notion of the messianic. And this movement has brought with it a greater interest in Heidegger and all those who followed him—Gadamer in Germany and Foucault, Derrida, Levinas, and many others in France—and with issues that concern the political and the religious. All of this has touched religious thinking, to be sure, but its greatest impact is much broader.

Postmodern concerns, strategies, and themes permeate general culture, literature, art, music, film, and almost all academic disciplines, and the key figures hence have become part of the general cultural and intellectual world. In this context, Rosenzweig has emerged as a figure . . .

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