Intersecting Pathways: Modern Jewish Theologians in Conversation with Christianity

By Marc A. Krell | Go to book overview

2
Hans Joachim Schoeps's
“Critical-Protestant” Theology

A Jewish-Christian Amalgamation

Like his older contemporary Rosenzweig, the German Jewish theologian Hans Joachim Schoeps constructed a systematic Jewish theology in conversation with Christianity that was supposed to preserve Jewish uniqueness while at the same time recognizing its contiguity with German, Christian culture. Similar to Rosenzweig, Schoeps grew up in an assimilated Jewish home yet later rebelled against bourgeois Jewish liberalism, arguing that it had changed Judaism from a theocentric religion into a historical, anthropological discipline. He disagreed with the effort to make God into a projection of either natural-cosmic forces or ethical-political ideals by historicizing revelation. 1 Moreover, like Rosenzweig, Schoeps constructed a theological response to this religious dilemma out of a cultural discourse shaped to some extent by the early writings of the Protestant thinker Karl Barth. Additionally, in his attempt to recover faith in a transcendent God, Schoeps also became attracted to the theological writings of Martin Luther as interpreted by the Lutheran scholar Karl Holl.

Using Lutheran and early Barthian lenses, Schoeps viewed both Jews and Christians as having fallen away from God in sin through secularization and historicization of religion. He charged that they had forgotten that faith in God cannot be proven rationally but rather is “dialectically determinable as having and at the same time not-having, as knowledge and equally non-knowledge.” 2 Therefore, Jews and Christians must realize their creaturely status and decide to respond to the divine command through faith in an irrational, unmediated revelation. 3 Whereas Rosenzweig would eventually

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