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The Jewish Study Bible Contextualizes the Hebrew Bible with accompanying scholarly text on Jewish traditions and history.

Modern Jewish Philosophy

Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786) captures the transition from premodern to modern philosophy. Although he was a staunch advocate of Jewish emancipation and a proponent of the Jewish Enlightenment (Haskalah), Mendelssohn remained deeply committed to traditional Jewish life. At the same time, he also socialized with the leading intellectuals in Germany, who regarded him as spokesman of the German Enlightenment. Mendelssohn's views were shaped by German philosophers such as Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646– 1716), Christian Wolff (1679–1754), and Gothold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781) no less than by Maimonides and Spinoza.

Endorsing the Enlightenment concept of natural religion, Mendelssohn maintained that reason alone can prove that God exists, that God governs the universe through providence, and that the human soul is immortal. These three universal propositions are accessible to the human mind without a special revelation from God. In contrast to Jewish medieval philosophers, Mendelssohn held that revelation does not disclose any ideas that cannot be discovered by human reason. In terms of truth, there is only one source (viz. reason) rather than two (viz. reason and revelation). If natural religion requires no additional revelation, what then is Judaism? Mendelssohn answers that Judaism is not a revealed religion but a “revealed legislation.” At Sinai God did not reveal any truths or doctrines, but only laws. Prior to the Sinaitic event, the ancient Israelites already reached a level of intellectual development resulting inthe knowledge of three pillars of natural religion. What distinguishes Jews from nonvJews is not religion, which is common to all humans endowed with reason, but a specific legislation obligatory to Jews only. The revealed legislation charts the particular path that Israel alone must follow in order to attain the felicity to which all human beings aspire. And since the laws were revealed by God rather than discovered by humans, they could neither be changed nor abrogated. In Mendelssohn's mind, loyalty to the laws of Judaism was fully compatible with the rationalist universalism of the Enlightenment.

The Bible stood at the center of Mendelssohn's attempts to modernize the Jews and prepare them for integration into European society. He translated parts of the Bible into German but printed the translation in Hebrew characters in order to make it accessible to Yiddish‐speaking Jews whom he wished to wean away from the language that symbolized Jewish cultural backwardness. In additional to the translation of the Bible, Mendelssohn composed and edited commentaries in Hebrew in order to offer Jews an alternative to Protestant biblical commentaries. Like his medieval predecessors, Mendelssohn began his exegetical endeavor by composing a commentary on Ecclesiastes (1768–1769), but in contrast to them Mendelssohn saw Ecclesiastes in a philosophical light that attributed its skepticism to imagined conversation partners. On the basis of medieval commentaries, especially by Rashi, Radak, and Abraham Ibn Ezra, Mendelssohn focused on the literal meaning of the biblical text and on the accent marks of the Masoretic Text in order to clarify Ecclesiastes’ philosophical stance. Ecclesiastes, Mendelssohn argued, taught no theoretical knowledge but only practical knowledge conducive to moral improvement and in accord with contemporary science. Nonetheless, Mendelssohn still defended the traditional Jewish view that King Solomon was the author of Ecclesiastes and perpetuated the notion that the ancient king was the source of all known sciences. Hence, there is no surprise that even Harvey's theory of blood circulation (1628) is alluded to, according to Mendelssohn, in Eccl. 12.6 : “Before the silver cord snaps and the golden bowl crashes, the jar is shattered at the spring and the jug is smashed at the cistern” (David Sorkin, Moses Mendelssohn and the Religion of Enlightenment [Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1996], p. 43 ). While few Jews paid attention to Mendelssohn's commentary on Ecclesiastes, German biblical scholars translated it into German and published it in 1771.

During the 1770s Mendelssohn worked on the German translation of the Psalms, which he regarded as a seminal biblical text for moral and spiritual edification. Familiar with the aesthetic theories of the 18th century, Mendelssohn considered the Psalms the highest exemplar of the sublime and believed that the Psalms illustrate how theology and aesthetics are intertwined. He translated the Psalms into German in order to show the glory of Hebrew lyric poetry alongside classical and Nordic poetry and also in order to replace existing German translations of the Psalms, especially Luther's, even though Mendelssohn held that translation in great esteem and retained some of its most elegant parts. The translation of the Psalms was published in 1785 and was well received by Jews throughout Europe.

The crown of Mendelssohn's biblical studies and educational activities was the translation of the Torah into German with an accompanying Hebrew commentary (known as Biʾur, 1780–1783). With the help of the grammarian Solomon Dubno (1738–1813), Mendelssohn focused on the literal meaning of the text (peshat), often relying on the commentary of Abraham Ibn Ezra, in an attempt to respond to the challenges of contemporary biblical criticism. While Mendelssohn considered the literal meaning to be primary, he still defended the legitimacy of rabbinic homiletical exegesis (derash). Mendelssohn's translation and commentaries on the Torah was a true group effort. Dubno departed from the projectbefore completing the assigned commentary on Genesis, but other Jewish Enlightenment figures joined it. Naphtali Hertz Wessley (1725–1805) wrote the commentary on Leviticus, and Hertz Homberg (1749–1841) and Aaron Jaroslav commented on Numbers and Deuteronomy. When the five volumes were reissued as one volume, under the title Sefer Netivot ha‐Shalom (The Book of the Paths of Peace), Mendelssohn composed a new introduction, titled ʾOr Netivah (Light for the Path), spelling out the principles of the entire enterprise.

According to Mendelssohn the Bible is not about revealed truth but about “trust and faith that result in Israel's obedience through the Commandments, which are the preeminent form of practical knowledge” (Sorkin, p. 55 ). Since Mendelssohn understood the Bible as a record of the unique covenantal relationship between God and Israel, his views were closer to Judah Halevi's than to Maimonides's. With Halevi, Mendelssohn held that Sinai was a historical, collective event in which Moses directly heard God's speech and wrote it down. Contrary to Maimonides, Mendelssohn regarded the Hebrew language not as a conventional human language but as a divine language. Even the accents of the Masoretic texts, said Mendelssohn, have a divine source. Moses could transmit divine communication to Joshua so accurately because of the unique features of the Hebrew language: It is the only language whose written form retains the oral nature of all languages. The task of the translator and commentator is to capture the sense of the text, and Mendelssohn took as his model the ancient Aramaic translator of the Bible, Onkelos, regarded as authoritative by the rabbinic tradition. The emphasis on the unique orality of the biblical text was Mendelssohn's best proof against the Documentary Hypothesis, which was based on the lateness of the Masoretic Text. In Mendelssohn's view the oral tradition preserved the way God had spoken, which Moses duly recorded. Mendelssohn was not oblivious to the historical study of the Bible, but he believed that it could only help establish the traditional Jewish faith.

Mendelssohn's idiosyncratic blend of Jewish traditionalism and Enlightenment rationalism was difficult to perpetuate to the next generation. Traditional Jews, suspicious of the Emancipation and its perils, were critical of his biblical translation and commentaries; and the more radical disciples who desired full integration into German culture found his observance of Jewish law a hindrance to their goal. Even Mendelssohn's own children failed to reconcile the two worlds of their father; all but one of his six children converted to Christianity. Ironically, Christian contemporaries of Mendelssohn understood his claim that Judaism is a revealed legislation to mean that Judaism is a legalistic, obsolete fossil of an ancient era, a ceremonial law that has no vitality. This view was accepted by Immanuel Kant and through him became commonplace among German intellectuals of the 19th century.

For Jews in Germany and Central Europe, the 19th century consisted of the relentless struggle to gain civil rights and social acceptance, the rise of Wissenschaft des Judentums (the scientific study of Judaism), and the drive to reform Judaism from within. Whereas the emancipation of the Jews was possible because of the French Revolution, the defeats of Napoleon rolled the process back as anti‐Jewish fulminations swept through Germany. The violence against Jews in Bavaria during the Hep!Hep! riots of 1819 accentuated Jewish insecurity and manifested the unwillingness of German society to see Jews as equals. In response, a group of Jewish scholars convened in Berlin in November 1819 to found the Society (Verein) for the Culture and Scientific Study of the Jews. Its agenda was to examine the entire records of the Jewish past—biblical and rabbinic—from a scientific perspective and aided with new tools of contemporary science, especially history and philology. The members of the society had different interests and agendas: Some wished to show how Judaism contributed to Western civilization, in order to securea position in German academia, while others were mostly interested in ameliorating the situation of the Jews and improving Jewish education. Still others were primarily concerned with determining what is subject to change in Judaism, and hence obsolete, as opposed to the eternal essence of Judaism that is not subject to change. Although their research into the Jewish past was of highest academic quality, it did not lead to university posts. In frustration, the Jewish scholars created their own institutions of higher learning, that is, rabbinical seminaries in which Jewish students studied the entire gamut of Jewish literary heritage scientifically and objectively.

The critical stance of Wissenschaft des Judentums scholarship was mainly directed toward postbiblical Judaism, but the Bible could not remain immune to it. In 1810 a student of Mendelssohn, Yehuda Leib ben Zeʾev, published his Mavoʾ ʾel Mikraʾey Kodesh (Introduction to Holy Scriptures), which was modeled after J. C. Eichhorn's study by the same title, in which he established the composite nature of the book of Isaiah, among other critical observations. Leopold Zunz (1794–1886) in his The Religious Teachings of the Jews, Historically Developed (Die gottesdienstlichen Vortraege der Juden, historisch entwickelt [1832]) advanced daring new theses regarding the books of Chronicles and the Psalter. Isaac Samuel Reggio (1784–1855) and Shlomo Yehudah Rapoport (1790–1867) also advanced critical theses regarding Isaiah and Psalms. What was commonplace among Protestant biblical critics of the 19th century was beginning to make inroads in Jewish scholarship. A new Jewish philosophy was needed to integrate contemporary historical research into a new schema. It was provided by Nachman Krochmal (1785–1840).

Krochmal was the first modern Jewish philosopher to make not only the Jewish religion but also the Jewish people a subject for philosophic investigation, thereby providing a philosophic explanation of Jewish history. His philosophic model was Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel (1770–1831), though he was also deeply influenced by Giambattista Vico (1668–1744), Johan Gottfried Herder (1744–1803), and the German Idealists, Friedrich von Schlegel (1772–1829) and Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling (1775–1854). No less central to Krochmal's reinterpretation of Judaism were the views of Maimonides, Ibn Ezra, Spinoza, and Mendelssohn, as well as the teachings of kabbalah. Krochmal's Moreh Nevukhei Ha‐Zeman (The Guide for the Perplexed of This Time) was written in 1840 and published posthumously in 1851, edited by Leopold Zunz. The title, a play on Maimonides’ great work, was no accident: Krochmal wished to accomplish for the Jews of his generation what Maimonides did for his contemporaries: a comprehensive reconciliation of Judaism with the reigning philosophy. Since the Aristotelianism of Maimonides was now obsolete, and Maimonides’ emphasis on God's radical otherness was religiously unsatisfying, a reconceptualization of Judaism in terms of the reigning Idealist philosophy was now in order. The Neoplatonic ontology of Ibn Ezra's philosophy and the teachings of kabbalah served Krochmal to prove that Judaism is a metaphysical system that is not only compatible with German Idealism, but that Judaism is the most refined expression of the Absolute Spirit.

Writing in Hebrew to the proponents of Jewish Enlightenment in Galicia, Bohemia, Moravia, and Italy, who were disoriented by modernity but who had not lost their Jewish commitment, Krochmal introduced the post‐Kantian understanding of the relationship between religion and philosophy. For Krochmal “religion and philosophy are essentially identical, in that both represent processes of speculation, which are equal in their apprehension of truth” (Jay M. Harris, Nachman Krochmal: Guiding the Perplexed of the Modern Ages [New York: New York University Press, 1991], p. 26 ). But whereas philosophy conceives of Spirit in the form of concepts, religion does so through representations (Vorstellungen). The representation is a form of consciousness higher than that of sensation and observationbut lower than that of concept. The representations of religion (i.e., the metaphors and symbols) “are not expressions of poetic genius and creativity; rather, they are rooted in the universal mind—the essence of human spirituality—and therefore virtually all metaphors are equivalent in many different languages” (Harris, p. 27 ). Krochmal's view of prophetic activity would thus place him between Maimonides and Spinoza. While agreeing with Maimonides that there is a relationship between theology and truth, Krochmal also was in agreement with Spinoza that prophets and theologians cannot be considered philosophers.

For Krochmal, who defined religion as the belief in spiritual powers, biblical religion is the highest form of religion; it contains the same faith in the Absolute Spirit which is present in the ultimate truth of philosophy. Krochmal's biblical studies and his philosophy of history were to document this claim. Krochmal was fully aware that much of biblical criticism was at odds with prevailing Jewish traditional ideas, but he believed that proper understanding of the Bible and postbiblical history could show both the continuity of Jewish faith and its evolution over time. With detailed knowledge of rabbinic Jewish exegesis and modern biblical criticism, Krochmal was intent to prove that the Rabbis in fact shared the assumptions of the modern critics. Thus in regard to the book of Isaiah, Krochmal argues that the Rabbis themselves were aware of the composite nature of the book and its rather late date of composition. To his satisfaction, he manages to prove that critical conclusions about Isaiah are compatible with traditional sensibilities.

Similarly, Krochmal uses the rabbinic debate about the doubtful sanctity of Ecclesiastes (m. Yad. 3:5) to prove that “wisdom, and especially Solomon's wisdom, is acknowledged to be a gift from God, and therefore the Rabbis could not have denigrated Qohelet [Ecclesiastes] for being simply a product of Solomon's mind, for this would, in fact, confer upon it sufficient status to be worthy of canonization” (Harris, p. 176 ). The very fact that the Rabbis debated it proved to him that they entertained the possibility that the book was not authored by Solomon but by a later author. The Rabbis, Krochmal maintains, were equally aware of the late date of composition of some of the psalms, even as late as 2nd century BCE, notwithstanding the fact that the tradition ascribed them to King David. Traditional Jews, then, should not ignore contemporary biblical scholarship but rather incorporate it into their own understanding of the tradition since it is in many ways consonant with earlier traditions. Krochmal believed that contemporary modern biblical scholarship proves his philosophy of history: Jewish creativity and vitality is eternal and ever‐evolving. Unlike any other nation that exhibits the finite cycle of growth, maturation, and disintegration, the Jewish people is eternal. Due to its special relationship with God, the Absolute Spirit, the Jewish people repeatedly renews its national life, manifesting the eternal Absolute Spirit.

Whereas Krochmal articulated a Jewish philosophy that addressed the perplexity of East European Enlightened Jews who wished to remain loyal to Judaism, in Germany the dominant secular philosopher who shaped Jewish thinking was not Hegel and other Idealist philosophers, but Immanuel Kant (1724–1804). His claim that human beings are in principle unable to have certain knowledge about God, the soul, and the origin of the universe was intended not to abolish faith, but to make room for it. For Kant, faith was rational, an apprehension of the greatest good and striving toward it. Although Kant denied the possibility of metaphysics and limited the scope of theoretical, demonstrative knowledge to the phenomenal world of sense perception, he did not deny the existence of God. Indeed, reason must postulate the existence of God, but the “only content we can ascribe to our idea of God is moral.” God is not the giver of the moral law but the “necessary condition for the possibility of the summum bonum,” i.e., for the “distribution of happiness in exactproportion to morality” (Critique of Practical Reason, trans. Beck [1956], p. 129 ). The existence of God is postulated in order to fulfill a fundamental requirement of the moral law, namely, that the virtuous man is worthy of happiness. True religion, in contrast to clericalism, is, therefore, an ethical religion in which the kingdom of God is nothing else than the ethical commonwealth: “If God is to be found at all, it is not behind nature but behind moral law” (Kenneth Seeskin, Jewish Philosophy in a Secular Age [Albany: State University of New York Press, 1990], p. 58 ). So long as we think about God as a moral agent, we cannot be accused of anthropomorphism, since morality has no empirical content. God cannot do otherwise than act as is morally required. Yet Kant also showed that historical religion did not develop in ignorance of the moral law. He wants to claim that actual religions have in one way or another approached the ideal of the pure founded on a universal conception of humanity and a commitment to its moral improvement. Unless actual religion approached this ideal it would be impossible for Kant to argue that it is engraved on each of our hearts. Not surprisingly, Kant's depiction of Judaism was anything but complimentary. Following Spinoza and Mendelssohn, Kant viewed Judaism as a mere national‐political entity, contending that it fails to satisfy the essential criteria of religion in that it fails to inculcate the appropriate inner morals, demanding only external obedience to statutes and law. Judaism, Kant said in accord with traditional Christian perception, is concerned only with things of this world and lacks any formulation of the concept of immortality.

Kant's philosophic formulation of religion accorded with the orientation of modern liberal Judaism. Seeking to distill the essence of Judaism that remained constant throughout the process of change over time, Reform theologians defined the essence of Judaism as ethical monotheism. Kant's understanding of the moral law as rational self‐legislation was believed to be totally congruent with the biblical emphasis on “duty” and “right.” The Jewish followers of Kant reinterpreted Judaism in such a way that it would conform to Kant's formulation of religion, while at the same time rejecting Kant's critique of Judaism.

Hermann Cohen (1842–1918), the towering Jewish philosopher of the late 19th century, was able to show how a Neo‐Kantian reading of Judaism leads to universalizing the revealed message of the Bible. Benefiting from the final success of the Emancipation in Germany, Cohen held a regular academic post at the University of Marburg, reformulating the principles of Kantian philosophy. While rethinking Kant during the 1870s, Cohen also witnessed the rise of modern anti‐Semitism as a backlash to the Emancipation. In his A Public Declaration Concerning the Jewish Question (Ein Bekenntnis zur Judenfrage [1880]), Cohen called for the total integration of German Jewry into German society, but while calling Jews to take their religion seriously. Cohen got involved in a public defense of Judaism against anti‐Semitic charges that according to the Talmud the laws of the Torah apply only to Jews and not to relations between Jews and Christians. He rejected this reading and published his view that Israel's chosenness by God from the outset had universal scope: Since God is the one who loves the stranger, Israel is chosen as a mission to mankind.

Cohen did not write a commentary on the Bible, but his main exposition of Jewish philosophy—Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism—takes most of its data from the Bible. Rejecting Kant's portrayal of Judaism, Cohen argued that when properly understood “the ancient sources and their received interpretation are much closer to a morally pure faith than Kant thought” (Seeskin, Jewish Philosophy, p. 160 ). Cohen does not say that Judaism is the religion of reason, but rather that the ideas of a purely rational faith can be found in Jewish sources, first among them the Bible. At the University of Marburg, Cohen's colleagues included Julius Wellhausen, the most important biblical scholar of the time. Cohen's reformulation of biblical religion could be viewed as an attempt to reject someof the claims of Wellhausen and his followers. Cohen's religion is strictly ethical religion or religion of ethics. Morality is an infinite task of self‐sanctification, precisely as Lev. 11.44 (“For I the LORD am your God: you shall sanctify yourselves and be holy, for I am holy”) teaches. For Cohen, however, the laws of ancient Israel are of universal scope. Precisely because there is only one God, there can be only one law applicable to all people who share a common dignity (Lev. 19.34; 24.22 ). The social legislation of the Bible is not restricted to Jews only but applies to the “stranger,” namely to all humans. Cohen interpreted the command to love the stranger along the lines of Kantian philosophy: It is not a commandment forced on us by a supernatural being but a duty that we in our better moments would impose on ourselves. The Bible itself, especially the book of Deuteronomy, spells out the need to bridge the gap between what is and what ought to be.

Following a Protestant model, in the teachings of prophets Cohen found the most refined expression of the relationship between humanity and God. The prophets made pity and sympathy for others the cornerstone of their moral teachings. Through empathy with the suffering of my neighbor I am able to encounter the person as a Thou rather than merely as an instance of humanity. The main challenge to humanity is not impending death but the experience of poverty, about which the prophets were deeply concerned (Cohen, Religion of Reason, tr. Kaplan [New York, 1972], pp. 135–136 ). Ethics, then, needs the idea of a perfect being to guarantee that our effort to perfect the world has some hope of succeeding. God does not only sustain the world but shows compassion for those who suffer and forgives those whose quest for self‐sanctification falls short. The forgiveness of sin brings God into relation with each person, who remains a sinner in constant need of God. Thus, religion goes beyond ethics; religion does not negate our duties as moral agents but provides us with a richer conception of the task of fulfilling them.

Hermann Cohen influenced an entire class of German Jewish philosophers, including Ernest Cassirer (1874–1945), Julius Guttmann (1880–1950), Leo Baeck (1873–1956), Joseph B. Soloveitchik (1903–1993), and Steven Schwarzchild (1924–1989), as well as the work of the biblical scholar Yehezkel Kaufmann (1889–1963). After resigning from his post in Marburg, Cohen joined the Academie für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin, calling on Jewish scholars not to divorce scientific study from inner piety. His aim was to encourage Jewish scholars to establish an intimate bond between their scholarly and spiritual interests. Cohen's disciple Franz Rosenzweig would later perpetuate the fiction that in later life Cohen renounced his commitment to religion of reason; in truth Cohen remained consistent throughout his life, advocating the idealization of Judaism through a correct reading of the Bible.

After Cohen's death in 1918, Jewish philosophy in Germany would be dominated by two main figures—Martin Buber (1878–1965) and Franz Rosenzweig (1886–1929)—who also collaborated on a new translation of the Bible into German. The goal of that translation was precisely the opposite of Mendelssohn's enterprise a century and a half earlier: Whereas Mendelssohn wanted the Jews of his day to master the German language in order to integrate into German society, the Buber‐Rosenzweig translation of the Bible intended to Hebraicize the Bible for German Jewish readers who had been thoroughly integrated into German culture and who had been emotionally and practically distanced from Judaism. The translation begun in 1925 was completed in 1961 by Buber alone after many intermissions, and long after Rosenzweig's untimely death in 1929. Tragically, when that new translation of the Bible into German was completed, German Jewry, for whom it was intended, was no longer in existence.

Despite their collaboration and deep respect for each other, Buber and Rosenzweig did not share the same understanding of the Bible. For Buber the language of the Bible wasinseparable from the living Hebrew language and the foundational stratum of Jewish culture. Along with other Jewish biblical scholars such as Simon Bernfeld (1860–1940), Abraham Kahana (1874–1946), Benno Jacob (1862– 1945), Moses David Cassuto (1883–1951), Yehezkel Kaufmann (1889–1963), Moses Hirsch Segal (1877–1968), and Naphtali Herz Tur‐Sinai (1886–1973), Buber rejected the dominant readings of the Bible by Protestant theologians. Instead of theologizing the Bible, these scholars attempted to listen to the Bible's own unique voice, emphasize the rhythm of living utterance reflected in it, trace the associative elements that lead the attentive listener to the original meaning of the living utterance, and explore the concrete meaning and original dynamics of basic words. Unlike some of his Jewish cohorts, Buber had no difficulty maintaining a critical distance from the biblical text or sorting out the seeming contradictions and inconsistencies of the Bible without feeling apologetic about it. At the same time, Buber developed distinctive linguistic tools that enabled him to wrest the lived experience from the biblical text.

With Rosenzweig, Buber introduced the search for key‐words (Leitwörter) repeated in a given text with stubborn consistency, conveying its meaning. The key words force the listener not only to concentrate in a particular manner but also to participate in the experience evoked by the biblical text. Buber's translation attempted to retain the identity of each Hebrew root without blurring its manifold associations; if the semantic field of German words was too narrow in scope, Buber created new compound words in which the added word or root explained the particular development of a basic root. Through this message, Buber attempted to penetrate the primordial life of the spoken word as it reflected the unique otherness of the speaker. In this regard, Buber's translation/interpretation of the Bible stood in diametrical opposition to medieval philosophical commentaries that highlighted the abstract, philosophical content of the Bible.

Buber's attempt to recapture the concrete, living, unique human utterance of the biblical text differed from the approach of his collaborator, Franz Rosenzweig. For him, the goal of the translation was to break through the linguistic particularity of the text to the supra‐linguistic language without word. He did not compose a commentary on the Bible but his philosophical magnum opus, Der Stern der Erlosung (The Star of Redemption), presented his biblical theology as an alternative to Western philosophy. For Rosenzweig, not only is revelation an encounter with the Other, revelatory speech is dialogical. Rosenzweig states: “The ways of God are different from the ways of man, but the word of God and the word of man are the same. What man hears in his heart as his own human speech is the very word which comes out of God's mouth” (The Star of Redemption, trans. William W. Hallo [Boston: Beacon Press, 1972], p. 151 ). Accordingly Rosenzweig reinterpreted the prophetic speech: “The prophet does not mediate between God and man. He does not receive revelation in order to pass it on; rather, the voice of God sounds forth directly from within him, God speaks as ‘I’ directly from within him.” (Star, p. 178 ). In the Bible Rosenzweig found the “I” addressed by God. Biblical literature is unique because it authenticates the renewal of the divine word.

Buber, by contrast, did not believe that through the Bible one can still hear the voice of the living God, because he considered the Bible itself to be a human response to the encounter with God. Though we cannot hear the voice of God, we can hear the voice of those who were in the presence of God. In doing so, the listener/reader stands again in the presence of God. The encounter with God, according to Buber, is a content‐less experience that cannot be rendered propositionally. Developing Cohen's emphasis on correlation, Buber highlighted the relational nature of reality. All existence has two relational modalities: an I‐It or an I‐Thou. In Kantian terms, the former modality treats the other as a means to an end, whereas the latter treats the other as anend for its own sake. The I‐Thou is the ideal relationship that, alas, cannot be maintained over time, since it necessarily disintegrates into I‐It, objectifying the other. The only Thou that cannot be objectified is God, the Eternal Thou. Revelation, for Buber, is not a single event in the remote past, but an ongoing encounter with the presence of God. Similarly, the revelation at Sinai did not signify the disclosure of a legal code but a living experience of God's immediate presence. The spokenness (Geschprochenheit) of the Bible captures that direct encounter between God and the people of the time. The intent of the new German translation was to come as close as possible to the raw spokenness of the Bible. For Buber the engagement in biblical studies in Nazi Germany was an act of spiritual resistance. He finally departed from Germany in 1938 and settled in Israel (then called Palestine) where he continued the translation enterprise and went on to compose various essays on the Bible, the most important of which was Moses, written in 1944 and published in 1946. These midrashic essays illustrated Buber's own dialogical relationship with the biblical text, attempting to retrieve the past experience in order to stand once again in the presence of God.

In 1937, just a year before he departed from Germany, Buber appointed Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972) to succeed him as supervisor of adult education in Germany and director of the Jüdisches Lehrhaus at Frankfurt am Main, the main institutional context for the revitalization of Jewish life in Germany since the 1920s. The Nazis, however, deported Heschel (who was a Polish Jew) back to Poland in 1938, and after several months of teaching in Warsaw he was able to emigrate to England and from there to the United States in 1940. What Buber attempted to accomplish for the Jews of Germany, Heschel attempted to accomplish, with partial success, for American Jews. It was a dialogical reinterpretation of Judaism that addressed the predicament of modernity, its gnawing doubts and rootlessness. The tragedy of the modern person is the loss of the ability to ask the right questions to which the Bible is the answer. Heschel powerfully stated the challenge facing humanity in the second half of the 20th century: “Our problem…is how to share the certainty of Israel that the Bible contains that which God wants us to know and to hearken to; how to attain a collective sense for the presence of God in the biblical words. In this problem lies the dilemma of our fate, and in the answer lies the dawn or the doom” (God in Search of Man: A Philosophy of Judaism [New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1955], p. 246 ). In the return to the Bible lies the solution to the modern predicament of Jews and non‐Jews alike.

In continuity with Buber, Heschel denied that the Bible is a philosophical text or that the God of the Bible is a philosophical abstraction or a psychological projection. Rather, God is a living reality who takes passionate interest in the life of His creatures, or as Heschel's celebrated title put it, God is in search of man. Indeed, “the Bible is not primarily man's vision of God, but God's vision of man” (Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion [New York: Farrar Straus and Giroux, 1951], p. 129 ). Heschel then placed God at the center of the divine‐human drama told in the Bible, a long story of God's active pursuit of a rebellious Israel. The biblical text itself came into being as a response to God's revealing power. In Heschel's understanding of the Bible, the question of authorship, which exercised so much of modern biblical scholarship, is a moot point. The Bible is a product of divine and human authorships.

Heschel viewed attachment to the Bible to be essential to continued Jewish existence. The destiny of the Jewish people is to be a “community in whom the Bible lives on.” Israel must remain dedicated to the Bible in order for the Bible to remain “a sublime challenge and source of illumination for the world.” Since the Bible is “the frontier of the spirit” that “shows the way of God with man and the way of man with God, “had the Bible not been preserved, an invaluable pathway to God would be lost. The current spiritual poverty throughout the world is due largelyto a “growing alienation from the Bible” (God in Search of Man, pp. 252, 238 ). Heschel viewed the Bible as the deepest alternative to the spiritual malaise of the 20th century, the only hope for the revival of divine wisdom, justice and compassion. Heschel was committed to reengagement with the Bible in order to preserve the Jewish faith for the future.

In his doctoral dissertation at the University of Berlin, Die Prophetie (1933), which was later published in an expanded form in The Prophets (1962), Heschel articulated the doctrine of divine pathos according to which “God does not reveal himself in an abstract absoluteness, but in a personal and intimate relation to the world.…God is also moved and affected by what happens in the world, and reacts accordingly” (Heschel, The Prophets [New York: Harper and Row, 1962], pp. 223–224 ). “It is precisely because God is filled with pathos for human beings that they may respond with sympathy to God.…The prophetic faith is thus a sympathetic response to divine pathos” (John C. Merkle, “Heschel's Theology of Divine Pathos,” in John C. Merkle (ed.), Abraham Joshua Heschel: Exploring His Life and Thought [London and New York, 1985], p. 81 ).

Heschel's uncanny ability to present the biblical faith as the answer to the modern predicament was partially responsible for the spiritual revival of Judaism in America during the 1960s and 1970s. Yet it is hard to gauge whether Heschel's enormous fame as a cultural icon actually led American Jews in search of Jewish renewal back to the study of the Bible. Jewish Studies programs began to sprout in the 1970s at the same time that Religious Studies departments were established in secular universities. Courses in the Bible were then offered as part of the academic study of religion, and the Bible was now studied either as an ancient Near Eastern document, or as sophisticated “literature” that illustrated many of the linguistic subtleties of contemporary literary theories, or as a source of information about the socio‐cultural setting of the framers of the biblical canon. For Jewish Studies professors in American universities, the philosophic import of the Bible has become neglected, presumably because taking the biblical text as Scripture, namely, as an existentially meaningful text, is perceived as belonging in the denominational seminaries but not in the secular university.

Three contemporary Jewish philosophical theologians—Norbert M. Samuelson (b. 1936), David R. Blumenthal (b. 1938) and Judith Plaskow (b. 1947)—challenge this convention, illustrating the continued relevance of the Bible for contemporary Jewish thought and the indebtedness to Buber and Heschel. Samuelson illustrates how the Bible is engaged in the context of the dialogue between science and religion. Though his academic training was in analytic philosophy and medieval Jewish philosophy, Samuelson regards the task of Jewish philosophy to be predominantly constructive rather than historical or analytical. Since what is true in the Bible must be in accord with what is known to be true in contemporary science, if the literal meaning of the biblical text is in conflict with contemporary science, it could not be the correct reading of the text. Samuelson's reading of the creation narrative shows how the biblical story of creation accords with contemporary physics. (See Norbert M. Samuelson, The First Seven Days: A Philosophical Commentary on the Creation of Genesis [Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1992]; Judaism and the Doctrine of Creation [Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994].) Samuelson's theory of revelation is very much in accord with Buber's, but his approach to the biblical text is similar to medieval biblical exegesis, in that it pays close attention to contemporary science.

Like Samuelson, David Blumenthal was trained as a historian of medieval Jewish philosophy, but has devoted his efforts to writing constructive Jewish philosophy. If for Samuelson contemporary science is the main challenge to the meaning of the Bible, for Blumenthal the point of departure is the trauma of the Holocaust. Applying post‐Structuralist strategies to the Psalms, Blumenthal attempts toconstruct a post‐Holocaust Jewish theology by therapeutically confronting the personal God of Israel as an abusive deity (David R. Blumenthal, Facing the Abusing God: A Theology of Protest [Louisville: Westminster/John Knox Press, 1993], esp. pp. 57–192 ). Selecting Pss. 128, 44, 109, and 27 for close reading, Blumenthal offers not only his own new translation of the psalms but also four simultaneous commentaries. The first commentary is a philological commentary based on existing biblical scholarship. The second commentary is written under the influence of Heschel, Blumenthal's teacher, in an attempt to capture the spiritual tradition of Hasidism. The third commentary focuses “on the emotional attitudes which the psalmist tradition wishes us to cultivate,” and the fourth commentary attempts “to respond to Jacque Derrida, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Alice Miller, Carol Gilligan, Jessica Benjamin, Elie Wiesel and others in the calling‐reading‐proclaiming of the psalms” (pp. 58–60 ). By writing four simultaneous glosses on the biblical text, Blumenthal intentionally mimics the medieval Jewish exegetical tradition, clearly implying that he sees his work in continuity with medieval predecessors no less than an attempt to respond to psychoanalysis, deconstruction, feminism, and the Holocaust. It remains to be seen whether this reading will catch the imagination of American Jews.

At present the one contemporary Jewish theologian who has succeeded in influencing how some American Jews approach the Bible is Judith Plaskow, perhaps the best‐known Jewish feminist (see “Women's Scholarly Writings,” pp. 2000–2005). She has argued that Judaism is in need of healing not because of the Holocaust but because of the systematic and pernicious exclusion of women from the activity of scriptural interpretation. (See Judith Plaskow, Standing Again at Sinai [San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1990].) Women were present at Sinai but it was the male‐centered rabbinic tradition that ignored, silenced, and marginalized women. A new reading of the Bible is necessary if Jewish women are to be restored to their rightful place within the tradition and become creative readers of their own sacred texts. Plaskow inaugurated an insightful feminist engagement with the Bible and rekindled a feminist midrashic discourse, but since most of those who engage in this enterprise are not philosophically trained, feminist biblical interpretations to date lack philosophical rigor.

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