By Leora Batnitzky
Even though Franz Rosenzweig is arguably an important Jewish thinker of the 20th century, his notion continues to be little understood. the following, Leora Batnitzky argues that Rosenzweig's redirection of German-Jewish moral monotheism anticipates and demanding situations modern traits in spiritual reviews, ethics, philosophy, anthropology, theology, and bible study. this article, which captures the hermeneutical move of Rosenzweig's corpus, is the 1st to think about the entire import of the cultural feedback articulated in his writings at the glossy meanings of paintings, language, ethics, and nationwide id. within the strategy, the e-book solves major conundrums approximately Rosenzweig's relation to German idealism, to different significant Jewish thinkers, to Jewish political lifestyles, and to Christianity, and brings Rosenzweig into dialog with key modern thinkers. Drawing on Rosenzweig's view that Judaism's ban on idolatry is the the most important highbrow and non secular source to be had to reply to the social implications of human finitude, Batnitzky interrogates idolatry as a contemporary threat. Her research speaks not just to the query of Judaism's courting to modernity (and vice versa), but additionally to the usual query of the present's dating to the past--a topic of serious value to a person considering the fashionable statuses of spiritual culture, cause, technology, and ancient inquiry. when it comes to Rosenzweig, Batnitzky argues that modern philosophers and ethicists needs to relearn their techniques to spiritual traditions and texts to handle brand new relevant moral difficulties.
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Additional info for Idolatry and Representation: The Philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig Reconsidered
The only difference between God’s attributes and human attributes for the unphilosophical person is that God’s attributes are always bigger and better than human ones. Thus the masses think that “God would not exist if He did not have a body with a face . . ”18 The philosopher recognizes the needs of the masses and therefore that anthropomorphic language is always metaphorical. For Maimonides, the problem of idolatry and representation points to two central human limitations. 19 The problem of idolatry and representation is always a semantic one, for Maimonides.
49 Rosenzweig’s notion of witness is predicated on a rejection, though an ambivalent one, of the “alien realm” of philosophical paganism. The issue of what it means to be a witness is absolutely central to The Star of Redemption, both in terms of Judaism as witness to the nations and in terms of Rosenzweig’s theory of meaning deﬁned more broadly. Rosenzweig parts with Cohen by arguing that it is by way of proper worship that Jews witness all of humanity. 50 Just as Rosenzweig argues that the so-called problem of biblical anthropomorphism is a category error committed by Jewish rationalists at the expense of the vital relationship between God and the human being, so too he argues that Cohen’s conﬂation of Judaism and philosophically correct ideas is a category error whose price is the universally redemptive potential of Jewish particularity.
Against Maimonides and Cohen, Rosenzweig argues not only that the Bible’s multiple images of God are not a threat to monotheism, but that they are monotheism’s most important safeguard. The Bible’s many images of God express particular encounters between the human and the divine. The variety of images of God in the Bible is constitutive of monotheism itself. ”31 For Rosenzweig, the images of God in the Bible are not shameful, as they are for Cohen and Maimonides. Rather, these images go to the heart of the truth of monotheism itself: “The assumption that [biblical anthropomorphisms] make is none other than the double one that the Bible commonly makes: namely that God is capable of what he wills .