Reason and Revelation before Historicism: Strauss and by Sharon Jo Portnoff

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By Sharon Jo Portnoff

Can modern faith, and especially Judaism, exist with no being proficient through heritage? this query used to be debated in Forties long island by way of German refugees who later rose to prominence — Leo Strauss, one of many 20th century's most vital political philosophers, and Emil L. Fackenheim, an immense post-Holocaust Jewish theologian. there was little consensus, even if, at the definitive that means in their work.

Reason and Revelation ahead of Historicism, the 1st full-length comparability of Strauss and Fackenheim,places the casual instructor and pupil in dialog along sections in their analyses of striking thinkers. Sharon Portnoff means that either observed historicism because the nexus of the intersection and rigidity among philosophy and faith and raised the potential for the patience of the everlasting within the smooth global. Portnoff illuminates our realizing of Strauss's dating with Judaism, Fackenheim's oft-overshadowed nice philosophical intensity, and the functionality and personality of Jewish inspiration in a secular, post-Holocaust international.

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Sample text

In addition, a ‘new’ Judaism, one that begins in history, with the Jewish people, and that includes both non-believers and believers, must be forged in the wake of the Holocaust – a strategy whose precedence Fackenheim takes from the ancient rabbis, who, in the wake of the Destruction of the Second Temple forged a ‘new’ (rabbinic) Judaism. For Jews to ‘return into history,’ they must bring their theology to practical life through the filter of philosophy. This requires the input of all Jews: since, despite the introduction of the new science, and after the Holocaust, Jews know themselves to be defined as Jews regardless of belief or non-belief, postHolocaust Judaism is religio-secular and must include both revelatory theology and philosophy.

Fackenheim recognizes the problem of the preclusion of both Jews as Jews from the modern liberal state and also of Jews and Judaism from the idea of history at the inception of the modern synthetic project. 104 From Fackenheim’s perspective, the possibility of the flesh-and-blood Jews encountering the specific God who revealed Himself at Sinai must include recognition of the ‘history’ into which we have thought ourselves; this is because, to put it simply, flesh-and-blood Jews continued to live during the period of the synthetic project.

This is not to say that he considered Spinoza a good Jew – he did not – but Spinoza’s work establishes the context for all subsequent Jewish thought. More specifically, if we are to rediscover the possibility of revelation, Spinoza must be proved wrong in every respect. Strauss reads the Bible in order to discover in it, not its interpretations of revelation, but rather, through these interpretations, revelation itself. Revelation itself, in the orthodox view, is unqualified by modern historicism, modern attempts to synthesize reason and revelation, and subsequent critiques of this synthesis; therefore this view can give access to how the biblical authors understood themselves.

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