Judaism and the West

Judaism and the West

From Hermann Cohen to Joseph Soloveitchik
Robert Erlewine
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 08/08/2016
Format: Hardback
ISBN: 978-0-253-02225-7
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Grappling with the place of Jewish philosophy at the margin of religious studies, Robert Erlewine examines the work of five Jewish philosophers—Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Abraham Joshua Heschel, and Joseph Soloveitchik—to bring them into dialogue within the discipline. Emphasizing the tenuous place of Jews in European, and particularly German, culture, Erlewine unapologetically contextualizes Jewish philosophy as part of the West. He teases out the antagonistic and overlapping attempts of Jewish thinkers to elucidate the philosophical and cultural meaning of Judaism when others sought to deny and even expel Jewish influences. By reading the canon of Jewish philosophy in this new light, Erlewine offers insight into how Jewish thinkers used religion to assert their individuality and modernity.

Author Bio

Robert Erlewine is Associate Professor of Religion at Illinois Wesleyan University. He is author of Monotheism and Tolerance: Recovering a Religion of Reason (IUP, 2009).


“An important study that provides a good overview of some of the problems and growing pains inherent to modern Jewish philosophizing. Taken as a whole, the book provides an excellent introduction to modern Jewish philosophy.”
 — Aaron Hughes, author of The Invention of Jewish Identity

“A veritable tour de force and will certainly be greeted as a seminal contribution to the study of modern Jewish thought.”
 — Paul Mendes-Flohr, author of The Promises and Limitations of Interfaith Dialogue

Judaism in the West is an excellent book, which reaches further than its unassuming tone would have one assume. It is essential reading for scholars of Jewish thought, and valuable for anyone interested in religious studies methodology, and the relationship between Jewish and religious studies. ”
 — Reading Religion

“[The] author has done an important service for the fields of Jewish studies and religious studies by linking the thought of five great modern Jewish philosophers directly to the problem of the West and of Judaism’s place in it. ”
 — Harvard Theological Review

“Erlewine's book provides a distinctive, indispensable introduction to modern Jewish thought. . . . Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

“While the thinkers examined here are hardly unknown, each chapter offers an original analysis that builds on but also importantly adds to previous scholarship. One of the book's important contributions lays in the philosophical credit that is granted to Buber, Heschel, and Soloveitchik, who are often taken to be of less philosophical rigor than Cohen and Rosenzweig, and Erlewine's justification for giving this credit.”
 — Religious Studies Review

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Table of Contents

1. Exemplarity and the German-Jewish Symbiosis: Hermann Cohen on War and Religion
2. Symbol not Sacrifice: Cohen’s Jewish Jesus
3. Fire, Rays, and the Dark: Rosenzweig and the Oriental/Occidental Divide
4. Redeeming this World: Buber’s Judaism and the Sanctity of Immanence
5. Prophets, Prophecy and Divine Wrath: Heschel and the God of Pathos
6. Cultivating Objectivity: Soloveitchik, The Marburg School, and the Religious Pluralism

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