REL 205(F) Modern Jewish Thought

In conformity with the Enlightenment stress upon reason, eighteenth century Jewish philosopher Moses Mendelssohn writes, "True divine religion arrogates to itself no power over opinion and judgments. It knows only the power to win over by arguments." The persistence of rationalist interpretations of religion as well as the emergence of new philosophical perspectives will be considered as they bear upon the meaning of God, revelation, law, ethics and ritual practice in Judaism as interpreted in the philosophies of Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Emmanuel Levinas and Joseph B. Soloveitchik. The impact of the holocaust as unprecedented catastrophe upon concepts of God, history and memory will be explored. Postmodern accounts of exegesis as itself a form of ritual practices and the impact of gender upon the formation of Jewish identity will be analyzed. Lecture/discussion. Requirements: active participating in class, three essays (5-7 pages). Enrollment limit: 30 (expected 15).