Rosenzweig’s Bible examines the high stakes, both theological and political, of Franz Rosenzweig’s attempt to revivify the Hebrew Bible and use it as the basis for a Jewish textual identity. Mara Benjamin’s innovative reading of The Star of Redemption places Rosenzweig’s best-known work at the beginning of an intellectual trajectory that culminated in a monumental translation of the Bible, thus overturning fundamental assumptions that have long guided the appraisal of this titan of modern Jewish thought. She argues that Rosenzweig’s response to modernity was paradoxical: he challenged his readers to encounter the biblical text as revelation, reinventing scripture – both the Bible itself and the very notion of a scriptural text – in order to invigorate Jewish intellectual and social life, but did so in a distinctly modern key, ultimately reinforcing the foundations of German-Jewish post-Enlightenment liberal thought. Rosenzweig’s Bible illuminates the complex interactions that arise when modern readers engage the sacred texts of ancient religious traditions.
Introduction: the decline and renewal of scripture; 1. Scripture in the star of redemption; 2. Yehudah Halevi: the creation of a scriptural world; 3. Bible translation and the shaping of German identity; 4. Toward a new encounter with the Bible; Conclusion: scripture today: some considerations.
“In this nuanced and noteworthy book, Mara Benjamin shows how the great German-Jewish philosopher Franz Rosenzweig struggled to define what the ancient Hebrew liturgy could mean to Jewish existence under the radically altered conditions of late modernity. Textually precise without ever losing sight of the broader context of Weimar-era theology, Rosenzweig’s Bible makes a lasting and significant contribution to the current debate concerning Rosenzweig and the modernist reinvention of Jewish tradition.” —Peter E. Gordon, Harvard University