By David Janssens
Examines the early works of German-Jewish political thinker Leo Strauss (1899-1973).
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Extra resources for Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought
Aided by the reconstituted doctrine of attributes, moreover, it allows them to trace the rationality underlying the traditional conception of God. Just as Cohen’s theology makes it possible to integrate traditional Jewish content within a modern philosophical and scientific framework, Otto’s work enables us to honor the foundations of the Jewish religion without forsaking the legacy of the European critique of religion. In this sense, the new theology of Cohen and Otto is the necessary supplement to Dubnow’s critical reading of biblical history, aimed at promoting the political awareness of modern Jews.
For Rosenzweig, however, the revealed law was secondary to the Jewish people: it is the product of the common descent of the Jewish people, as it were, a cultural densification of its turbulent history. Yet tradition teaches the reverse, Strauss rejoins: according to the Pentateuch, the Jewish people were unified as the chosen people only as a result of the revelation of God’s law. Upholding the primacy of experience therefore does not require the preliminary affirmation of the national sentiment or the national spirit, but obedience to the law in its entire traditional rigor.
Therein lies the specific value of Dubnow’s approach for political Zionism, Strauss points out. It is the means par excellence to promote the political “IN THE GRIP OF THE THEOLOGICAL-POLITICAL PREDICAMENT” 19 awareness of modern Judaism. 45 But, in that case, what happens to religion? According to Strauss, Dubnow’s work is rooted in the modern critique of religion, and as such it is an indispensable aid for political Zionism. However, as he also notes, Dubnow’s resistance to the traditional reading of the Bible is primarily aimed against what he holds to be the central Jewish dogma: the existence and providence of God in relationship to Jewish history.
Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought by David Janssens