“Judaism Despite Christianity”: After—almost— 100 years …
Franz Rosenzweig (December 25, 1886—December 10, 1929)
July 6, 1888 – February 24, 1973
There does not seem to be much awareness in these letters of ‘politicized’ as contrasted with ‘religious’ Judaism. But there are brilliant insights concerning ‘politicized’ ideology and its effects on religion, like this: “Just as freedom of conscience, instead of leading to an impetuous competition of consciences, became freedom from conscience, so private religion leads to privation of religion.” Franz has a difficult passage in the following letter where he says that “the Jew between the Crucifixion and the Second Coming can only have a negative meaning in Christian theology.” He resumes the theme in Letter 11 where he says that “the stubbornness of the Jews is a Christian dogma. “ He summarizes the formation of Church dogma (p. 110) thus: “… in the firm establishment of the Old Testament in the canon, and in the building of the church on this double scripture… the stubbornness of the Jews is in fact brought out as the other half of the Christian dogma…” He goes on to say that in practice the theological idea of the “stubbornness of the Jews” works itself out in hatred of the Jews:
“You know as well as I do that all its realistic arguments are only fashionable cloaks to hide the single true metaphysical ground: that we will not make common cause with the world-conquering fiction of Christian dogma, because however much a fact (it is a fiction)…[and] that we have crucified Christ and believe me, would do it again every time, we alone in the whole world…"
“That new humanity from universal need and sin, that ever newly born corpus christianum of all men of good will—that being called out from all people—is something of which she knows nothing…The Jews have a saying that one day all people will come to Jerusalem to pray, and they always crucify again the one who came to make the word true. In appearance they wait upon the word of the Lord, but they have grown through and through so far away from revelation that they do everything they can to hinder its reality. With all the power of their being they set themselves against their own promises. They are the image on earth of Lucifer, the highest of the angels, elect of God, who wanted to keep God’s gift from himself as a dominion in his own right, and fell. So Israel stands upon its own inalienable right. This naïve way of thinking that one has won inalienable rights in perpetuity against God…is the relic of blind antiquity in Judaism… The Jew dies for no country and no cause; because he does not experience the boundaries of life he lives by a ghostly reflection of all real life…”
“In listening to God’s ‘No,’ Israel recognized herself as God’s servant, merely a man in the face of God’s majesty. In this ‘No’ all merely human desires are burned out, and our notion of God’s will is cleansed. ‘Revelation’ is knowledge of God’s will, after his ‘No’ to our will has become known. Only then is God pure future, pure act—only when all his former creations stand exposed as non-gods, as mere artifacts.”
This gives a historical vision of human development, and for that reason would be comparable to Rosenstock’s “grammatical method,” which presupposes a long historical past in the formation of language.
Photos courtesy of Google/Wikipedia.