Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and by David Janssens

By David Janssens

Examines the early works of German-Jewish political thinker Leo Strauss (1899-1973).

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Additional info for Between Athens and Jerusalem: Philosophy, Prophecy, and Politics in Leo Strauss's Early Thought

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By understanding the irrational as the bearer of rational attributes, Otto rehabilitates the inherent rationality of human speech about God. For this reason, Strauss stresses, his theology is particularly valuable for Judaism, especially with regard to an adequate relationship to its biblical and ritual tradition. ’”57 Otto’s postcritical theology may thus enable modern Jews to read the Bible anew, as a testament of transcendence. Aided by the reconstituted doctrine of attributes, moreover, it allows them to trace the rationality underlying the traditional conception of God.

To estimate the importance of this event, we do well to turn to the autobiographical preface to Spinoza’s Critique of Religion. ”65 As the early writings show, however, the young Strauss is not prepared to make this momentous decision without further ado. Before taking this step, he considers it his first and foremost duty to revisit the one genuine 28 BETWEEN ATHENS AND JERUSALEM obstacle to an unqualified return to orthodoxy, the obstacle that is at the same time the basis of his own youthful commitment: the critique of religion.

14 While this counters Cohen’s objections to Spinoza’s method, there remains the matter of the results of his investigations. These, however, cannot be said to be more critical with regard to Judaism than regarding other revealed religions, Strauss holds. Even where they focus on the Old Testament, they are concerned with biblical elements that were controversial within Jewish orthodoxy as well. The question of the corporality of God, for example, had been a bone of contention among Jewish theologians long before Spinoza uttered his criticisms.

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