SEP: Franz Rosenzweig

Feb 26, 2009 by

Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) ranks as one of the most original Jewish thinkers of the modern period. As a historian of philosophy, Rosenzweig played a brief but noteworthy role in the neo-Hegelian revival on the German intellectual scene of the 1910s. In the years immediately following the First World War, he sought to bring about the “total renewal of thinking” through a novel synthesis of philosophy and theology he named the “new thinking.” Rosenzweig’s account of revelation as a call from the Absolute other helped shape the course of early 20th-century Jewish and Christian theology. His reflections on human finitude and on the temporal contours of human experience made a lasting impact on 20th-century existentialism; and his account of dialogue presented the interpersonal relation between “I” and “You” as both constitutive of selfhood and as yielding redemptive communal consequences. Rosenzweig engaged in two major works of translation, most notably the German translation of the Bible in which he collaborated with Martin Buber. He founded a center for Jewish adult education in Frankfurt—the Lehrhaus—which attracted the most important young German-Jewish intellectuals of its time, and which is still held up today as a model for educational programs of its type.

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