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Rosenzweig's Bible reinventing Scripture for Jewish modernity

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Please enter 5 or 9 numbers for the ZIP Code. Handling time. This approach sought coherence and correspondence of characters, thus setting the stage for modern critical scholarship and the breakdown of the theological heart of the Song. Treating the Song as a drama, in the manner of the German Romantics, dissolved the structural unity of the Song and fragmented the critical dyadic relation at its heart. See ibid. One knew that the I and Thou of human speech is, in and of itself, also the I and Thou between God and human being.

One knew that the difference between immanence and transcendence expires in language [Sprache]. This unique ability to actually contain or manifest revelation is what Rosenzweig calls allegory [Gleichnis]. Indeed, Rosenzweig claims that the Song of Songs is the one true, paradigmatic example of Gleichnis, or speech true to revelation: The allegory of love permeates all of revelation as allegory. It is the everrecurring allegory of the prophets.

But it must in fact be more than allegory. And so we find it in the Song of Songs. However, the Song of Songs is a paradigmatic, privileged text for Rosenzweig because the metaphor never calls attention to its metaphorical status; it is not simile Vergleich , but a bold assertion that God is the lover, and the soul is the beloved. Indeed, eros depends upon distance; absence, not presence, sustains the lovers in their desire 69 70 Rabbinic interpretations of the Song understand it as an allegory of the love between God and the people Israel; patristic interpretations hold the Song to be an allegory of God and the Church.

Arthur Green argues that tropological interpretations of the Song of Songs that is, interpretations that read the book as an allegory of the relation between God or Christ and the individual soul have a marginal place in the history of Jewish exegesis but a more central role in patristic and medieval Christian interpretation. The literature on the history of Song of Songs interpretation is vast. But language, as opposed to history or any Geist governing it, promised Rosenzweig a rich meeting place for divine and human. This search for the locus of a language that contained its own signified was not unique to Rosenzweig; it was shared by a host of Jewish intellectuals who grew to maturity during the turbulent Weimar years.


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The thing which becomes a symbol retains its original form and its original content. It does not become, so to speak, an empty shell into 71 72 73 As Anne Carson writes in Eros the Bittersweet, the gap necessary to the creation and maintenance of eros relies upon the boundaries separating lovers. To know both, keeping the difference visible, is the subterfuge called eros. Sexual union in the Song takes place only on a figurative level, and even then it is often anticipated in a jussive verbal tense instead of being narrated in perfect tense.

Desire reigns in the Song, not fulfillment; and in this sense the Song adheres to the biblical worldview. In the Hebrew Bible there is an urgent desire for fulfillment, but by and large. See Handelman, Fragments of Redemption, — All of these, in fact, compose the boundaries of what can be considered privileged language. The Song of Songs was, for Rosenzweig, where the word of God and the word of humanity meet each other.

Revelation, recast as the single instance of true allegory in the Song of Songs, simultaneously gestures toward both transcendence and immanence, and the contradictions generated toward these movements inform the language of Star as well as its meditations on language. Scripture in Star aimed to anchor and reorient philosophical thinking in an era that Rosenzweig, like many of his similarly theologically minded contemporaries, perceived as a time in desperate need of new thinking. Revelation was to be metonymically represented by carefully selected and reinterpreted biblical passages, passages that served not to illustrate revelation so much as to overwhelm the reader with their power.

The specific scriptural passages that occupy a pivotal role in Star, moreover, are meant to serve not merely as poetic versions or ornaments for a philosophical system accessible by other means, but as the joints and hinges of a new kind of thinking. Scriptural language and text served to make the case for this thinking by showing the indispensability of revelation, and the text that represented it, to all cognition and experience.


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The fact that Rosenzweig built his complex edifice on such unstable foundations suggests that he aimed to use scripture even more for its performative value than for its substantive contribution to philosophy. Underneath his intricate but ultimately precarious structure, the beams of post-Kantian religious thought are clearly visible. Rosenzweig was able to construct an imposing edifice that promised the power of the unmediated word.

In the works written after Star, he increasingly reckoned with the multiple factors that mediate scripture and revelation. The shortcomings of his early approach — the impossibility of engaging in debate about the very issue of what revelation meant and how, if at all, it was to be perceived in scripture — led Rosenzweig ultimately to reject the rhetorical posture of Star, even as he continued to embrace scripture as a key concept for Jewish revival in his later writings.

In —19, Rosenzweig had not yet formulated the questions that were to animate his later writings on the Bible and revelation. But we see in Star his initial attempt to forge a new language for theology out of sources at once ancient and alive. In the commentary on it I note the places where I was not able to translate literally. Rhyme and meter have been reproduced precisely. The whole thing owes its genesis to Emil Cohn. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, , 2: Reiss, I shall argue in this chapter that Hymns and Poems should be understood not only as a feat of translational innovation but as an ultimately accommodationist proposal for how Jews were to find a place in the modern German state and society.

Buber continued to translate the remainder of the Bible, completing the project in His proposal for a textually centered, specifically Jewish identity in Germany appears in his correspondence from the time just before he undertook the Yehudah Halevi project. His elaboration of this concept directly coincides with his own translational work. His effort to bring the poetry to a German-speaking audience was no doubt as passionate as it was because it was deeply personal. For Rosenzweig, the figure of Halevi — apprehended not through his biography but rather by his textual legacy — became emblematic of a religious ideal inaccessible in the contemporary climate.

Rosenzweig saw in Halevi the reflection of his own spiritual and textual quest; at the same time, the medieval poet and philosopher represented the authentic, rich Jewish past that Rosenzweig found so elusive. Consider the sense of poverty in the heritage most proximate to him that he expressed in a letter to his confidant Gertrud Oppenheim.

It testifies to the superficiality Rosenzweig perceived as permeating his German-Jewish background, indicting his very name: Certainly I have no relationship to my first name. As to why, I naturally have only guesses. Because it — back then! And in Kassel!

It has no inheritance, no memory in it, no history, and even less any anecdote, hardly any personality — only a whim. Ellipses and emphasis in original. In a letter written to his mother the summer before his death, Rosenzweig inscribed a sense of spiritual kinship onto his genealogy. His felt connection to Halevi expressed simultaneously his dissatisfaction with the superficiality of the liberalbourgeois heritage bestowed on him and his hopes for the possibility of actively constructing an alternative name and alternative history.

Of all his published endeavors, his work on the poems of Halevi afforded Rosenzweig a deeply personal connection with the text. This sense of spiritual kinship gave the work tremendous passion. This very identification with Halevi, however, also confused the boundaries between authorial voice, translation, innovation, and interpretation in the volume that emerged from the encounter.

Or was it to provide a forum for Rosenzweig to express his own developing ideas on language, poetics, and translation? He insisted upon both the direct encounter with the translated text and the legitimacy of his interpretive license in bringing the text to the reader. Rosenzweig argued that the poems themselves constituted the main purpose of the book and the focus of his energies. It would seem that Rosenzweig doth protest too much.

For instance, in the first and second editions both overseen by Rosenzweig , the poems are presented first, followed by his afterword, and concluding with his notes on each poem. The Hebrew original is not present. The publishers of the third 8 9 Letter December 20, to Buber, in ibid. Letter June 17, to Buber, in ibid. Rosenzweig wrote to Buber in early Regarding the sequence, I see the organization. That an exactly inversely-constructed book would be read just this way — this I indeed experienced with the Star.

Now therefore under no circumstances do I want the snotty [schnodderig] afterword to be the conclusion of the book; the real conclusion is to be the last note. The afterword works only if it is as it is now, bound in front and back. I translated it only in order to be permitted to write the note on it. In part because it was absent, the Hebrew could hold what Robert Alter has 10 11 12 13 Letter January 8, to Buber, in ibid.

Jerusalem: , 3: Rosenzweig sought to make Halevi and his passions immediate and proximate rather than historicized. Jehuda Halevi. Rosenzweig exploited both the opacity of the translated text and its supposed transparency; he portrayed himself as laboring only for the cause of an accurate translation and simultaneously insisted on the necessity of interpretive license.

These contradictions in the work of translation, while never resolved, lent a fruitful tension to his mature work. Yet the volume of translated works Rosenzweig produced does not adequately capture the role that translation symbolized in his work.

Guide Rosenzweigs Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity

Hymns and Poems, like the translation projects that came before and after it, was, fundamentally, a call for a Jewish world built on language rather than on deed. The text they tackled was the grace after meals. Any Jew whom we invite should be able to eat with us, but we also want to be able to go to the homes of those Christians who invite us.

The Orthodox compromise — to go out but not eat or only eat select things — is really only a compromise. In the end they also should believe that our Jewishness does not consist in eating and drinking.

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Judaism, for Rosenzweig, did not concern what one ate — where eating was perceived as a system of physical and social 20 21 Franz Rosenzweig, Der Tischdank Berlin: Fritz Gurlitt, But Rosenzweig articulated in this letter a much more ambivalent relation to the mitsvot than has been widely appreciated. In his argument with Buber, Rosenzweig did not argue for the necessity or authority of the commandments but for the value of an open mind toward what the mitsvot and customs and traditions minhagim of Judaism might offer to the tentative individual engaging with them.

He aimed to create a poetic and liturgical, rather than a practical, Jewish sphere of life. Liturgy eventually became one of the few realms in which he expressed a wholesale willingness to submerge himself in the literary texts of the past, even as he increasingly transformed these texts into his own creations. Nijhoff, , — Paul W. Morgan Indianapolis: Hackett, , For Rosenzweig, the engagement with Jewish texts would serve as an alternative to other dominant modes of Jewish expression: religious adherence such as that demanded by traditional Orthodoxy, liberal assimilationism, and Zionist political action.

As an activity for the expression of Jewish being in the world, translation served Rosenzweig and his bourgeois, liberal audience well: it required neither adherence to Jewish religious practice nor the packing of bags for Palestine. Rosenzweig also envisioned his book as speaking to both Christian and Jewish audiences.

Writing of his frustration in getting the book published, he wrote to Buber that he did not wish it to be published by a Jewish press. Emphasis in original. Martin Buber Berlin: Schocken, , Language held the key to both marginalization and redemption. It is to this quixotic endeavor that we now turn. Jahrhundert, ed. The language of the Hebrew Bible was to provide German with the vocabulary, cadences, and reference points that had been marginalized before.

The note on the first poem presented Rosenzweig with his first opportunity to allude to his new approach. Yes, Lord, You You I praise; your justice, through me may it shine widely. Horch, ein Ton — gehorch ich schon, Frage schmilzt und Widerstreit. Hark, a tone — I obey already, question melts away and strife. That he be praised Oh that he be garlanded Oh that he be extolled and consecrated.

These words echo the Kaddish, a resonant prayer in Jewish liturgy. Cohn, in his Diwan, excised the refrain entirely. Rosenzweig, by contrast, retained and visually offset the recurring chorus for emphasis. In his note on the poem, Rosenzweig pointedly remarked: The refrain here is, as is often the case, the nucleus of the poem, the point that every stanza empties out into and the one which determines its course. Rosenzweig insisted that repetition was an irreducible aspect of the experience that the poem could incite in the reader.

Rosenzweig claimed that this approach was simply the one best suited to the poetry, but it grew out of his eagerness to reject what he perceived as bourgeois literary convention, in which a repeated phrase would more likely be found redundant than essential. Buber and Rosenzweig attributed significance and intentionality to these repetitions without ever making explicit claims about the authorship of the Bible see Chapter 4 for further discussion. In the Bible translation, Buber and Rosenzweig both developed a style that emphasized the distinctive economy of biblical Hebrew.

Their invention of neologisms and their insistent use of highly unusual German phrasing and word choice were, for them, necessary accommodations to the original text. All of these efforts were designed to compel the reader to appreciate the recurring linguistic patterns in the Bible. See also Letter Sept. The echoes of a broader debate on the proper strategy for perpetuating Jewish existence in the dominant German environment, though never explicit, are resonant within this argument.

This style characterized the approach to the Bible that was more widely read — and often decried — by contemporaneous critics and recent scholars alike. But this connection between the two bodies of literature was, for Rosenzweig, not incidental but organic and unified. For Rosenzweig, Musivstil proposed a mandate for a mode of being in the world that he himself sought to develop.

The task, Rosenzweig concludes, is not to end the exile but to preserve it; not to flourish in spite of it but to flourish because of it. With it, another [world] thrusts itself in front of the surrounding one and reduces the latter to an appearance, or more precisely, to a parable [Gleichnis]. Thus it is not that the scriptural word is drawn upon, in the manner of a parable, as an illustration of the life of the present, but exactly the opposite: events serve as an elucidation of the scriptural word and become the parable of it.

When a Jewish poet represents Christianity and Islam with Edom and Ishmael, he is not commenting on the present on the basis of scripture, but rather on scripture on the basis of the present. But the significance of this statement goes far beyond the scope of literary history. Rosenzweig proposes none other than an ideal relationship between the world of ordinary language and ordinary historical time, on the one hand, and the world of biblical language and the mythical axes on which the biblical world turns, on the other. In doing so, Rosenzweig ironically conformed to the pattern of so many Weimar Jewish intellectuals who claimed to distance themselves from Weimar culture, and in doing so, proved themselves to be among its most enthusiastic participants.

The four-part division of the poems into sections called God, Soul, People, and Zion charts a movement from the individual soul before God to Jewish participation in the experience of communal redemption, followed by a coda in which the individual — in this case, Halevi as read through the eyes of Rosenzweig — reaches his own ultimate destiny in redemptive death in Zion. The progression recalls the trajectory of The Star of Redemption, but the method of presentation, the tone, and the format are distinctive.

The decisively non-systematic form of Hymns and Poems comprised a critical element of the project. For more specific discussions of this phenomenon in Rosenzweig, see Gordon, Rosenzweig and Heidegger. Berlin: Mikize Nirdamim, — He states the guiding principles that form his method in an afterword and in the notes on each poem.

One can only wish that Rosenzweig had presented his knowledge of these things once in systematic form: what he has said up to this point about them are aphoristic reflections or historical claims that in the form presented cannot be correctly ascertained. Responding not so much to Halevi as to more proximate nineteenth- and early twentieth-century German religious thinkers, Rosenzweig suggests that the intellectual problem of the historical revelation evaporates in the experience of standing in direct relation to God.

This direct communication is, for Rosenzweig, the essence and goal of prayer. From the very beginning, in the first poem, the inner life of the person at prayer is intertwined with the words of the traditional prayerbook and the Bible. This encounter grants the human being a place at Sinai. Rosenzweig seizes upon this rereading of the classic biblical expression of presence and assent to the divine call. Ultimately, however, humanity and God jointly partake in the speech that was once the province only of God. Thus even if the vector of revelation always travels from God to the human being, the biblical speech of the revelatory encounter becomes the basis of true dialogue, in which humans then use scriptural words to address God.

The bridge that leads from the scriptural to the liturgical element of Halevi is precisely this dialogue. The call and response that occurs between human beings and God, always through the words of scripture, becomes the very essence of prayer. The commentary on the first two sections of the Halevi volume serves as the site for expressing the longing for God that is the hallmark, for Rosenzweig, of revelation.

With the second half of the book, the yearning gives way to visions of fulfillment. These are the topics that occupy the second half of the Halevi book. Insofar as Rosenzweig accorded a place of prominence to the Jewish people, he was forced to wrestle with a problem that vexed German-Jewish intellectual history since the time of the Enlightenment: could the distinctiveness of the Jewish people be asserted without sustaining damage to their ability to integrate fully into their non-Jewish surroundings?

We see this technique most manifestly in the sub-narrative organized around the theme of light. But unlike his privileged interlocutor, Kant, Cohen wanted to show the suitability, even the ideal nature, of Judaism as a religion of reason. Greene and Hoyt ; New York: Harper, , — Simon Kaplan ; Atlanta: Scholars Press, , 3. On this point, see Gordon, Rozenzweig and Heidegger, The theme of light links the creative activity of God to the people who reflect this light; it then reemerges as the redemptive light that shines upon the future Zion.

For Rosenzweig, the Jewish people understands that its prayers for redemption are to be addressed to the one who creates light and darkness. That this is so reveals their knowledge that their true, pure universalism constitutes their distinctiveness. He speaks not behind the mask of the people, but out of the people of whom he is himself a member. Italics mine. Rosenzweig refers to Deuteronomy ff. He does not, however, give the source of the midrash relating these texts to each other. When the human being confesses faith to — faith not in but to — the unique God, God responds with the love that marks the text of the Bible and shapes the narrative of the people Israel within it.

Its mission is to know and tell this human story to the world. That the people confess faith to, not in, God, suggests that they declare faithfulness to God rather than espousing a belief in God. The latter, for Rosenzweig, implies dogma and content, both of which he believed were anathema to the authentic experience of revelation. The content of this section was shaped in great measure by tensions inherited over the course of a century of contradictory Jewish encounters with Halevi and what he seemed to represent, from the Enlightenment through Weimar.

The history of Halevi interpretation shows that a wide variety of post-Enlightenment readers found in him what they hoped to find. A resurgence of Romantic nationalism attracted Jewish philosophers and activists to Halevi once again, but for different purposes from those 68 69 70 71 Shumuel Werses, Megamot Vetsurot Besifrut Hahaskalah Jerusalem: Magnes Press, And turn-of-the-century Zionist thinkers found in the figure of Halevi himself, especially as pilgrim to the Holy Land, a source for their own efforts to make a Jewish homeland in Palestine a tangible reality.

Like the maskilim, Rosenzweig embraced Halevi as a model of diasporic Jewish life. Rather, he saw in Halevi the model for the construction of a scriptural world, in which the words of the Hebrew Bible and Jewish liturgy would create a distinctive and textually oriented world within the diaspora. Here again, juxtaposition with Star is illuminating. Yet if Zion is unrealizable as a worldly, geopolitical, national reality, it nonetheless can attain an altogether different yet visceral reality as it is conjured through words of the prayer book.

There, the prophetic hope in Zion is alive. No less important, this liturgy is the temporal locus for the realization of Zion. It may thus be concluded that, for Rosenzweig, when these temporal needs are silenced — that is, when messianic time reigns — Zion emerges in full force. For Rosenzweig, a territorial home in Zion was neither, as it was for political Zionists like Herzl, a practical answer to the perennial problem of antisemitism a topic Rosenzweig rarely broached 82 nor, as for cultural Zionists like Ah: ad Ha-am, a solution to the spiritual fragmentation of the Jewish people.

In the famous legend of his last days, Halevi arrived in Jerusalem in his old age, only to be slain while beholding the gates of the city.

Mara Benjamin

Historians have long agreed that Halevi died in Egypt, not at the gates of Jerusalem. But Rosenzweig, like many readers before him, was drawn to the legend nonetheless. Pirozshnikov, The emphasis on death as the apex of the journey to the Holy Land pervades this section. This theme reaches its apex in the final comment on the last poem in the volume, where Rosenzweig underscores the necessity of the journey to Jerusalem as culminating in death, not life.

It is one, without a doubt. But there is still less doubt that the story could not have been much different. This poem must have accompanied the one who composed it into his hour of death. It does not leave room for anything else. But the final note resounds not only with death but also with Zion and the inextricable connection between them. Zion, like the messianic era it stands for, remains reachable only at the point of death or in death, an imagined future that always eludes the present while simultaneously orienting it. The culmination of Hymns and Poems in death had clear personal and existential resonance for Rosenzweig.

In the face of this dire news, Rosenzweig dived into his work on Halevi with great enthusiasm. Although he lived another seven years with the progressively debilitating condition, a consciousness of imminent mortality suffuses the commentary on Halevi that Rosenzweig produced. From Sholem Aleichem to Paul Celan, and even to Philip Roth, an orientation toward Zion, the Holy Land, and finally the State of Israel itself contends with a profound rejection of the possibility of ever finding a home in this world. His allegiance was to the Zion of song, lament, and supplication; to Zion as individual, communal, and cosmic telos.

Though he had little interest in Zionism, Rosenzweig profoundly engaged the Zion of the biblical and liturgical imagination. In the course of time, Rosenzweig softened his position on Zionism yet further. In a remarkable exchange of letters in , Rosenzweig publicly criticized his interlocutor, Benno Jacob, for trivializing the Jewish hope in the Messiah and severing this hope completely from the activities of settlers in Palestine. A heated debate among Rosenzweig scholars on precisely this question was conducted on the listserve of the Textual Reasoning group in March As part of that discussion, Hollander suggested the possibility of differentiating between Zion and Zionism; my argument verifies the fruitfulness of that suggestion.

A letter to Jacob states this position unequivocally: I cannot say exactly how I think of the messianic future. But that is hardly counter-evidence. When it is time, the details will emerge. That I have a belief in such a future I owe to the siddur [Sabbath prayerbook] and mah: zor [holiday prayerbook]. I cannot expunge Zion from this belief. It served as the site in which exilic consciousness and scriptural thinking met; together, they became the foundation for a new type of Jewish orientation in the world.

Rosenzweig identified scripture as the crucial element that had enabled Halevi to carve out a linguistic and religious identity for Jews within his own society. For Rosenzweig, the lesson was clear. Scriptural language held the key to both marginalization and redemption.

Emphasis mine. Visions of biblical power find their form in newly forged words. The passage to which Susman refers is Rosenzweig, Star, This new German linguistic realm would be, in addition, an unheimlich home, foreign to the wider German society and at the same time home to Jews for perhaps the first time since the advent of modernity in Germany. It was an attempt to fashion a distinctive Jewish language out of the past in order to express both the longings for and the belonging to a home in exile. It was a project for which, as he saw it, The Star of Redemption, Hymns and Poems of Yehudah Halevi, and his work at the Lehrhaus had been propaedeutic.

He believed he had undertaken a project that was vital to the regeneration of the language, culture, and society of Germany. He aimed to do nothing less than to demonstrate the hidden Hebraic foundation of German arts, letters, and thought. The translation of the Bible into German that resulted from this effort simultaneously posited the essential contribution of Judaism to German culture and challenged the political and social agenda of classical ethical monotheism with an insistence on the difference of the Jewish contribution to and place within German culture.

The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, , 2: — Schneider, Rosenzweig appealed to a 2 3 4 On the relationship between Jewish Bible translation and politics, see W. The conceit of a common textual patrimony, as Naomi Seidman has rightly noted, was widely invoked by Jews throughout the nineteenth century in an effort to further the cause of German-Jewish integration. Rosenzweig himself embodied the very perceptual asymmetry that his polemic, which I describe in this chapter, both generated and aimed to overcome. But he gave an important twist to this common Enlightenment trope, which had been much touted by Jewish intellectuals and rabbis seeking an argument for inclusion in the imagined and then nascent German nation-state.

As he entered into his late period of writing, Rosenzweig used scripture as the vehicle not for an argument for greater integration, certainly, nor even primarily to make a case for Jewish difference, but to articulate a critique of German identity. This cultural and political critique took shape as a theological and hermeneutic argument concerning the proper approach to the Bible.

It was as if the encounter with the Hebrew Bible itself convinced Rosenzweig that the Jewish scriptures — claimed as specifically Hebraic — were the sole portal to revelation. No longer would the Hebrew Bible hold a limited, if critical, role in embodying a revelation independently conceived; no longer would revelation be identified with the absolutely contentless event, as Rosenzweig had formulated it in his youth.

Yet profound tensions linger within the work of the mature thinker. The most important of these was the difficulty of reconciling his universalist aspirations with an increasingly fierce Jewish particularism. The Bible translation provided Rosenzweig with an important locus for both the expression of this tension and the attempt to overcome it. In this chapter, I refine this argument by showing that Rosenzweig does not simply take the stability of Deutschtum for granted, but rather seeks to redefine it in terms of Judaism. Paul R. But more than that, this hope also necessitated a set of critical hermeneutic claims about the nature of the biblical text that had long occupied a central place in German culture.

A radical commitment not only to the Hebrew language itself but also to Jewish exegesis would demonstrate the misguided, derivative nature of the Christian claim and its apparent triumph in the German cultural sphere. I think only a revised in some parts, much revised; in some parts, little Jewish version of the Luther Bible is possible and allowed. Eventually, Lambert Schneider commissioned the project and Salman Schocken underwrote it when the costs proved too high for Schneider.

Arbeitspapiere zur Verdeutschung der Schrift Dordrecht: M. Nijhoff, , xvi. In it, the highest, strongest, and the unambiguous in Judaism seem to be eliminated, and the truly moral, the hatsnea lechet [walking modestly]14 of our language has been disintegrated and has been transformed, for no reason, into the nuance-rich color and demonic ambiguity of the terminology of salvation.

You have tried to salvage the utopian exactness and chastity of the Hebrew by placing it in a sphere in which it must, of total theological necessity, do without. Admittedly, it has not been proven that it is unattainable in German, but only in the language of the church. Indeed, he argued that anything written in, or translated into, German would necessarily be or become Christian: Only someone who is inwardly convinced of its impossibility can be a translator.

See Micah Beck, , — The specific impossibility is in every case different. In my case its name is Luther. There is no such thing as a simple linguistic fact. The German language became Christian through these three names. He who translates into German must in one way or another translate into a Christian language. The German produced by its greatest stylists and writers had been indelibly stamped by their Christianity, and in leaving their mark on the language, had indelibly impressed upon it the marks of Christian thought.

Engaged in the work of the translation, Rosenzweig started to regard German as inseparable from, and indeed derivative of, Judaism: standard German, which would always bear the marks of the Lutheran Bible upon it, had its roots far deeper than Luther. German, he soon began to argue, bore the imprint of the sacred Hebrew tongue. Letter translated in Anthony David Skinner, ed. When I heard the plan for the new Berlin Community Translation, I thought quite actively about writing a major essay against it and demanding, instead, a Jewish Revised Luther Translation.

It would be a wonderful essay, with plenty of malicious remarks against German Jews. Instead, now I myself have become the sinner. And it came about just as it happens when girls go wrong: imperceptibly, step by step, until the mishap has happened and then — though in this case after six months — the consequences arrive. For whether you believe it or not, this translation began as one of a revised version of Luther. Step by step — and at the beginning only reluctantly me and with heavy heart Buber — did we veer from the text of the Luther translation. But until the end, before he wrote down his own version, Buber for the most part consulted the Luther at every point, making comparisons with other [versions] only afterward; as for me, I only did touch-up work using the Luther text, which lay next to the Hebrew one before me.

Both the adoration heaped upon it by German Jewish youth groups and the contempt it invited from secular intellectuals stemmed from the bold novelty of the translation that claimed to be the recovered authentic voice of the original. That is exactly what we want. Tools Request permission Export citation Add to favorites Track citation. Share Give access Share full text access. Share full text access. Please review our Terms and Conditions of Use and check box below to share full-text version of article.

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