Modern Jewish Thinkers: From Mendelssohn to Rosenzweig

Modern Jewish Thinkers: From Mendelssohn to Rosenzweig

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Gershon Greenberg

Series: Emunot: Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah
ISBN: 9781936235315 (hardcover) / 9781936235469 (paper)
Pages: 498 pp.
Publication Date: October 2011

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Historical conditions at the end of the eighteenth century opened an arena between the formerly autonomous Jewish community and the Christian world, which yielded new departure points for philosophy, including revelation and philosophical reason, dialectically considered; rationalism as intellection and advancing consciousness; heteronomous revelation; historicity; and universal morality. In Modern Jewish Thinkers, Greenberg restructures the history of modern Jewish thought comprehensively, providing English translations of Reggio, Krokhmal, Maimon, Samuel Hirsch, Formstecher, Steinheim, Ascher, Einhorn, Samuel David Luzzatto, and Hermann Cohen, published here for the first time. The availability of these sources fills a gap in the field and stimulates new directions for teaching and scholarly research in modern Jewish thought, going beyond Spinoza and Mendelssohn at one end, and to popular twentieth-century figures on the other.


Gershon Greenberg (PhD Columbia University) works at American University in Washington, DC, in the fields of Holocaust religious thought, America-Holy Land, and 19th century German-Jewish thought, and has taught in the departments of Jewish thought at Israel’s major universities.


Greenberg offers an exceptional anthology of carefully selected, well-organized, well-introduced German Jewish and Hebrew texts. Masterfully translated, concisely commented upon, and richly annotated, these texts effectively widen English readers’ cognitive horizon by providing clear translations of seminal writings . . . [which] previously have been largely unavailable in English. Their availability should help restructure the way modern Jewish philosophy is taught and stimulate new research. Greenberg gives voice to the magnanimous expression of these unfortunately too-often-neglected texts, preventing them from entering oblivion for the English-speaking academy. This anthology may serve as a crucial key for recovering what Maimonides refers to as the many branches of science cultivated by the ancient Hebrews and transmitted orally but neglected in the course of history in consequence of tyranny. The book will be indispensible for scholars, students, and laypeople pursing Jewish studies but also of interest to those pursuing philosophy in general. Highly recommended.
— D. B. Levvy, Touro College, Lander College for Women, in CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries, November 2011
By making available well-chosen, well-introduced and clearly translated texts by so many nineteenth-century thinkers hitherto unavailable in English, Gershon Greenberg’s Modern Jewish Thinkers will change the way the subject is taught. We can now put in students’ hands a single volume that will guide us through the labyrinthine twists and turns of Jewish philosophy from Mendelssohn to the interwar period. This is a major achievement and a major event for the classroom!
— David Sorkin, Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Modern Jewish Thinkers is a quintessential anthology, literally a ‘gathering of flowers’ from the garden of modern Jewish thought. Greenberg has selected and translated from German and Hebrew an array of the most seminal texts, hitherto largely unavailable in English, which exemplify various trajectories of Jewish theological encounter with the challenge of modern philosophical culture. This richly annotated source book will surely be indispensable for scholars and students alike.
— Paul Mendes-Flohr, The University of Chicago