Encounters of Consequence: Jewish Philosophy in the Twentieth Century and Beyond

Encounters of Consequence: Jewish Philosophy in the Twentieth Century and Beyond


Michael Oppenheim

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781934843673 (hardcover) 
Pages: 432 pp.
Publication Date: October 2009

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Encounters of Consequence provides an introduction to and deeper analysis of the situation of Jewish philosophy beginning in the last century. It charts Jewish philosophy’s engagement with modernity and post-modernity along two overlapping axes—issues and persons—which often intersect. Key issues in modern Jewish philosophy are raised, including the nature of Judaism and Jewish identity, the quests for meaning and continuity, the value of remaining a Jew, and the relevance of Jewish law, as well as the challenges of secularism, modern history (including the Holocaust), feminism, and religious pluralism. Featured are many philosophers of encounter: Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, and Emmanuel Levinas, as well as Joseph Soloveitchik, Gershom Scholem, Arthur Cohen, Eliezer Schweid, Emil Fackenheim, and Irving Greenberg.

Michael Oppenheim (PhD University of CaliforniaSanta Barbara) is a professor in the Department of Religion at Concordia University in Montreal. He is the author of Jewish Philosophy and Psychoanalysis: Narrating the Interhuman (2006). He has published books and articles in the areas of modern Jewish philosophy, Judaism in the modern period, philosophy of religion, and psychology of religion.

This book of essays is in Michael Oppenheim’s distinctive voice—intelligent, insightful, and sensitive to all the important issues. Always informed and thoughtful, Oppenheim brings out the best in his subjects. In his criticism, he always seeks to illuminate rather than score points, and in dealing with some of the significant thinkers of our time he makes a valuable and important contribution to all who are interested in modern Jewish thought.
— Rabbi Irving Greenberg, past president of the Jewish Life Network, past chairman of the United States Holocaust Council
Interweaving earlier articles into a new whole, Michael Oppenheim’s book advances and enhances each of his areas of focus: modern Jewish thought, philosophy, and feminism. A study of fascinating originality, Oppenheim explores conceptions of self and the self’s relations to others from the vantage point of the formative twentieth-century Jewish philosophers. Ultimately, it is Oppenheim’s measured sensibilities of comparison and rapprochement that make this volume valuable and unique.
— Barbara E. Galli, professor, author, and translator of major works of Franz Rosenzweig
Michael Oppenheim’s Encounters of Consequence is a wonderful collection of essays showcasing the principal Jewish philosophers of the modern period. He brings these thinkers into dialogue with others, highlighting some of the critical issues of our time. In translating their insights for our mutual understanding, discussion, and critique, Oppenheim opens a parallel door to the transformative critique of feminist theory and philosophy.
— Norma Baumel Joseph, Concordia University
This collection of fifteen reprinted articles provides a scholarly introduction to major philosophers and events in Jewish philosophy from the 20th century to the present. . . . the volume reflects adequately and effectively a plurality of approaches in uncovering a Jewish philosophy of encounter. Recommended.
— Z. Garber, Los Angeles Valley College, in CHOICE: Current Reviews for Academic Libraries

Table of Contents


I. Challenges and Responses
1. Some Underlying Issues of Modern Jewish Philosophy
2. Does Judaism Have Universal Significance? 
II. Philosophers of Encounter
Franz Rosenzweig
3. Death and the Fear of Death in Franz Rosenzweig’s The Star of Redemption
4. The Halevi Book
5. Into Life: Rosenzweig’s Essays on God, Man and the World
Martin Buber
6. The Meaning of Hasidism: Martin Buber and Gershom Scholem
7. Autobiography and the Becoming of the Self: Martin Buber and Joseph Campbell
Emmanuel Levinas
8. Franz Rosenzweig and Emmanuel Levinas: A Midrash or Thought-Experiment
9. Welcoming the Other: The Philosophical Foundation for Pluralism in the Works of Charles Davis and Emmanuel Levinas
III. Jewish Philosophers in the Late Twentieth Century
10. Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Soren Kierkegaard: Reflections on “The Lonely Man of Faith” 
11. Eliezer Schweid: The First Israeli Philosopher
12. Can We Still Stay With Him?: Two Jewish Theologians Confront the Holocaust (Emile Fackenheim and Arthur Cohen)
13. Theology and Community: The Work of Emil Fackenheim
14. Irving Greenberg: A Jewish Dialectic of Hope
15. Feminist Jewish Philosophy: A Response