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Book Reviews 163 pose for understanding processes of remembrance that engage her more at the cultural and political levels, not the cognitive or psychological ones. David Thelen TheJou~I~AmmmnH~rory Indiana University DUemmas in Modem Jewish Thought: The Dialectics of Revelation and History, by Michael M. Morgan. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992. 181 pp. Michael Morgan, Professor ofPhilosophy andJewish Studies at Indiana University, here presents a series ofessays, written within the last decade and a half, which explore the dialectical relationship of revelation and history. The complexity and tensions ofthat relationship are aptly captured in the first essay of the book, in which Morgan writes (p. 12) that "genuine Jewish religiosity can neither dispose of nor be enslaved to history. Judaism is about history and transcendence and their intermingling." The principal figures examined from this dual political and metaphysical perspective are Spinoza, Mendelssohn, leo Strauss, Franz Rosenzweig, and Emil Fackenheim. The book is dedicated to Fackenheim· and is thoroughly infused with his teachings. While not unaware of problems in his mentor's approach, Morgan is a loyal and loving disciple, as readers of other works of his will know. For Morgan, Fackenheim has best negotiated the chasm between the past and the present which modernity introduced and which the Holocaust threatened to make inseparable. Where the critical investigations ofJewish history and literature in the modern age, beginning with Spinoza, had the effect of objectifying and hence distancing the past from the present, relativizing the absolutist and universalistic claims of traditional Judaism, the Holocaust shattered, or threatened to shatter, all continuity of experience and thought, destroying the very image of God as well as of man. In finding a way to affirm Jewish life after the Holocaust, Fackenheim, in Morgan's opinion, was able also to confront the challenge of history; not to deny it, but not to allow it to establish secular and relativistic judgments either. The Divine presence is detected even in Auschwitz, and hence in all and every historical event; and the validity, even necessity, of privileging balakba is affirmed (d. p. 79). The actions ofHolocaust victims who kept their faith in full historical awareness of their fate serve as the 164 SHOFAR Winter 1996 Vol. 14, No.2 linchpin ofFackenheim's theory, and their behavior is seen as dictating the actions ofJews after the war. Fackenheim views the Jewish opposition to Hitler as driven by a command of such an absolute kind as to be divine in origin, hallowing and shaping all subsequent forms ofJewish life. Morgan accepts and adopts this theological interpretation of the Holocaust, however speculative it may be. He defends it against the interpretations of other contemporary and more traditional theologians, particularly Eliezer Berkovits and Irving Greenberg (pp. 97-102). He also issues a broadside against Jewish historians and professors who "flatten out Auschwitz" (p. 149) with their historicistic, relativistic studies. There is a polemical tone to a number of these essays, perhaps occasioned by the journals in which they first appeared. This may also account for the repetition found in these essays, as well as for the frequent surveying and attendant simplification of the ideas of his predecessors. We are frequently told that this is not the time, or place, to pursue a given idea, a strategy more suited to an article than to a book. Morgan believes with Fackenheim that there is a necessary disjunction between historical, critical knowledge of a subject and religious appropriation of it. He is sympathetic to Fackenheim's attempt to overcome this impasse, as regards the allegedly incomprehensible Holocaust, by adopting a "midrashic framework" (p. 116). If this strategy entails treating the Holocaust in a didactic and metaphorical manner, as midrash requires, then the "historical" dimension of this approach may well be questioned. Fackenheim's approach to history is no more historical than the attempts made by Mendelssohn, Buber, and Rosenzweig, which Morgan correctly recounts. Each thinker has an historical point of departure but then interprets the mundane from within a religious and transcendental perspective. As Morgan concludes, Fackenheim's theology is only partially defensible philosophically, ultimately resting on the private life and intuitions of one individual (p. 124). Morgan has little patience with the traditional...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 163-165
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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