Sign (Christianity)

I’m going to start posting churches. Here’s why. It’s because I want to find a place for Christianity at Jewish Philosophy Place. Not just Christianity, of course, but definitely Christianity. Really, just about anything that crosses my path. I want this place to be non-judgmental, non-polemical.

With the possible exception of Mordecai Kaplan, modern sources tend to be confrontational vis-à-vis Christianity: Soloveitchik, Buber, Rosenzweig, (as persuasively determined by Leora Batniztky). I’d add Levinas, but I might be wrong here.

Post Holocaust, the antipathies are less pronounced, especially with Rubenstein, Greenberg, and Fackenheim, and with the exception of Berkovits.

Contemporary sources for the interface between modern Judaism  and modern Christianity are Michael Wyschogrod, The Dibru Emet statement, the BOOK, Mark Krell, Alan Brill, Peter Ochs & Steven Kepnes over at the Society for Scriptural Reasoning. And also Daniel Boyarin. There’s a new Jewish commentary out on the New Testament.

New Jewish philosophical interests revolve around immanence and other incarnational, embodied figures, even as Jewish philosophy continues to be anxious about “idolatry,” and not really all that interested in bodies beyond paying lip service. Much more so than the philosophers, Jewish Studies textual-studies scholars are all over the body (Boyarin, Fonrobert, Kessler to name just a few). As for images and the imagination, we see the interest here most articulated in the textual studies scholars such as Elliot Wolfson and Benjamin Sommer. And then there are the modern art historians, who tend to be more interested in Jews than in Judaism.

As for me, I’ll start more simply with aesthetics (architecture, graphic design) and everyday visual encounters. (This is a web journal, after all, despite the philosophical pretensions). So for instance, last Tuesday walking down Columbus Avenue at W.106th.

I like the simple white field, and bold green lettering, adorned by the very simple open book, and crown and cross. It’s a great “sign,” don’t you think?

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
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1 Response to Sign (Christianity)

  1. Joel Gold says:

    It is a nice post. The root of Christianity is Judaism. And Judaism is made complete by the Promised Messiah. The early Christians were almost entirely Jewish. This of course changed over the years and many cannot even relate to the very Jewish early Christian Church. It is good to have communication between modern day Judaism and Christianity.

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