A Finite God of Gaps (Franz Rosenzweig)

Better than the infinite and nameless God is the becoming finite God of the gap in the haze of names as thought out by Franz Rosenzweig as he begins to close his chapter on the metaphysical God in The Star of Redemption, a book I learned to hate but have never stopped loving.

Putting it another way, God’s love was not for the impenitent but for the perfect man. The doctrine of resignation to divine grace counted as a dangerous “secret of secrets,” never to be disclosed, it was taught, to those who do not venerate God, who demur against him, who do not castigate themselves. Yet precisely these lost, hardened, locked souls, these sinners, should be sought out by the love of a God who is not merely “amiable” but who himself loves, regardless of the love of man, nay, on the contrary, first arousing the love of man. But of course to this end it would be necessary for the infinite God to come more finitely close to man, more face-to-face with him, more proper-name to proper-name than any sense of sensible men, any wisdom of wise men could ever admit. The gap between the human-worldly and the divine is indicated precisely in the ineradicability of personal names. It is beyond the power, ascetic or mystic, of men and the world to leap over. It is deeper and more real than any ascetic’s arrogance, any mystic’s conceit will ever admit in his despisal of the “sound and haze” of names earthly and heavenly. And it would, at the same time, have to be recognized and acknowledged as such (Hallo translation, p.39)

With no bathos of excess, Rosenzweig will go on to say in the next paragraph that in myth and metaphysics the human ceases to be merely human and the world ceases to be world (p.40). This attention to gaps is an important point of distinction and individuation that I recall Rosenzweig making elsewhere, but am forgetting where.

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. http://religion.syr.edu
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