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Freedom and Law: A Jewish-Christian Apologetics

Freedom and Law: A Jewish-Christian Apologetics

Randi Rashkover
Copyright Date: 2011
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 344
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  • Book Info
    Freedom and Law: A Jewish-Christian Apologetics
    Book Description:

    Freedom and Law offers a provocative new view of the relationship between human desire, the production of knowledge, and conceptions of power by developing a nonpolemical account of divine law. Where recent trends in political theology have insisted upon the antagonistic nature of the law, this book presents the paradigm-altering power of a discourse in the nexus between law and freedom. It demonstrates how this nexus catapults religious thought into a free and powerful engagement with nonreligious political, ethical, and social positions.Freedom and Law challenges a contemporary wave of scholarship, including the work of Jacob Taubes, Giorgio Agamben, and Slavoj Zizek, that identifies Jewish law as the originary soucre of polemic between nations and therefore as historically responsible for the exceptionalism that undergirds contemporary conflict. By contrast, Freedom and Law argues that only in an account of revelatory law can divine freedom and human freedom be thought of without contradiction.The first part analyzes the logic of exceptionalism. In the second part, the author argues that one cannot invoke a doctrine of election without rigorous scrutiny of texts that portray an electing God and an elected people. Once we scrutinize these texts, the character of freedom and law within the divine-human relationship shows itself to be different from that found in exceptionalist logics.The third and final part examines the impact of the logic of the law on Jewish-Christian apologetics. Rather than require that one defend one's position to a nonbeliever, this logic situates all epistemological justification within the order or freedom of God. If the condition of the possibility of my claim is the reality of divine freedom, such freedom also justifies the possibility of another's claim.In a significant contribution to the post-ecclesiastical reengagement between religion, critical theory, and the political, Freedom and Law introduces new categories of knowledge and action into Jewish and Christian thinking, unbound by the dialectics of desire that has dominated the discourse of both traditions for centuries. It shows how thinking of law and freedom together may now enable Judaism and Christianity to engage in a historically self-conscious and nonrelativistic relation to each other and to nonbelievers.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-6901-3
    Subjects: Religion

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. INTRODUCTION: Emancipating Law
    (pp. 1-6)

    Freedom and Law: A Jewish-Christian Apologeticsis the result of unfinished business remaining after my account of Jewish and Christian witness inRevelation and Theopolitics: Barth, Rosenzweig and the Politics of Praise. Two issues emerged in particular:

    The question of whether Jews and Christians whose religious lives centered upon doxological praise of God could authentically care for nonbelievers without imposing their theological position upon them

    My own realization thatRevelation and Theopoliticshad only just begun to develop an account of the character and implications of the reality of divine freedom

    This book is the fortunate by-product of my effort...

  4. Part I. The Logic of Exceptionalism

    • ONE Sacrificing Election: Divine Freedom and Its Abuses
      (pp. 9-42)

      The epistolary correspondence between Franz Rosenzweig and Eugene Rosenstock-Huessy written in 1916 during the chaos and anxiety of WWI presents contemporary readers with one of the most perplexing accounts of Jewish-Christian relations to date. This conversation is often hailed as a pioneering example of the benefits of dialogical-thinking for Jewish-Christian relations, but it is no such thing.¹ Little work has been done to shed light on the challenges presented in these letters.² It is the central contention of this chapter that the letters expose two dramatically different approaches to Jewish-Christian relations—what I will refer to as a logic of...

    • TWO Monotheism and Exceptionalism
      (pp. 43-75)

      The central argument of Chapter 1 discussed how Jewish-Christian relations have been paralyzed by Christian accusations of Jewish exceptionalism that fail to identify the logic of exceptionalism operating within Christian theology’s unbridled account of divine sovereignty and concomitant antipathy toward Jewish law. Recent scholarship by Regina Schwartz and Martin Jaffee among others has deepened this Christian antipathy toward Jewish law by rooting the so-called “exceptionalism” of Jewish law in the larger and more damaging context of Jewish monotheism. Not only do these scholars suggest, like Agamben, that Jewish law is divisive, but they also argue that the divisive character of...

    • THREE Modern Judaism, Law, and Exceptionalism
      (pp. 76-98)

      The logic of sacrifice presents itself theologically in one or two expressions. Either it presents a profile of divine sovereignty that as unadjudicated excepts any notion of alterity within or exterior to Godself, or it presents a notion of the unbridled sovereignty of human desire over and against any theological or social limit. In the prior chapter, I illuminated an example of how and when a particular and absolutely asserted conception of God can perpetuate an exceptionalism over and against any reality, divine or otherwise, outside this affirmation. In this chapter, I want to examine the flip side of the...

  5. Part II. The Logic of the Law

    • FOUR The Biblical Theology of Abiding
      (pp. 101-142)

      In Part I of this book, I sought to identify the limits of a theological or an anthropological account of freedom devoid of normative limitation. Chapter 1 introduced the social and philosophical exclusion or exceptionalism that results from an effort to dichotomize between freedom and law and, in particular, the negative consequences for Jewish-Christian relations. Chapter 2 focused on the link between divine power and intolerance when divine power is understood outside a more complete analysis of divine nature as self-sustaining power together with relationality. Chapter 3 attended to the dialectics of human desire, or what are the negative effects...

    • FIVE The New Thinking and the Order of Wisdom
      (pp. 143-184)

      A review of the terrain traversed in the book reveals two strands of thought labeled as the logic of law and the logic of sacrifice. In Chapters 1 and 2, I told parts of a story about a logic of law that presupposes a conception of divine freedom of love and order implicit in Rosenzweig’s reconceptualization of the meaning of Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac and Maimonides’ account of the relation between divine freedom and the creation of the world as other than God inThe Guide of the Perplexed.Chapter 4 contextualized these two conceptions of divine freedom and divine...

  6. Part III. Justification in the Law and Jewish-Christian Apologetics

    • SIX The Law of Freedom, the Freedom of the Law
      (pp. 187-225)

      The preceding discussion and analysis has introduced the blueprint of the logic of the law as I see it emerge in Rosenzweig’s post-Schelling account of the freedom of God. With the discussion of how the freedom of God acts as law and grace upon God as other and world as other, we reach the centerpiece of this analysis: the account of the encounter between divine freedom and human persons. This discussion constitutes the heart of my analysis because as an application of the logic of law to the encounter between God and persons, it offers a reinterpretation of the biblical...

    • SEVEN Christianity and the Law: The Law as the Form of the Gospel
      (pp. 226-274)

      At this stage of our discussion, the central argument of the volume has been presented. Despite the preponderance of theologians and philosophers whose thought has been patterned after a logic of sacrifice and exceptionalism, the theology of the biblical text coupled with the philosophical analyses of Schelling and Rosenzweig expose a logic of law—a logic emergent from the biblical conception of election that funds a nonpolemical account of power and apologetic relations between Jews and Christians, and between Jews, Christians, and the wider society.

      This exegetically and philosophically presented blueprint of the law now in place, we must inquire...

  7. NOTES
    (pp. 275-316)
    (pp. 317-326)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 327-334)