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JULY 2009

ISSN 0017-8160


Harvard Theological Review

The Harvard Theological Review is partially funded by the foundation established under the will of Mildred Everett,
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development of scholarly understanding and interpretation.

François Bovon

David D. Hall, Jon D. Levenson, Kevin Madigan, and Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza

Members of the Faculty of Divinity

Margaret Studier

Cavan Concannon, Brian Doak, Aryay Bennett Finkelstein, Jonathan Kaplan, Piotr Malsyz,
John Robichaux, Bryan L. Wagoner

Anne Browder, Eve Feinstein, Rebecca Hancock, Christine Thomas

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From Resurrection to Immortality:
Theological and Political Implications
in Modern Jewish Thought*
Leora Batnitzky
Princeton University

Hans Jonas began his 1961 Ingersoll Lecture by acknowledging the “undeniable
fact” “that the modern temper is uncongenial to the idea of immortality.”1 Jonas
nonetheless concluded his lecture by affirming that “although the hereafter is
not ours . . . we can have immortality . . . when in our brief span we serve our
threatened mortal affairs and help the suffering immortal God.”2 While he may not
have realized it, Jonas’s words capture what I shall argue is the dominant view of
immortality in modern Jewish thought. Underlying this view is an effort to refute
materialist conceptions of human existence without committing to any particularly
theological or traditionally metaphysical notion of immortality.
Like Jonas, I am deliberately using the term immortality in a very general sense
to refer to the idea that the meaning of human life transcends human finitude or
mortality. This loose conception of immortality suggests that there is some dimension
of an individual’s life that endures after death, whether in the form of a soul or the
remnants of the individual’s deeds. Thinkers as philosophically and ideologically
diverse as Moses Mendelssohn (1729–1786), the father of German-Jewish thought
and a theorist of modern liberalism; Samson Raphael Hirsch (1808–1888), the
intellectual father of modern Orthodoxy; Hermann Cohen (1842–1918), the neo*
I am very grateful to Dean William Graham to have been given the honor of delivering the 2008
Ingersoll Lecture on Immortality at Harvard University as well as to Professor Jon D. Levenson for
this invitation and even more so for all that I have learned and continue to learn from his work. I
would also like to thank Carol Bakhos, Lawrie Balfour, Martha Himmelfarb, Robert Lebeau, Elias
Sacks, and Samuel Moyn for their comments on earlier versions of this paper.
Hans Jonas, “Immortality and the Modern Temper,” HTR 55 (1962) 1.
Ibid., 20.

HTR 102:3 (2009) 279–96



Kantian, liberal German-Jewish philosopher; Franz Rosenzweig (1886–1929), the
existentialist Jewish philosopher; and Emmanuel Levinas (1906–1995), the French
phenomenologist often associated with postmodernism all affirm a minimal but
assured position that the material world—whether defined by the laws of nature or
by the facts of historical context—does not and cannot fully capture the meaning
of our humanity.
My interest is less in the details of various modern Jewish thinkers’ claims about
immortality—though I will get into some of these details—than in the purpose
that claims about or gestures toward immortality serve in modern Jewish thought.
Insight into modern Jewish views of immortality comes not only from what
modern Jewish thinkers say about immortality but also from what they do not say.
As Jon Levenson has recently reminded us, in premodern (biblical, rabbinic, and
medieval) Jewish thought, the idea of immortality went hand in hand with a belief
in resurrection.3 In contrast, modern Jewish thinkers reject, downplay, or make no
mention of resurrection while nonetheless affirming a conception of immortality.
The question I would like to explore is, why do modern Jewish thinkers retain a
notion of immortality but not of resurrection?
The answer is not, in my judgment, that resurrection is more philosophically
embarrassing than immortality. This may have been a consideration for eighteenthcentury rationalists and late nineteenth-century neo-Kantians (although, as I will
argue, the matter is far more complex in the cases of both Moses Mendelssohn
and Hermann Cohen). In the context of modern philosophical schools such as
existentialism and phenomenology, however, immortality would seem to be as
problematic as resurrection. Yet modern Jewish support for immortality and
rejection of resurrection is less surprising when considered in the context of
the theological-political framework of modern Judaism, in which, like political
modernity more broadly, religion is (at least in theory) divorced from politics. As
modern Europeans debated whether to grant Jews rights of citizenship in the modern
nation state, Jewish thinkers of a variety of ideological stripes were continually at
pains to emphasize that the Jewish community did not and would not constitute a
state within a state.4 The Jewish religion, they argued, did not demand any sort of
political loyalty that would be in tension with the loyalty required by the state. In
making this argument, these diverse Jewish thinkers all equated politics with the
modern nation state alone and all contended that Judaism was not political.5

Jon D. Levenson, Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel: The Ultimate Victory of the God
of Life (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006). See also Kevin Madigan and Jon D. Levenson,
Resurrection: The Power of God for Christians and Jews (New Haven: Yale University Press,
On this particular phrase and its historical implications, see Jacob Katz, “A State within a
State: The History of an Anti-Semitic Slogan,” in Emancipation and Assimilation: Studies in Modern
Jewish History (Chicago: Gregg International Publishers, 1972) 47–76.
For more on the equation of politics with the modern nation state and hence with a particularly
modern conception of sovereignty in modern Jewish thought, see Leora Batnitzky, “Beyond



I would like to suggest that because resurrection is associated with collective
identity in classical Jewish thought, many modern Jewish thinkers had trouble
acknowledging the concept. The idea of immortality, in contrast, offers the
possibility of affirming the enduring value and significance of the Jewish tradition
while simultaneously confirming that there is no tension between being Jewish
and being a citizen of the modern nation-state. The problem of resurrection is thus
less a philosophical problem than a political one. We will see that Benedict de
Spinoza’s (1632–1677) criticism of Moses Maimonides (1135–1204) on this topic,
and Moses Mendelssohn’s subsequent attempt to argue for Jewish emancipation in
the context of Spinoza’s critique of Maimonides, proved the turning points after
which the terms of modern Jewish considerations of immortality were set. The
downplaying of resurrection combined with the retention of immortality constitutes
a movement away from traditional Judaism, with its dual theological and political
dimensions, toward a Judaism that is what we today call a “religion.” In even more
contemporary terms, this trend in Jewish thought marks a transition from “religion”
to “spirituality.” As I will suggest in the conclusion of this paper, the downplaying of
resurrection combined with the retention of immortality in modern Jewish thought
raises questions not just about modern Judaism but also about the place and limits
of religion in modern political orders.

Two basic points made by Jon Levenson in Resurrection and the Restoration of
Israel are essential for our discussion. First, as Levenson’s title indicates, the notion
of resurrection goes hand in hand with the restoration of Israel. To be sure, the history
of Jewish thought, rabbinic and otherwise, does not present one systematic view of
immortality or resurrection. However, it is helpful to recognize that from a classical
rabbinic point of view resurrection is not individual but communal. An expansive
dimension of resurrection is central to the Christian understanding of the concept
as well. As Oscar Cullman stated in his 1955 Ingersoll Lecture, “The Christian
hope relates not just to my individual fate, but to the entire creation.”6 Second, as
Levenson succinctly concludes, “To the rabbis, resurrection without the restoration
of Israel, including its renewed adherence to Torah, was incomprehensible. And
without the expectation of resurrection, the restoration of Israel would be something
less than what the rabbis thought the Torah had always intended it to be—the
ultimate victory of the God of life.”7 Put another way, the theological and political
dimensions of resurrection cannot be separated. From the perspective of classical
Sovereignty? Modern Jewish Political Theory,” in Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy (ed.
David Novak and Martin Kavka; New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2010).
Oscar Cullmann, “Immortality of the Soul and Resurrection of the Dead: The Witness of the
New Testament,” in Immortality and Resurrection: Four Essays (ed. Krister Stendahl; New York:
Macmillan, 1965) 28.
Levenson, Resurrection, 229.



Jewish thought, theology without politics—the miracle of resurrection without the
restoration of the particular people who newly commit to the observance of God’s
law—is as problematic as politics without theology, or the restoration of Israel
without the ultimate miracle of the God of life.
At stake in appreciating the interconnection between resurrection and the
restoration of Israel in classical Jewish thought is the very question of Jewish
election. The intimate interplay between resurrection and Israel’s restoration
suggests that resurrection—the ultimate redemption of history—cannot be detached
from the particular fate of the people of Israel. To be sure, the eschatological
redemption marked by resurrection is universal. But the path toward universality
cannot be detached from Israel’s particular destiny. In rabbinic Judaism, the status
of resurrection and the relation between Jewish particularity and universality come
together in a well-known discussion in the final chapter of tractate Sanhedrin in
the Babylonian Talmud:
All of Israel has a share in the world to come, as it is written: And your
people, all of them righteous, shall possess the land for all time; they are the
shoot that I planted, My handiwork in which I glory (Isa 60:21). And these are
those who do not have a share in the world to come: He who says the resurrection of the dead is not in the Torah, he who says that the Torah is not from
Heaven, and the skeptic [who denies God’s providence] (m. Sanh. 10:1).

Clearly, from a rabbinic point of view, belief in resurrection of the dead is essential.
All of Israel has a place in the world to come, but those who deny resurrection
remove themselves from the community of Israel, thereby denying themselves a
place among the newly born people.
But do others, that is, non-Jews, have a place in the world to come? Does not
the God of life who restores the people of Israel restore all righteous people to
life? The rabbis debated this question and offered a number of opinions, including
Rabbi Joshua’s, which suggested that those righteous Gentiles who followed the
seven laws given to Noah after the flood also have a share in the world to come.8
Maimonides’ interpretation of Rabbi Joshua’s opinion would be decisive for
modern Jewish understandings of immortality and resurrection. Let us turn first
to Maimonides’ view of resurrection and then to modern Jewish interpretations of
Maimonides’ view.
Maimonides is well known not only for what he said about resurrection but also
for what he did not say. In particular, Maimonides does not mention resurrection
in his magnum opus, The Guide of the Perplexed, though he does affirm the
immortality of the soul. This omission was not lost on Maimonides’ critics and he
was vehemently attacked for his apparent denial of the resurrection of the body.9


T. Sanh. 13:2.
For an overview of this subject, see Daniel Jeremy Silver, Maimonidean Criticism and the
Maimonidean Controversy 1180–1240 (Leiden: Brill, 1965).

what matters is that Maimonides emphasizes the intimate and irreducible connection between theology and politics implied by the belief in resurrection. Tel Aviv: Universitat Tel-Aviv. as denial of resurrection “leads to the denial of miracles. 1982) 35. the former corresponding to Torah.” In the context of Maimonides’ broader argument in the Guide. the denial of miracles—and what is resurrection but the greatest of miracles?—“destroys the Torah of our teacher Moses in its principle . Shlomo Pines. Mikhael Shvarts. denial of the hope for resurrection “destroys the Torah 10 Moses Maimonides. 3 vols. and trans. intro. Maimonides on the Origin and Nature of the World (New York: Cambridge University Press. . 1929) 2:25 where Maimonides uses the term sharia as opposed to fiqh. 74. 1963) 2:25. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 6 and 7.”12 Why does the rejection of miracles destroy the Torah? For Maimonides. If there is no possibility of providence.” in Persecution and the Art of Writing (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 2 vols. See Moreh nevukhim le-Rabenu Mosheh ben Maimon (trans. 13 This is the argument of ch. Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 25 of book 2 of the Guide. Fred Rosner. For another view. 12 Moses Maimonides. ch. Jerusalem: Yunovits. and indeed much has been said.11 However. 1995) esp. chs. there is no possibility of revelation and no possibility of the Law.13 For these reasons. 2005) esp. 11 On the broader topic of how to read Maimonides and the significance of his claims about resurrection. Leo Strauss.10 There is much to say. Solomon Munk. Creation. Maimonides responded to his critics with his Treatise on Resurrection. that the soul will never return to the body and that it is impossible for that to occur. 4.LEORA BATNITZKY 283 Toward the end of his life. 1952) esp. See also Kenneth Seeskin. I have altered the translation slightly by translating Torat Moshe Rabbeinu as “the Torah of our teacher Moses” rather than “the Law of our teacher Moses. about the relation between Maimonides’ Treatise and his other works as well as about what his views really were. . For such a denial (of the resurrection of the dead) leads to the denial of miracles and the denial of miracles is equivalent to denying the existence of God and the abandonment of our faith. Interpreting Maimonides: Studies in Methodology. the latter to a narrower conception of law (halakhah).” as I believe this conveys the broader sense of Maimonides’ claim. and reduces to inanity all the hopes and threats that the Law of Moses has held out. . see Marvin Fox. the possibility of miracles implies the possibility of God’s creation of the world. Guide of the Perplexed (ed. “The Literary Character of The Guide of the Perplexed. in which he explicitly embraced the doctrine of resurrection: We vehemently deny and we cleanse ourselves before the Almighty God of the (accusation attributed to us) . see Leo Strauss.. in turn. . then the world is the way it is for a reason (whatever that reason may be). however. . New York: Jason Aaronson. for if God created the world. For we consider the resurrection of the dead to be a cardinal principle of the Torah. 2002) 2:25 as well as Dalālat al-hāirīn (ed. Treatise on Resurrection (trans. In the above quotation from the Treatise it might appear that resurrection is a purely theological matter. for our purposes. implies divine providence.” which is “equivalent to denying the existence of God and the abandonment of our faith.

”14 However one interprets Maimonides’ claims about resurrection in relation to his larger corpus. . For an individual can only attain all this through a political association. *** It is precisely the splitting of theology from politics that marks much of modern Jewish thought and particularly the claims of those Jewish thinkers who emphasize some conception of immortality while attempting to ignore resurrection. it being already known that man is political by nature. but in a letter to Henry Oldenburg he states that any notion of resurrection must be understood spiritually because “Christians interpret spiritually all those doctrines which the Jews accepted literally” (7 February. . 1676. claiming that belief in miracles is in fact a denial of God because the notion of a miracle implies that God’s laws are not necessary. . Ethics and Selected Letters.”16 14 Maimonides. Samuel Shirley. Leiden: Brill. . Spinoza denies the possibility of miracles. and reduces to inanity all the hopes and threats that the Law of Moses has held out. it is clear that he follows the rabbinic tradition in positing an intimate connection between the theological hope for the miracle of resurrection and the political form this hope would take in restoring the people of Israel. As for the welfare of the soul. Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (trans.284 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW in its principle . 3:27. and while politics is not the ultimate end of the Torah. the political order is a necessary (though not sufficient) condition for any higher spiritual aspirations of the human being. As for the welfare of the body. translated and included in The Ethics and Selected Letters [trans. 1989) 125–26. it comes about by the improvement of their ways of living with one another. Guide of the Perplexed. in the Ethics Spinoza seems to affirm some notion of immortality: “The human mind cannot be absolutely destroyed with the body but something of it remains which is eternal. the famous Jewish heretic Benedict de Spinoza set the parameters for modern Jewish arguments about immortality. . it consists in the multitude’s acquiring correct opinions.15 Nevertheless. Indianapolis: Hacket. As with so many issues in modern Jewish thought. As Maimonides puts it in the Guide: “The Torah of Moses our teacher as a whole aims at two things: the welfare of the soul and the welfare of the body. the Torah is fundamentally political in nature. . 1982] 255). 15 .” The destruction of the Torah in principle as well as all the hopes and threats that the Law has held out is thus not of merely theological import but of political significance as well. . Benedict de Spinoza. Spinoza does not mention resurrection explicitly in the Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. 16 Spinoza. As Maimonides makes clear throughout his work. 215. . This cannot be achieved in any way by one isolated individual. Samuel Shirley. In his Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. See especially Spinoza’s claim that that any suggestion of a supernatural order would “necessarily be opposed to the order which God maintains eternally in nature through her universal laws” (130).

19 According to Maimonides.” On the one hand. and none the less has right opinions and a true plan of life. a non-Jew must not only accept and observe the seven commandments given to Noah but must do so “because the Holy One. 61. . Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Tractatus Theologico-Politicus. Mishneh Torah (trans. Spinoza writes: If a man is absolutely ignorant of the Scriptures. in his Law of Kings. On the other hand. and not like the documents prophetically revealed to Moses. 18 Spinoza. provided that he accepts them and performs them because the Holy One. for they hold that true opinions and a true plan of life are of no service in attaining blessedness. is less the philosophical intricacies of Spinoza’s position (obviously a subject far beyond the scope of this paper) than the political contention about Judaism that he makes in the Tractatus in connection with his declaration about immortality in the Ethics. .”20 17 For a recent discussion of this issue. Maimonides ventures openly to make this assertion. Maimonides’ view undermines the true meaning of the divine law. blessed be He. [because] it does not depend on the truth of any historical narrative whatsoever. Eliyahu Touger. which Spinoza defines as “universal or common to all men.18 Spinoza refers here to Maimonides’ commentary. acceptance of the source of the law is theological—the righteous gentile acknowledges that the law comes from God and not from his own reason. Maimonides writes: A heathen who accepts the seven commandments [given to Noah] and observes them scrupulously is a “righteous gentile” (me-hasidei ‘umot ha-’olam) and will have a portion in the world-to-come. 22 vols. for the law was given to Moses who gave it to the Jewish people. see Steven Nadler. . . New York: Moznaim. Spinoza’s Heresy: Immortality and the Jewish Mind (New York: Oxford University Press. such acceptance is also political. translation modified. . 1987) 8:11.17 What concerns us here. in order to earn a place in the world to come. blessed be He. commanded them in the Law and made known through Moses. But if his observance thereof is based upon a reasoned conclusion he is not deemed a resident alien (ger toshav). 19 Moses Maimonides. commanded them in the Law and made them known through Moses. if their possessors have arrived at them by the light of reason only. however. 2001). 20 Spinoza. on the aforementioned talmudic discussion about who has a portion in the world to come.LEORA BATNITZKY 285 The meaning of Spinoza’s claim about immortality remains as vexing for his interpreters as resurrection is for Maimonides’ interpreters. or one of the pious gentiles (me-hasidei ‘umot ha-’olam) . our teacher. that the observance thereof had been enjoined upon the descendants of Noah even before the Law was given. 79–80. he is absolutely blessed and truly possesses in himself the spirit of Christ. our teacher. . From Spinoza’s perspective. The Jews are of a contrary way of thinking.

23 However. for Maimonides. or theology. The Death of Socrates (translated from the German. As noted above. On Religious Power and Judaism (trans. In his 1783 Jerusalem. or. or. 1983). for Spinoza. 1789). Maimonides’ view that the righteous gentile not only exhibits certain behavior but also possesses certain beliefs is inherently problematic because it depends upon the truth of a particular historical narrative. This perspective came to define the political. Moses Mendelssohn argued that Judaism in no way contradicted enlightened reason but rather complemented it. in contrast. Needless to say. The questions of immortality and resurrection thus became as much modern political questions as they were metaphysical ones. Mendelssohn also offered a sustained Enlightenment argument for the immortality of the soul. Allan Arkush. par. . which is contemplation of the divine (or the welfare of the soul). But on the questions of immortality and resurrection. condition for the ultimate goal of human life. the latter two require the former. 5. Phädon. Hanover: University of New England Press. making no mention of resurrection. it would be easy to conclude that modern Jewish conceptions of immortality simply mirrored the philosophical fashions of the day. Mendelssohn’s claims about both Judaism and enlightened reason as well as about immortality are as political as they are metaphysical. but for Maimonides the welfare of the body is not an end in itself.. “The Law as a whole aims at two things: the welfare of the soul and the welfare of the body. Political Treatise (trans. Cooper. 2000) ch. but Spinoza sees politics as an end in itself.286 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW For Maimonides. especially in the German-Jewish context.21 Religion. such a preference for one historical narrative undermines the goal of harmony on the basis of which all theological beliefs should be judged. that is. on the issue of who does and does not have a place in the world to come.” The political order aims at the welfare of the body. Rather. and theological framework in which modern Jewish thinkers found themselves. philosophical. politics is a necessary. Mendelssohn’s conception of Judaism and his view of immortality conform as much to an idea of a universal enlightened reason 21 Benedict de Spinoza. London: J. Spinoza follows Maimonides in viewing the goal of human life as contemplation of the divine. Jerusalem. 2. Indianapolis: Hackett.22 In his 1767 Phädon. For Spinoza. there are profound theological and philosophical differences between Maimonides and Spinoza. In fact. their difference is perhaps most fundamentally political. there is no tension between the particular historical narrative of the divine law and its universal implications. 22 Moses Mendelssohn. the aim of the state is “peace and security of life” (pax vitaeque securitas). 23 Moses Mendelssohn. For Spinoza. though not sufficient. 2d ed. *** Without appreciating the political background of modern Jewish thought. is a means toward promoting political harmony. Samuel Shirley.

Frommann. and Jonathan Hess. and affects only mind and heart. 26 Mendelssohn. David Sorkin. . knows of no punishment. As he put it. 130. Spinoza’s philosophy was of course familiar to the German Enlightenment.”24 As a political corollary to this philosophical point. Jerusalem. Berlin: F. It knows of no coercion. the purpose of the Jewish community “is collective edification. Germans. that Judaism was a fundamentally immoral religion. Gesammelte Schriften. 1992). .27 In Mendelssohn’s own day. properly understood. Mendelssohn vehemently opposed the idea that the Jewish community should retain its autonomy in matters of civil law. captures the thrust of his argument. see Allan Arkush. 1994). still maintained in his day. On Religious Power in Judaism. Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment (Berkeley: University of California Press. 25 For recent work on this topic.LEORA BATNITZKY 287 as they do to the very modern notion that theological beliefs are to be judged on the basis of their ability to contribute to a harmonious political order. John Caspar Lavater. Mendelssohn responded with an eloquent plea for the separation of Church and State.25 Mendelssohn especially rejected the Jewish community’s claim. “La vision des juifs et du judaïsme dans l’œuvre de Pierre Bayle. see Miriam Yardeni. This means that Judaism. 1929–1984) 8:21. Judaism “as religion. Mendelssohn was deeply uncomfortable with Maimonides’ conceptions of immortality and resurrection. uses only the staff [called] gentleness. Mendelssohn created the very category of Jewish religion by separating Judaism from politics and the individual Jew from the corporate Jewish community.”26 For both theological and political reasons. to the right to excommunicate. As he put it. As is well known.” is not concerned with power and therefore does not conflict with the possibility of the integration of Jews into the modern nation-state. or “Jerusalem. Mendelssohn published his Jerusalem as a response to the public challenge of a Swiss theologian. Jerusalem. Miriam Yardeni. stressing that Jews should receive civil rights as individuals and not as a corporate entity. 1996). Voltaire had 24 Moses Mendelssohn. through which we acknowledge our gratitude for God’s benefactions . as was Pierre Bayle’s claim. Mendelssohn argues that by definition the state concerns power and coercion while religion. or. 27 On Bayle’s view of Judaism. Moses Mendelssohn and the Enlightenment (Albany: State University Press of New York. no other penalty than the one the remorseful sinner voluntarily imposes on himself. does not. The title of Mendelssohn’s response. . This was a twofold challenge because Mendelssohn had to defend the rationality of Judaism and hence Judaism’s compatibility with the German Enlightenment without offending his Christian interlocutors. Jews and the Claims of Modernity (New Haven: Yale University Press. derived from Spinoza’s criticism of Maimonides. Jubiläumsausgabe (24 vols. Leiden: Brill. either to refute Christianity or to convert to Christianity. 1980) 86–95.” in Les Juifs dans l’histoire de France (ed. participation in the effusion of the heart.

whose expressed purpose is a defense of immortality. 2008). See also Arkush’s very helpful explication of this issue and its relation to Mendelssohn in Moses Mendelssohn and the Enlightenment. Mendelssohn provides a direct political analog to his philosophical description of the egalitarian nature of immortality. concerns the fate of the people of Israel. in his private correspondence. we would be left in an absurd situation. Mendelssohn argues. 171. “a general war of moral beings where everyone has right on his side. 31 Mendelssohn. including in his Phädon. Mendelssohn avers. despite repeated requests. However. Maimonidean or otherwise. which. Mendelssohn’s political argument for immortality amounts to a reductio ad absurdum: the soul is necessarily immortal. Mendelssohn expressed his profound discomfort with the political and theological implications of Maimonides’ views: “These things are more difficult for me than flinty rock. and Spinoza.” in Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 56 (1990) 51–81. “Theological Impediments to a Hebrew Version of Mendelssohn’s Phaedon.”32 Setting aside the question of the merits of this argument. Mendelssohn recognized that his conception of immortality did not conform to rabbinic doctrine. Gesammelte Schriften Jubiläumsausgabe.30 Perhaps with Spinoza’s criticism of Maimonides in mind. similar beings are to meet a similar destiny and consequently that the same fate awaits the whole human race. Voltaire’s Jews and Modern Jewish Identity: Rethinking the Enlightenment (New York: Routledge. 32 Ibid. it would be impossible to reconcile the state’s right “to demand the sacrifice of the life of any citizen for the welfare of the whole” with the individual’s competing right to the supreme good of life. . from East to the West. Should all the dwellers on earth. Bayle. 30 On this subject. I thank Elias Sacks for pointing this argument out to me. not intended for publication. 1773). Without immortality.”31 In the Phädon’s final argument for immortality. 145–51. as we have seen. Phädon. 16 (Letter 154. to have his Phädon translated into Hebrew seems only to confirm this conclusion. the important point for us is that Mendelssohn wants to be very clear in affirming the right of the state to demand the sacrifice of the life of the citizen as well as the citizen’s individual right 28 On Voltaire. 187.288 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW extended this claim in asserting that the Jewish religion was in fact unsurpassed in its moral depravity. he never mentioned resurrection in any of his work published in German. The fact that Mendelssohn refused. 29 Mendelssohn. other than ourselves descend into the pit of perdition and be an object of condemnation to all human beings if they do not believe in the Torah which was given as an inheritance only to the congregation of Jacob?”29 Clearly.. In fact.28 Mendelssohn did not publicly disagree with Maimonides. see Noah Rosenblum’s excellent study. because if it were not. dated October 26. Mendelssohn stresses in Phädon that immortality in no way concerns any national or particular group identity: “I am of the opinion also that in the very wise plan of creation. see most recently Harvey Mitchell.

one of the main objections to Jewish emancipation was that Jews constituted a state within a state and therefore could not be trusted to serve in the military. 1 of Resurrection and the Restoration of Israel. and especially in regard to questions about the relations between the Jewish community. Strikingly. In the context in which he wrote.LEORA BATNITZKY 289 to life. . The theological notion of immortality is inherently egalitarian. For instance. Chapters of the Fathers: Commentary to Pirkei Avot (Jerusalem: Feldheim. We have seen that while he strongly rejects Spinoza’s description of the Jewish view of immortality. finally actualized.” Hirsch writes. The Samson Raphael Hirsch Publications Society. Samson Raphael Hirsch. This was a position that Mendelssohn spent much of his intellectual life attempting to refute. Jerusalem: Feldheim. one in the world to come. See also Jakob J. just as Judaism. and one in this world. 34 Samson Raphael Hirsch. The same commentary can be found in English in Samson Raphael Hirsch. 1967). Mendelssohn nonetheless adheres to Spinoza’s framework in his conception of the relation between theology and politics. Hirsch shifts discussion away from resurrection toward immortality and while doing so he interprets references to the community of Israel as references to individual Jews as well as to individual people in general. a number of rather diverse modern Jewish thinkers did occasionally mention resurrection.: Jewish Lights. entitled “The Modern Jewish Preference for Immortality” (1–22).”34 In its universalist and theologically vague 33 See Neil Gillman’s discussion of Abraham Geiger’s translations of liturgical references to resurrection which aimed to affirm immortality and reject resurrection in The Death of Death: Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought (Woodstock. as a religion without dogma. the nineteenth-century spiritual founding father of what is today called Orthodox Judaism. . . “ ‘Immortality–Yes. the state. *** When the liberal society that Mendelssohn had hoped for was. Jon Levenson discusses these publications and offers an overview of the broad affirmation of immortality and rejection of resurrection in modern Jewish thought in ch. Mendelssohn asserts. Petuchowski. Whatever good we achieve in loyal obedience to God here below becomes a spiritual accomplishment which will accompany us into the world to come and into the presence of our Father in Heaven. 1987) 414. does not undermine but rather supports enlightened reason. Vt. shares with Mendelssohn the tendency to avoid the subject of resurrection while retaining immortality. at least to some extent. Indeed. modern Jewish thinkers continued to defend an idea of immortality similar to his.33 But with remarkable consistency. Hirsch did not remove the ubiquitous references to resurrection from the liturgy as his Reform counterparts did. That “all of Israel has a place in the world to come. these rights were certainly not taken for granted. . The Hirsch Siddur (ed. 1997) 198–99.” PAAJR 50 (1983) 133–47. but only as a metaphor for immortality. and trans. Resurrection—No!’ Nineteenth-Century Judaism Struggles with a Traditional Belief. “denotes a two-fold future. and thus does not undermine but rather supports an egalitarian body politic. and the individual Jew.

now defined as a religion. wherever we may find ourselves. see Leora Batnitzky. Like Mendelssohn. now defined only in terms of the egalitarian and individualistic commitments of the modern nation state. (Again. 1924) 3:348. It is precisely the purely spiritual nature of Israel’s nationhood that makes it possible for Jews everywhere to tie themselves fully to the various states in which they live.” in The Pursuit of the Ideal: Jewish Writings of Steven Schwarzschild (ed. 39 See especially Hermann Cohen. translation modified. Menachem Kellner. to lead him to return to eternity. R. to enable him to walk in freedom in the land of transience. “Do Noahides have to Believe in Revelation? (A Passage in Dispute between Maimonides. Albany: State University Press of New York.38 Unlike Mendelssohn. see Steven Schwartzschild. Hirsch describes immortality as a “spiritual accomplishment” and Israel’s nationhood as “purely spiritual. Commentary to Bamidbar 19:22. which may offer us deeper insight into modern Jewish conceptions of immortality. 1995) 152. .290 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW character. 3 vols. however.” forthcoming in Dine Israel. Cohen sought to correct not Maimonides but Spinoza. and politics. . The World of Rabbi S. Cohen was deeply disturbed by Spinoza’s portrayal of Maimonides. Berlin: Schwetschke & Sohn.. without harm to the spirit of Judaism. as cited and translated in Joseph Elias. Although he wrote a century after Mendelssohn and as a critic of the liberal Judaism Mendelssohn had fathered. Hirsch: The Nineteen Letters Newly Translated and with a Comprehensive Commentary (Jerusalem: Feldheim. 38 On the philosophical implications of Cohen’s and Mendelssohn’s shared discomfort with Maimonides’ statement. . 1990) 29–60.”) The common ground between Mendelssohn and Hirsch is their shared assumption of the necessity of a boundary between Judaism. 224. the following words of Hirsch’s could just have easily been Mendelssohn’s: It is certainly possible for us to attach ourselves to the State. In the early twentieth century. . Hirsch’s conception of immortality is quite similar to Mendelssohn’s. 2009.. “Spinoza über Staat und Religion. given to everyone as he enters this life. and Hermann Cohen) A Contribution to a Jewish View of Natural Law. claiming that Spinoza had maliciously misread Maimonides (a view that most scholars reject). Bruno Strauss.36 Note Hirsch’s repeated use of the term “spiritual” to describe both immortality and the political status of the Jewish people. Judentum und Christentum. Mendelssohn. Hirsch asserts that “immortality and eternity belong to the essence of man as man. “From Politics to Law: Modern Jewish Thought and the Invention of Jewish Law.” in Jüdische Schriften (ed. In what is perhaps his most succinct statement on the subject.39 Cohen offers a rereading of Maimonides: 35 Samson Raphael Hirsch. the great neo-Kantian Jewish philosopher Hermann Cohen similarly reduced resurrection to immortality. 37 For more on the striking convergence between Hirsch and Mendelssohn. 36 Ibid. Spinoza.”35 Perhaps more significant than this theological affinity between Hirsch and Mendelssohn is their political affinity.37 Resurrection crosses this boundary and is for this reason troublesome for each of these thinkers.

Would it not have been easier simply to ignore resurrection. To cast off the fear of the earthly. this idea had been fully internalized by Jewish thinkers. already served as a placeholder for the eternal truth of morality. .LEORA BATNITZKY 291 “All Israel has a share in the world to come. . there commences all knowledge of the All. (Note the title of Cohen’s book. in this 40 Hermann Cohen. Cohen maintains that the concept of “resurrection became a lever for the formulation of [the concept of] immortality. As we briefly discussed. like all Jewish theological concepts. Resurrection could now serve as an indistinct placeholder for immortality which. New York: Frederick Ungar. as Mendelssohn did? Here again we see philosophy. The whole of Israel stands here for the concept of man in general.40 For Cohen. 42 Ibid. 359.” Again. for Cohen. 41 Ibid. in order to argue for the full inclusion of Jews in modern political life.”42 According to Cohen. Rosenzweig begins his magnum opus. had been divorced from politics. The affirmation of immortality on the one hand and the separation of theology and politics on the other is perhaps most revealing in the philosophy of Franz Rosenzweig. for the whole of Israel includes messianic mankind. Mendelssohn wrote at a time when the Jewish community was still defined as a political entity. . the history of the people and the history of the messianic people of mankind endure forever.”41 While resurrection would seem to be an instance of God’s miraculous suspension of the laws of creaturely existence. approximately a century and a half later. Mendelssohn invented the idea that Judaism is a religion. For this reason. from the fear of death.) Resurrection. “messianic mankind” implies not an eschatological endpoint but the worldly pursuit of what he calls “ethical socialism. Mendelssohn was highly sensitive to any theological notion that had political implications. Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism (trans. . 311. *** We may wonder why Cohen mentions resurrection at all. immortality means that the human being’s moral task endures forever and the concept of resurrection is but an historical vestige of this eternal truth. for the concept of man in general. . By Cohen’s time. and politics meeting. The Star of Redemption: “From death. theology.” For this share no special demonstration of positive piety is necessary. . Simon Kaplan. Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism. the book was intended as a complement and corrective to Kant’s Religion within the Limits of Reason Alone. 1972) 336. we have briefly seen in Cohen’s case.” in which “material and economic conditions should never become a hindrance to the realization of the moral and spiritual culture of all men without any distinction.. to take from death its poisonous sting. the messianic people “stands ..

In recent years. but utterly beyond time into eternity. to resolve the tension between existence and eternity in his thought. . Yet the Star goes on to declare that “man’s eternity is implanted in the soil of creation. The Star of Redemption (trans. Hallo. is it resurrected. 2009). The wake-up call of God’s revelation to man sounds. alles was sichtbar ist. translation modified and emphasis added. worldliness. 259. Notre Dame. in one way or another. Franz Rosenzweig and the Systematic Task of Philosophy (New York: Cambridge University Press. stirbt nicht und ersteht freilich auch nicht auf. Rosenzweig and Heidegger (Berkeley: University of California Press. but for our purposes we need but note one point.: University of Notre Dame Press. see Peter Eli Gordon. 45 Rosenzweig’s contemporaries tended to resolve this tension by emphasizing either existence or eternity over the other. wo in ein solches Es der Welt das Echo des Weckrufs zur Offenbarung Gottes an den Menschen hineinhallt. Weinstein and Robert Israel. Boston: Martinus Nijhoff. Star of Redemption. see Julius Guttmann’s Philosophies of Judaism (trans. and only then does a segment of temporality die the death of the resurrection of eternity. . nicht weltlich. 1976) 290. plants the sapling of his own eternity neither into the beginning of time nor into the middle. Ind.46 Space does not permit a full discussion of this admittedly complex quotation. therefore it neither dies nor. For an emphasis on Rosenzweig’s conception of existence. science. scholarship has tended to continue to move along this either/or line. Speech. Two of these references occur in the context of Rosenzweig’s discussion of Christianity. its echo reverberates into . is human. however.292 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW philosophy deceives itself. resurrection is mentioned only three times and then only in passing. In eternity there is silence. from the first published reviews of the Star to this very day. 46 Rosenzweig. speech. 1964). The third is seemingly generic and especially obscure: Everything worldly has . For a neo-idealist reading of Rosenzweig see Else-Rahel Freund.”43 Rejecting the old philosophy for what he calls the “new thinking. . Silverman. time. Rosenzweig associates resurrection with death. weil sie menschlich ist.”44 Understandably.” while he links eternity with transcendence. and “all that is visible. Later in the Star he 43 Franz Rosenzweig. 44 Ibid. David W. art and science. the world. 260–61.” Franz Rosenzweig. all that is visible. The German reads.. Der Stern der Erlösung (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.” Rosenzweig would seem to base his thought on the fundamental and inescapable fact of human mortality. In der Ewigkeit ist Schweigen. Stephen L. history. . state. 1985) 3. Die Sprache aber. however. . New York: Holt. sondern schlechthin jenseits der Zeit in die Ewigkeit. For a reading of Rosenzweig that emphasizes his conception of existence.45 While the Star refers repeatedly to eternity and at times to immortality. God himself. stirbt ein Stück Zeitlichkeit den Auferstehungstod der Ewigkeit. its history: law and the state. admittedly. Gott selber aber pflanzt den Setzling seiner eigenen Ewigkeit weder in den Anfang noch in die Mitte der Zeit. 1979). not worldly. 2003) and on the neo-idealist side see Benjamin Pollock. und erst im Augenblick. “So hat alles Weltiche in aller Zeit seine Geschichte: Recht und Staat. Kunst und Wissenschaft. Franz Rosenzweig’s Philosophy of Existence (trans. William W. and silence. the central task for students of Rosenzweig has been.

“The Fire or the Eternal Way. that a trace of immortality (what he calls the “immemorial”) reveals itself. can only view Judaism through the lens of an absolute separation between theology and politics. 48 These are among the themes of part 3.LEORA BATNITZKY 293 characterizes Judaism as eternal and the Jewish people’s communal life as silence. Levinas’s view of the relation between immortality and resurrection bears a significant structural similarity to Cohen’s and Rosenzweig’s in which resurrection is a limited gesture toward immortality. 352–53 and 377–78. Here I will suggest only that resurrection for Levinas is the disruption of the continuity of time. 51 A consideration of Emmanuel Levinas’ views of immortality and resurrection is beyond the scope of this paper. like Hirsch and Cohen. 1913 in Franz Rosenzweig. 1979) 1:142 50 Judaism Despite Christianity: The Letters on Christianity and Judaism between Franz Rosenzweig and Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy (ed. Rosenzweig’s association of eternity and resurrection with Judaism and Christianity respectively is part and parcel of his inversion of Christian supersessionism. But while Rosenzweig emphatically rejected the idea that Judaism is a religion. not because God revives the dead but rather because another person disrupts one’s experience of time. Resurrection is thus irrelevant to Judaism. 1969) 114.”49 Rosenzweig’s refusal to associate resurrection with Judaism is remarkable since. has no political dimension but only a theological one.51 47 These are among the themes of part 3.” See esp. “The Rays or the Eternal Way. as Christians had held for centuries. See in particular Levinas’s remarks about resurrection in Totality and Infinity (trans. as Rosenzweig puts it. he tried to move beyond the framework erected by Mendelssohn. he argues at length that the bandages of unconsciousness blind the Jew and Judaism particularly to politics. 4 November. . the state. of being already in the Father’s presence. Briefe und Tagebücher (2 vols. Alabama: University of Alabama Press. . Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy. for Rosenzweig. 49 Letter to Rudolf Ehrenberg. Rosenzweig. . Levinas maintains. more than any other German-Jewish thinker. It is Christians and not Jews who await resurrection. Judaism. he nevertheless insisted far more than his predecessors had that Judaism was completely separate from politics. There is therefore no continuity in being. book 1 of Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption. that she must wear the bandages of unconsciousness over her eyes)?”50 In part three of the Star. Rather. death and resurrection constitute time. .47 In contrast. and resuscitates. book 1 of Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption.” See esp. It is in this encounter with the Other. Alphonso Lingis. Pittsburgh: Duquesne University Press. . The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff. and art. 1969) 284: “Resurrection constitutes the principal event of time. he depicts Christianity and Christians as intrinsically temporal and tied to history. 337. For Rosenzweig. . you are still en route. But such a formal structure presupposes the relation of the I with the Other . In continuation the instant meets its death. In this way. 298–99 and 315–16.48 These portrayals imply that the Jewish people are already beyond resurrection because they are eternal. . As Rosenzweig put it to his friend Eugen Rosenstock: “Is not part of the price that the Synagogue must pay for the blessing . it is not that Judaism needs to catch up to Christian revelation. “to the church we can only say: we have already arrived at the destination.” . then..

. It does. .”53 Perhaps the most basic concept that Ahad Ha’am attempted to transform was the very idea of resurrection. . he maintained.”55 The cultural Zionist reformulation of resurrection raises the question of whether the modern era demands that Jews make an “either/or” choice between religion and politics. The central figure of cultural Zionism. was an “appendage” (tiflah) to thiyat ha-metim (resurrection of the dead). 1993) 101–2. I at least know “why I remain a Jew”—or. As such. 54 . “Slavery in Freedom”: Do I envy these fellow Jews of mine their emancipation? .” in Der Jude und sein Judentum. . where Jews had not yet received the rights of citizenship.e. I have at least not sold my soul for emancipation.. Al Parashat Derakhim (4 vols. however. Cultural Zionism.. 53 Ahad Ha’am. Tel Aviv: Dvir. He did so because he believed that Jews had attempted to eliminate their communal identity—what I have been calling the political dimension of Judaism—for the false promise of the modern liberal state. Berlin: Jüdischer Verlag. also described the reawakening of Jewish peoplehood in terms of resurrection: “The word resurrection comes to mind: a reawakening that is a miracle. Writing in Eastern Europe. but actually continue underground. 1946) 3:30. .54 Martin Buber (1878–1965). No! A thousand times No. Zionism. but he sought to subordinate theology to a new kind of national identity: Zionism. would lead to the “resurrection of the hearts” (thiyat ha-levavot) of the Jewish people. Selected Essays by Ahad Ha’am (trans. 55 Martin Buber. Gesammelte Aufsätze und Reden (Gerlingen: Lambert Schneider. . Reformulating the twin theological and political dimensions of Judaism. He explicitly suggested that political redemption for the Jews. i. rather. . the relationship between the rejection of resurrection in modern Jewish avowals of immortality and the revival of the 52 Ahad Ha’am. Ahad Ha’am made this point most clearly in a well-known and aptly titled essay. “Renaissance und Bewegung. a great admirer of Ahad Ha’am’s cultural Zionism. 1930) 1:6. any more than if I were asked why I remain my father’s son.294 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW *** That the problem of resurrection for modern Jewish thinkers is a political one is confirmed by the fact that cultural Zionists are perhaps the only modern Jewish thinkers for whom resurrection is supremely important. Leon Simon. the Sabbath has kept [the Jewish people]. know streams of national life that seem to cease. . Philadelphia: JPS. Al Parashat Derakhim (4 vols. The Jewish people can look forward to a resurrection from half a life to a full one. Ahad Ha’am (1856–1927) explicitly rejected the modern idea that Judaism is a religion. . .. .52 Ahad Ha’am strove to acknowledge both the political and theological dimensions of Judaism. Ahad Ha’am.” Buber’s use of the term resurrection is particularly telling because he goes on to state that “history knows no miracles. 1912) 193. I can find no meaning in such a question. he famously maintained that “one can say without any exaggeration that more than the Jewish people has kept the Sabbath.

as Brooks puts it.” The New York Times. which. Our consideration of modern Jewish views of immortality 56 David Brooks. . in which Judaism is considered a religion separate from politics. *** In this paper. . .” in Mortality and Morality: A Search for Good after Auschwitz (ed. The cognitive revolution is not going to end up undermining faith in God [or immortality].LEORA BATNITZKY 295 concept of resurrection by cultural Zionists points to the most basic questions of modern Jewish thought as well as of political modernity. . . Evanston: Northwestern University Press.57 My interest has been in exploring the related political dimension of this move. but who think that particular religions are just cultural artifacts built on top of universal human traits. Jonas concluded his lecture by affirming that “although the hereafter is not ours . when in our brief span we serve our threatened mortal affairs . Brooks notes that despite the loud voices of a new group of assertive atheists such as Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins. “The Neural Buddhists. I suggest. we can have immortality . it’s going to end up challenging faith in the Bible. is going to be a sideshow. By way of conclusion. Again. 57 . 2008. I would like to refer briefly to an interesting column of May 2008 entitled “The Neural Buddhists” by New York Times columnist David Brooks. “The Concept of God after Auschwitz: A Jewish Voice. It does not operate like a computer. . Jonas believed there was no other option than to acknowledge this break and then to create new myths for ourselves with the full knowledge that these could only be myths. which concerns nothing less than the status of modern liberalism. The brain seems less like a cold machine. I have suggested that this movement from resurrection to immortality in modern Jewish thought ought to be understood within the theological-political framework of modernity. . some “scientists have more respect for elevated spiritual states.” But Jonas himself recognized that his very limited conception of immortality was a break not only with the Bible but also with the history of Jewish (and Christian) thought. . I have tried to show that a commitment to immortality is central to modern Jewish thought and that modern Jewish thinkers affirm immortality while rejecting or downplaying resurrection.” Brooks argues that this means that debates between atheists and believers “about whether it is reasonable to conceive of a soul that survives the death of the body and about whether understanding the brain explains away or merely adds to our appreciation of the entity that created it . 1996) 131–43.” The real challenge to religious believers will “come from people who feel the existence of the sacred. Lawrence Vogel.” Jonas surely would have been happy to see that. 13 May. bears upon the meaning of modern Jewish affirmations of immortality and disavowals of resurrection. . See especially Hans Jonas. . “momentum [amongst scientists] has shifted away from hard-core materialism. .”56 I began this paper with reference to Hans Jonas’s 1961 Ingersoll Lecture. The mind seems to have the ability to transcend itself and merge with a larger presence that feels more real.

Modern Jewish reflections on immortality and resurrection do not provide an answer to this question. but they surely do provide yet another reason to continue thinking about it. Jewish or otherwise. As all students of modern religion surely know.296 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW raises the question of whether liberalism demands that all “particular religions” must become “just cultural artifacts built on top of universal human” truths. this remains the basic question of all modern religious thought. .

1 In a recent monograph. Capetz United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities In the nineteenth century the unrestricted application of the historical-critical method posed an unprecedented challenge to inherited Christian notions about the Bible. 1969] 170). there has been very little scholarship devoted to Schleiermacher’s stance toward the OT. Schleiermacher broke ranks from Christian theologians and championed the side of the Jews in this historic debate. Surprisingly. Regarding this matter. not Christian. 1 Hans-Joachim Kraus insists: “For the basic understanding of the Old Testament in the nineteenth century. Richard Crouter. Opposing such “christianizing” readings. Schleiermacher’s statements were of no small importance” (Kraus. Dawn DeVries.. Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834) made a bold proposal. and Vicky Gaylord for their helpful criticisms of earlier drafts of this essay. although his proposal for relegating the OT to noncanonical status was later endorsed by Adolf von Harnack.Friedrich Schleiermacher on the Old Testament* Paul E. traditional viewpoints on the Old Testament (OT) were actually the first to be called into question. religion. While this challenge was eventually to be felt most acutely in the study of the New Testament (NT) once the distinction between the “Jesus of history” and the “Christ of faith” had firmly established itself. As a consequence of historical investigation. HTR 102:3 (2009) 297–326 . His only predecessors in this regard were Marcion and the Socinians. Ted Vial. He argued against the canonical standing of the OT on the grounds that it expresses Jewish. it became increasingly difficult for theologians to claim that the gospel is already taught in the OT. Die Geschichte der historisch-kritischen Erforschung des Alten Testaments von der Reformation bis zur Gegenwart [2d ed. Klaus Beckmann notes this deficiency and seeks to reignite theological discussion on the Christian relation to the OT in * I wish to express my gratitude to Douglas Ottati. For him this conclusion was the unavoidable result of the advancing critical scholarship that was undermining the christological exegesis used to defend the church’s claim to the OT against the synagogue’s counter-claim to its sole rightful possession. Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag.

on the other. J. Two important values are at stake here: the OT as a part of the Christian canon. 2 Klaus Beckmann. Die fremde Wurzel. Hofmann’s position anticipates that of Karl Barth. K. Beckmann does not consider the possibility that Schleiermacher’s argument might be subject to criticism and. von Hofmann. and therefore in favor of an Old Testament . Jahrhunderts (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. While I agree that Schleiermacher’s view is inadequate. But the odd thing about Beckmann’s recommendation of Hofmann’s (and Barth’s) proposal is that it is an instance of precisely the sort of christianizing interpretation Schleiermacher opposed. Edinburgh: T&T Clark.2 of Church Dogmatics. on the one hand. While Hofmann acknowledged the relative right of historical methods to display the meaning of the OT on its own terms.2 Since Beckmann believes that Schleiermacher’s position is inadequate. . In this respect Beckmann is typical of many theologians who grant a limited role to historical methods while invoking theological categories derived from the NT so as to make the OT serviceable for the purposes of Christian faith. Altes Testament und Judentum in der evangelischen Theologie des 19. But the enduring question Schleiermacher’s argument poses is whether there are compelling reasons to retain the OT in the church’s Bible without resorting to christological readings that deprive Judaism of its claim to it. Beckmann is engaged in an external criticism: the only way to avoid Schleiermacher’s conclusion is to work from a different set of premises. 1956] 489). hence. 1. The Doctrine of the Word of God [vol. 3 Karl Barth exclaimed: “A religio-historical understanding of the Old Testament in abstraction from the revelation of the risen Christ is simply an abandonment of the New Testament and of the sphere of the church in favor of that of the synagogue. and the intellectual integrity of OT exegesis and Christian theology. 33. understood apart from its true object and content” (Barth. Unless his challenge can be met directly. trans. As Beckmann indicates. 2002) 31. he insisted that in the final analysis the OT must be interpreted through the lens of the NT’s kerygma. he investigates five other German Protestant theologians from the nineteenth century who also sought to come to grips with historical study of the OT to ascertain whether their conclusions are more adequate.3 Clearly. the Christian claim to the OT cannot be justified theologically apart from a christological exegesis imposed on it from without. G. . Beckmann is convinced that the problems with Schleiermacher’s position can be traced to his abandonment of the supposedly “biblical” model of Heilsgeschichte (prophecy and fulfillment) that was revived by the real hero of Beckmann’s tale. T. Thomson and Harold Knight. modification along the very methodological lines that Schleiermacher recognized as in keeping with his commitment to a thoroughgoing historical-critical exegesis of the Bible and its revisionary implications for theology. C. I disagree with the reasons Beckmann gives for this judgment.298 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW light of historical research by exploring in detail Schleiermacher’s argument. who proposed to rescue the OT from a purely historical exegesis by reasserting a distinctly theological hermeneutic that regards the OT as a witness to Jesus Christ. Beckmann has thus not addressed Schleiermacher’s argument but simply bypassed it. .

and in some cases rejection. § 27. S. to offer a criticism of it drawing upon contemporary biblical scholarship. Ca. third. . there was already by Schleiermacher’s time a well-established tradition of doubting Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch.” he contended. H. 5 Friedrich Schleiermacher. American Academy of Religion Texts and Translations Series. CAPETZ 299 As an exercise in historical theology this essay undertakes three distinct yet interrelated tasks: first. this freedom was an inviolable bequest from the Reformers whose aim was to let the Bible speak for itself apart from the yoke of ecclesiastical tradition. ■ Schleiermacher’s Argument about the Old Testament Endorsing Semler’s call for a “free investigation of the canon” unfettered by doctrinal constraints. James Duke and Francis Fiorenza. based on the 2d German ed. ET. Mackintosh and J. and cited by section and paragraph). of 1830–31. as presented by contemporary historical research. Since.. Schleiermachers Sendschreiben über seine Glaubenslehre an Lücke (ed.3. other conclusions can be defended as more appropriate without abandoning his model of theology for another. On the Glaubenslehre: Two Letters to Dr. The Christian Faith (ed. Giessen: Töpelmann. of certain cherished Protestant beliefs about the biblical canon. though he predicted that historical scholarship would prove to be more problematic for the OT than for the NT. Lücke (trans.”6 He realized that this would occasion revision. however. Edinburgh: T&T Clark. some of his material doctrinal conclusions are not required by his dogmatic method. 1981) 65–67 (henceforth.2 (henceforth abbreviated as Gl. The Identity of Christianity: Theologians and the Essence of Christianity from Schleiermacher to Barth (Philadelphia: Fortress. moreover. Furthermore. 7 Friedrich Schleiermacher. Philadelphia: Fortress.5 For him. English translation of the 2d German ed. Martin Redeker. my argument with Schleiermacher is an internal criticism that does not adopt a standpoint extrinsic to his point of departure. page references to the English translation will be placed in parentheses). 1984) 99. Schleiermacher rejected the notion that “the sacred books require a hermeneutical and critical treatment departing from the generally valid rules” of interpretation. Precisely because his theological method requires any interpretation of Christian faith “to be subject to a process of continuous checking against the whole history of Christianity.7 Although the documentary hypothesis had yet to receive its classic formulation from Wellhausen. critical scholarship was questioning the view that the prophets had predicted the coming of 4 Stephen Sykes. to analyze Schleiermacher’s proposal in its own historical context. second. 1960) § 130. In contrast to Beckmann. Hermann Mulert. 6 Gl. Berlin: de Gruyter. Der christliche Glaube nach den Grundsätzen der evangelischen Kirche im Zusammenhang dargestellt (ed. 1908) 41–43. “It is thoroughly Protestant. Translations of Schleiermacher’s texts are mine unless otherwise indicated. R. ET.PAUL E. Stewart. 1976). to propose an alternative theological construal of Christian faith and of the OT’s importance for it. “to allow everyone the free application of the exegetical art as based on philology. critical ed.: Scholars Press. Chico.”4 his own position on the OT is subject to critique insofar as it assumes a view of Judaism and of early Christianity’s relation to it no longer substantiated by historical research.

§ 132.2. Terrence N. 42 (On the Glaubenslehre. such an opinion necessarily presupposed faith in the inspiration of the Jewish scriptures that a Gentile convert could not have been expected to possess. Hence. not by arguments about prophecy. Schleiermacher sought to put them to good theological use. He justified this departure from Christian tradition by arguing that a doctrine taught only in the OT but not in the NT could hardly be said to possess a genuinely Christian character. 10 Gl. Ludwig Jonas and Wilhelm Dilthey. he was of the opinion that such appeals had done damage to the intellectual integrity of exegesis by foisting an alien meaning upon the text. Berlin: Reimer.”12 Hence. our doctrine of God would have remained much purer. a doctrine taught only in the NT would not be questionable because nothing about it was to be found in the OT. See Kurze Darstellung des theologischen Studiums zum Behuf einleitender Vorlesungen (ed. they had unnecessarily muddied the later development of Christian doctrine: “we have to thank the dogmatic attachment to the Old Testament for much that is bad in our theology. Hildesheim: Georg Olms. 13 In Schleiermacher’s model of theology.10 While there are few doctrines which at one time or another have not been justified by appealing to the OT. both subdisciplines of theology... 9 . 12 Friedrich Schleiermacher. Brief Outline on the Study of Theology (trans.8 Schleiermacher was convinced that the Christian effort to prove Jesus’ messianic status on the basis of OT prophecy was a mistake and that the NT’s appeal to it was strictly an intra-Jewish affair of the first century. Tice. 4 vols. Atlanta: John Knox.11 Moreover. such proof had not really been decisive even for Jewish believers whose conversion was brought about by the powerful impression the personality of Jesus made upon them. 1961) § 85. a thorough acquaintance with the OT is essential for grasping the many literary references and linguistic idioms of the NT writings. Heinrich Scholz.13 Yet Schleiermacher did not actually call for the excision of the OT from the Bible. § 14. and Schleiermacher fully 8 Gl.3. He conceded that while a Jew of that time might well have become persuaded that the prophecies referred to Jesus. Indeed.300 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW Christ and was beginning to look upon the prophetic oracles as messages addressed to the particular historical circumstances of their own times. have a stake in the question of the OT. The lesson to be learned is that faith in Jesus can stand on its own apart from appeals to the OT. Sendschreiben. § 27. He recognized that the OT is the indispensable source for understanding the history of the Jewish people from which Jesus and his first disciples descended.9 Schleiermacher believed the time had come for the church to acknowledge that the OT is a “superfluous authority” for dogmatics. biblical exegesis is the first part of historical theology. critical ed. exegesis and dogmatics. far from being troubled by the negative results of historical scholarship. 1860–1863) 4:394. ET. 1977). 11 Gl. 66). postscript. For that reason alone. Aus Schleiermacher’s Leben in Briefen (ed. and if Marcion had been correctly understood and not denounced as a heretic. by contrast.

2 (Brief Outline.15 Hence.e.2. it is necessary to specify four features: 1) its stage of religious development. 2). § 132.”16 For Schleiermacher. insofar as it first had to become monotheistic in order to become Christian. 20 Gl.”18 He countered this objection by pointing out that the Gentiles had long been inclined toward monotheism through the influence of their own philosophers who for centuries had criticized Greco-Roman polytheism. 16 Kurze Darstellung. to Judaism as to paganism.” Schleiermacher set out to rehabilitate “positive” (i.” In order to identify the essence of any positive religion. the definition of a religion’s essence is designated a “critical inquiry” because the constant element in a historical phenomenon cannot be “ascertained in a merely empirical manner. see also 15 . § 12. § 12.. 3) its central idea. Accordingly.2. the OT should not be taken as canonical: “To include the Jewish codex within the canon means to view Christianity as a continuation of Judaism and is at odds with the idea of the canon. He distinguished the historical fact of Christianity’s origin in the Jewish milieu from the normative question of appealing to the OT in support of Christian doctrine. 19 Gl. they are the first in the series of presentations of Christian faith which alone can serve as the norm for all subsequent presentations of it. 17 Gl. Judaism at this time “was no longer based exclusively on Moses and the prophets” as a result of the many foreign influences it had incorporated since the Babylonian exile. rather. historically given) religion. 53. then it can no more be a continuation of Judaism than a continuation of paganism. § 32.17 Whereas conversion to Christianity required that Gentiles abandon their idolatrous worship.” He called this task “philosophical theology” (Kurze Darstellung. the step from Judaism to Christianity was as much a transition to another religion as the step from paganism to Christianity. 18 Gl. each instance of which is a unique entity with its own distinct identity or “essence. however important its historical value for understanding the context of the NT. and 4) its originating event. Schleiermacher anticipated the objection that there was a far greater leap “from the side of paganism. Gl. the sharp dichotomy between Judaism and Hellenism breaks down and it is evident that the church was a new formation in the religious sphere: “if Christianity is related in the same way to Judaism as to paganism. see also Gl. notwithstanding its historical ties to the former. Furthermore. n.PAUL E. § 129. § 12. CAPETZ 301 expected ministerial candidates to know Hebrew and Aramaic as well as Greek. religiously speaking. 21 According to Schleiermacher. it required that Jews relinquish the Mosaic legislation. n. § 141.19 Seen in this light. 47. is theological. Since only the NT writings were produced under the influence of Jesus’ ministry. early Christianity was a completely new religion and stood in the same relation. 21 Each positive religion has 14 Kurze Darstellung. 2) the type of religion it represents. § 12.14 His point.1.”20 In opposition to the rationalism of the Enlightenment with its “natural religion.

“Schleiermacher und die alttestamentlich-jüdische Religion. belonging to the teleological type of piety. esp. § 21). 23 Schleiermacher wrote. § 8.“What Does ‘Essence of Christianity’ Mean?. as it emerged right from the start. whereas Christian monotheism is free of this defect. “Die Zuordnung von Judentum und Christentum von Schleiermacher bis Lagarde. too. and an “inward unity.4). . He detected in Judaism an affinity with a less developed stage of religion (“fetishism”) since its monotheism is corrupted by nationalism. So even in those respects which the two religions share. See Erhard Lucas. not only reflects a lower stage of development but also belongs to the “aesthetic” type wherein the sense of moral obligation is not constitutive of the religious consciousness. Still. Atlanta: John Knox.23 And while the teleological character of Judaism is expressed in the form of obedience to law. namely that of the critical definition of the essence of Christianity. 737–44.22 Once the essence is ascertained. which meets the future exigencies of the impact of the biblical-critical movement on doctrinal theology” (The Identity of Christianity.24 Since everything in Christianity is related to the redemptive efficacy of Jesus.3). Greco-Roman polytheism. 24 Schleiermacher characterized “the two chief concepts of the Jewish religion” as “the divine election of the nation and divine retribution” (Gl. and essentially distinguishes itself from other such modes of faith in that everything in it is related to the redemption accomplished by Jesus of Nazareth. also Ernst Katzer. 22 Gl. § 11.” EvTh 23 (1963) 590–607. Unlike premodern theologians Schleiermacher did not assume that monotheism was the earliest form of religion. the contrast between Judaism and paganism with respect to stage and type of religion did not lead Schleiermacher to conclude that Christianity is related to Judaism in more than a merely external historical manner. Ernst Troeltsch correctly understood that the attempt to define the essence was a response to the dissolution of dogma’s authority in the light of historical consciousness (Troeltsch. 99). § 103. Christianity’s essence can thus be formulated as follows: Christianity is a monotheistic mode of faith. there are profound differences between them. however.302 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW an “outward unity.” in Ernst Troeltsch: Writings on Theology and Religion [ed. Sykes comments: “Schleiermacher stumbles on a theological tool. “Christianity is the purest formation of monotheism to have emerged in history” (Gl. “Christian piety. although he did consider it to stand at the apex of human religious development.” which is a peculiar modification of the elements it shares with other faiths at the same stage and of the same type. 177). 1977] 158. 590–93. Robert Morgan and Michael Pye.” Neues Sächsisches Kirchenblatt 26 (1919) 721–28. in Christianity it assumes the form of exhortations indicating how moral action springs forth from the consciousness of redemption.” reflecting a definite origin in history. the relations of Christianity to other religions can be set forth with precision. is monotheistic and belongs to the “teleological” (or moral) type. is not to be understood by means of the Jewish piety of that or of an earlier Gl. Judaism.

CAPETZ 303 time: thus in no way can Christianity be viewed as a reshaping or a renewal of Judaism. namely. § 110. .” Monatschrift für Pastoraltheologie 54 (1965) 213–20. it is necessary to recognize its double-sided character. The OT cannot be for Christians what it is for Jews. Schleiermacher said that “law is not originally a Christian term” (Gl.”29 Hence.” “It must be permissible. 26 27 Gl. The New Testament canon has obtained its present form through the decision of the Church.2. Schleiermacher conceded that the OT really belongs to the synagogue. “Schleiermacher on Judaism.26 The OT contains elements that are foreign to the church so that “whatever is most definitely Jewish has least value” for Christians and even those passages in it that appear compatible with Christian piety are only “of a more general nature and not distinctively Christian. placing the OT on the same level as the NT diminishes the central significance of Jesus in an Ebionite (Jewish-Christian) manner. The most important theologian of the nineteenth century thus 25 Gl. .” in Schleiermacher und die wissenschaftliche Kultur des Christentums (ed. 29 Joseph W.”27 Aside from the fact that the OT can be claimed as a Christian book only when exegetical violence is done to the plain historical meaning of its literalgrammatical sense. See Beckmann.” though “[t]his is not a decision to which we attribute an authority exalted above all inquiry. Schleiermacher sometimes preached on OT texts. and Wolfgang Trillhaas. and not to the church. after all.PAUL E. an indivisible whole. 239–70.2).3. Pickle. Die fremde Wurzel. 1991) 279–89. Günther Meckenstock. then . to have the canon in two forms: that which has been handed down historically and that which has been separated out critically” (Brief Outline. see Joachim Hoppe. confusion as to the essential nature of Christianity necessarily arises from the traditional practice of placing both testaments on equal footing as two parts of one canon of scripture.”25 Since the OT reflects Jewish religion.28 Although his assessment of the OT is negative in its import for the church. Though his statement implies that Judaism is “legalistic. § 66. Berlin and New York: de Gruyter. “Schleiermachers Predigten über alttestamentliche Texte.” JR 60 (1980) 115.2. The force of this observation is qualified when Schleiermacher insists upon the need for a critical investigation into the NT canon: “The Protestant Church necessarily claims to be continually occupied in determining the New Testament canon more exactly. “Schleiermacher’s appreciative assessment of Judaism recognizes the uniqueness of Judaism and rejects attempts to treat it or the Old Testament as a preparatio evangelii. In his understanding of Christian ethics the imperative mood is replaced by a descriptive account of how Christians act in accordance with their religious consciousness.” the primary target of his criticism is the extremely conservative use of the OT by some Christians such as his Berlin colleague Hengstenberg who appealed to the OT to defend the institution of monarchy and to oppose the modern liberal state. § 12. 28 Gl. “Altes Testament und alttestamentliche Predigt bei Schleiermacher. The clear implication of Schleiermacher’s argument is that Christians should acknowledge the integrity of Judaism as a distinct religion which is to be understood on its own terms quite apart from any relation to Christianity. As Joseph Pickle points out. § 12. § 132. Moreover. 114). those Christians who are especially fond of the OT evince a legalistic mentality not in keeping with the Christian conception of the moral life. . For analysis of these sermons.

Since his proposal regarding the OT is so closely tied to his view of the church’s relation to Judaism. pre-exilic Israelite religion was not a thoroughgoing monotheism but. Schleiermacher’s criticism of Jewish monotheism as less than pure results. it cannot also be Christian. Schleiermacher’s critique of Judaism as particularistic shows the unwitting influence upon him of the Enlightenment’s preference for a universal rational religion. a genuine monotheism developed in consort with the emergence of Judaism. Curiously. of chief concern here is his argument that Christianity is not to be understood as a continuation or development of Judaism. The irony here is that he thereby betrayed his own groundbreaking recognition of the irreducibly particular nature of actual religion which he articulated 30 It appears as though Schleiermacher viewed Moses as the founder of Judaism: “By ‘Judaism’ is understood primarily the Mosaic institutions.304 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW departed from the classical Christian tradition by upholding the Jewish character of the OT. including the theological struggle of monotheism with henotheism that is reflected in the literature of the OT. He also characterized the religion of the pre-Mosaic period as “Abrahamitic Judaism. in part.” which is obviously anachronistic. Consequently. ■ Critique of Schleiermacher’s Portrayal of Judaism and Early Christianity Schleiermacher’s methodological insistence upon the distinctiveness of each positive religion cleared the way for the possibility of an impartial historical treatment of Judaism in its own right. these traditions were subject to reinterpretation from the monotheistic perspective of the Jewish redactors of the OT. This insight has ramifications for Schleiermacher’s critique of Jewish monotheism as bearing an affinity with a lesser form of religion (“fetishism”) on account of its ties to a particular nation.30 Yet modern study has shown that Judaism first began to take shape during the exilic crisis of Israel’s earlier national religion and so is not identical with pre-exilic religion. his reconstruction of the history of religion invites criticism to the extent that it fails to meet the requirements of a genuinely historical interpretation. from his lack of adequate knowledge of the actual historical relations between pre-exilic Israelite religion and post-exilic Jewish religion. his interpretation of Judaism betrays certain prejudices that reflect his own Christian starting point. Accordingly. every earlier usage which abetted the segregation of the people” (Gl. Hence. not in spite of it! While vestiges of the pre-monotheistic Israelite religion are embedded in older strata of the OT. He apparently assumed that Judaism was the religion of Israel even before the exile. § 12. but also. But this is not the entire explanation for his view.1–2). rather. a “henotheism” since Israel’s national deity was not yet conceived consistently in radical terms as the creator and sovereign of the entire world. But precisely because the OT is Jewish. By comparison with Judaism. The characterization of the OT as “Jewish” is subject to some important qualifications not made by Schleiermacher himself. as preparation for these. . Nevertheless.

33 Tikva Frymer-Kensky writes: “The Bible is the source of halakic [legal] authority. but it did not make its supersessionism apparent. but it considered the New Testament as its foundational Scripture. but it does not function on its own and is not an independent source of authority in traditional Judaism. is a post-Christian development that cannot be simply identified with the Jewish religion evident in the later formative period of the OT.’ It showed honor to and interest in the Hebrew Bible and claimed it as its own heritage. “The Emergence of Jewish Biblical Theologies. it is not to be equated with classical Judaism as though the latter were the inevitable outcome of the former.PAUL E. the results of historical criticism have been no less troubling for traditional Jewish beliefs about the Bible. Pickle concludes that Schleiermacher’s view of Judaism was not really negative so much as it was ambivalent.34 31 Pickle points out that the emancipated Jews whom Schleiermacher knew held to these same views of Judaism on account of their commitment to the Enlightenment’s ideal of a purely rational religion: “The uncompromising critic of natural religion sees. It behaved ritually as if the Torah was the central facet of Judaism.” in Jews. Christians. The crucial point is that the Bible (Tanakh/OT) does not belong to rabbinic Judaism in any simple sense. In fact. 2000] 111). Judaism. Indeed. there were varieties of Judaism.32 Schleiermacher’s portrait does not. and the Theology of the Hebrew Scriptures [ed. . But particularity is not the same as “particularism. “Schleiermacher on Judaism. For it denies to Judaism a capacity for renewal and development beyond the historical religious development attested in the biblical writings” (Matthias Wolfes. Atlanta: SBL. [T]he Christian church was explicitly ‘supersessionist. 34 Matthias Wolfes makes this pointed observation: “The equation of the Old Testament and Jewish religion carried out by Schleiermacher has. moreover. Judaism in the guise formulated by passionate devotees of natural religion” (Pickle. Prior to the rabbinic period. there was no such thing as a monolithic or “orthodox” Judaism commanding the allegiance of all Jews.” Christianity is just as particular as and no less prone to particularism than Judaism. and tries to appreciate. a fatal consequence for the theological evaluation of Judaism. 32 Schleiermacher’s comparison of Jewish and Christian monotheisms results from an unfair juxtaposition of an actual Judaism and an idealized Christianity.” Finally.” just as universality is not identical with “universalism. each of which claimed to embody the authentic continuation of Israel’s religious heritage. . sufficiently differentiate the post-exilic Judaism that put its indelible stamp upon the final form of the OT from the Judaism of the rabbis after the destruction of the second temple. . however. . but it dictated the way that the Torah should be read” (Frymer-Kensky. Judaism was almost equally supersessionist.31 Judaism is constituted by the twin poles of universality (reflecting its monotheism) and particularity (rooted in its special vocation to bring all peoples to monotheism).” 137). Christianity has been particularistic (as distinct from historically particular) in its own way on account of the belief that “outside of the church there is no salvation. That he was sensitive to this criticism is evident from his plea for reconsideration of the Sabellian way of interpreting the trinitarian doctrine. Öffentlichkeit . See Gl. . CAPETZ 305 in his polemic against “natural religion” as an artificial intellectual construct. . § 170–72. as classically defined. doubt must surely be cast on Schleiermacher’s claim that monotheism has found its purest expression in Christianity when it is recalled that Jews and Muslims alike have traditionally looked upon trinitarianism as a relapse into polytheism. Kaminsky. Alice Ogden Bellis and Joel S.33 While the OT is certainly Jewish.

what we are to make of this rather surprising assessment given his classification of paganism as a polytheistic religion of the aesthetic (i.2. . 2001] 26). “Judaism. is in a real sense a document of Jewish religion? In his critique of Schleiermacher.306 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW Since the religion we now call “Christianity” began its existence as one variety of Judaism. the Jewish spirit. .” his mode of conceiving each religion as a distinct entity implies a view of the religions as having only external or accidental relations to one another. 1. we will have to strike out not only the Old but all the New Testament as well. it is difficult to identify at what stage in its history we can speak of it as a different religion from Judaism. as Schleiermacher did. “Judaism. . the entire Bible is a product of the Israelitish. . the earliest Christian groups were simultaneously Jewish and Hellenistic. See also Julie Galambush. humanly speaking. 37 Meeks. Schleiermacher’s thesis that Christianity stood in the same relation of religious discontinuity to Judaism as to paganism is hardly persuasive. It is not clear. .”37 Yet Schleiermacher did not view Christianity as either Jewish or Hellenistic. since for him it was a completely new formation equidistant from both Judaism and Hellenism. . it is anachronistic to describe it as a new religion in its original phase. and the Birth of Christianity. Even if we should wish to allow for a more dynamic model of their mutual relations. . it breathes throughout the spirit of Jewish piety.of the whole Bible. Although he perceived the influence on Judaism of what would later be called “syncretism.35 Although the NT is full of polemics against non-Christian Jews as well as against other Christians (Jewish and non-Jewish). .e. even of the whole of the New Testament Bible. 36 Since incipient Christianity was not homogenous. . Friedrich Schleiermachers politische Wirksamkeit [New York and Berlin: de Gruyter. Hellenism. Like the other varieties of Judaism. This is true. 510. moreover. too. On his own terms. indeed. The Bible is a Jewish book. . were profoundly influenced by Hellenism. which discarded?” (Meeks. Yet if this is the case.36 The historical picture is further complicated by the insight that all of these varieties of Judaism. including Christianity. The Reluctant Parting: How the New Testament’s Jewish Writers Created a Christian Book (San Francisco: HarperCollins. Meeks insists that we formulate better questions: “The questions that have to be asked are more particular: Which parts of the Jewish tradition were being assumed and reinterpreted by this or that group of early Christians? Which institutions were continued. must we not grant that the NT.” in Paul Beyond the Judaism/Hellenism Divide [ed. non-moral) type. the Jewish book. this means that paganism not only represented a lower stage of religious development than Judaism but also und Bürgergesellschaft. Wayne A.” 24–26. Hellenism. 35 Barth. Louisville: John Knox. and the Birth of Christianity. Church Dogmatics. . Barth correctly understood that. or to put it more clearly.. . and certainly not as simultaneously Jewish and Hellenistic. 2004] 2:374). Troels Engberg-Pedersen. If we want it otherwise. 2005). Wayne Meeks argues that “ ‘Judaism’ was in some senses a Hellenistic religion.

From the perspective of hindsight. Oehler. In this religion the teleological direction retreats completely. even apart from the fact that it occupies a higher level. 40 For an early critique of Schleiermacher’s thought along these lines. § 9. . emphasis added. neither in their religious symbols nor in their mysteries is there any discernable trace of the idea of a totality of moral ends and of a relation of all human situations to this. Greek polytheism. Schleiermacher concluded: It is undeniable that the influence of Hebrew in the really religious terms is particularly great. F. For in what was originally Hellenic—particularly to the extent that it was known to the N. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.T.39 Yet what else can this mean other than that early Christianity was a peculiar modification of Jewish religion?40 In his lectures on hermeneutics where he attempted to sort out the differing relations of dependence upon Hebrew and Greek evident in the NT. as being sharply opposed in this respect to Christianity. as embracing its fulfillment. is not coordinate with it. . namely.38 It is pertinent to recall Schleiermacher’s view that the “inward unity” of any positive religion is to be understood as a “peculiar modification” of that which is shared with religions of the same type and at the same stage of development. This was clearly true of the apostle Paul. Schleiermacher was right to point out the philosophical developments on Greek soil that had prepared for the reception by non-Jews of a monotheistic and ethical religion. rather. Steudel. Vorlesungen über die Theologie des Alten Testaments (ed. Indeed. . but even what was similar was rejected via its connection to polytheism. writers—the religious aspect which was to be newly developed (not only) found no point of contact. Christianity. we know that what began as a Jewish sect developed into a distinct religious community whose self-definition had to be hammered out in polemics against rabbinic Judaism as well as against paganism. Berlin: Reimer. 1840) 540–42. 41 Hermeneutics and Criticism and Other Essays (ed. Yet his comparison of pagan converts to Jewish converts is misleading since the latter did not understand themselves as rejecting the legacy of Israel for a new religion but. C. Cambridge Texts in the History of Philosophy. 1998) 42.42 38 Gl. see J. But from this fact of history it does not follow that the material substance of Christian religion is as discontinuous with Judaism as with the Hellenistic religions from which the church drew the majority of its converts. Andrew Bowie.2. he invoked Greco-Roman paganism as his chief illustration of an aesthetic religion: What [in the history of religion] is most apparent to us. Ibid.PAUL E. 42 Krister Stendahl cautions against speaking of “conversion” with respect to the apostle Paul 39 . G. “Über Schleiermacher’s und Marheineke’s Ansicht über das Alte Testament.” in idem. Studel represented the supernaturalist orthodox theology.41 Here there appears to be an inconsistency in Schleiermacher’s argument. CAPETZ 307 differed in kind from it. is in the sharpest way opposed to this type. F. but belongs to a lower level.

Pickle has rendered the following ironic verdict: “The advocate of historicalcritical understanding accepts a view of Judaism that is utterly ahistorical. . it appears to do double duty in this regard. according to Troeltsch. etc. although this is not objectionable provided that the proper conceptual distinctions are made between these two functions. This idea was much debated in the nineteenth century. Two questions must be asked. the notion of a distinguishing “essence” presented its own problems. it is nonetheless the case that his commitment to the historical-critical method invites these criticisms of his own historical reconstruction. it falls to his admirers to improve—in his own spirit—upon his view of Judaism. and insight. Pickle goes on to say: “One can only wish that Schleiermacher’s theological dispositions had been matched with an equally comprehensive awareness of Jewish piety. Its purpose. normative element. however. on the basis of which the inessential can be ignored and that which is contrary to the essence can be condemned” (Troeltsch. For this reason. such as democracy. The ambiguity inherent in this notion is whether the essence of a religion is an abstraction from history intended merely to characterize a set of related phenomena or whether it is also meant to serve a critical purpose in relation to them. In this he was surely correct. .” 45 A helpful analogy may be found in thinking about the reasons why the United States was founded. lies in “this unavoidable transition from an abstracted concept to an ideal concept” (158).” 44 The ambiguity involved in the idea of an “essence” is that it is not merely descriptive in intent but prescriptive as well. On the other hand. Krister Stendahl. Given that religious traditions undergo real change since it implies that he joined another religion.”43 While Schleiermacher cannot be held responsible for not having had the benefit of recent biblical scholarship at his disposal. 43 Pickle. it answered the need for a conceptual tool to bridge the empirical study of history and the normative task of theology. Paul Among Jews and Gentiles (Philadelphia: Fortress. The first is whether such a concept is not too static to do justice to the dynamic character of a movement in history. like every other positive religion. however. we are brought back to the idea that Christianity.45 Schleiermacher reasoned that the essence of Christianity can be determined in a scholarly manner only by comparing Christianity to the other positive religions. 1976) 7–23. In the wake of the widespread acknowledgment of the demise of the orthodox doctrine of scripture. has a distinguishing “essence” that identifies it as a unique entity in the religious realm.” 137. In this connection.44 In practice. . as Troeltsch indicated. freedom of religion. Since theology is never a closed book. tradition. “Schleiermacher on Judaism.308 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW The conclusion is unavoidable that the historical foundation of Schleiermacher’s argument about the OT is inadequate inasmuch as it presupposes an undifferentiated view of pre-rabbinic Judaism as well as an interpretation of early Christianity as only accidentally related to the religious heritage of Judaism. human rights. The central problem in its deployment. Troeltsch thus called for a more careful distinction between “the properly historical” and “the philosophically historical. “What Does ‘Essence of Christianity’ Mean?” 144). is not only to indicate what distinguishes Christianity from other religions but also “to make possible an evaluation of what is essential [within Christianity]. . This descriptive-historical judgment obviously entails normative implications for judging America as a nation in relation to these ideals.

there is no reason.PAUL E. . this does not obviate the need to specify wherein the enduring identity of a religious tradition consists if we wish to avoid a complete nominalism in historical interpretation. we cannot even speak of movements in history (say. But this confusion is not inevitable. criticizes the tradition of Schleiermacher: “[T]he question of the distinctive essence of Christianity was subordinated to that of its superiority to other religions in such a way that the former question was inadequately treated” (Cobb. whether the quest to define what makes Christianity distinctive must depend upon a comparison with the other religions that implies their inferiority. namely. 1976). Yet it is erroneous to think that Schleiermacher intended to reify an abstraction. Although it may be desirable to come up with new terminology to designate such a conceptual operation. And all historians who are more than mere chroniclers necessarily hazard some general characterizations of broad movements in history and culture. New York: Schocken. for instance. see Leo Baeck.” 47 John B. While Schleiermacher’s concept of an essence can be defended in principle. This commonplace has to be stressed in response to those scholars who reject the very notion of an essence on the grounds that such an idea is foreign to temporal phenomena. of inquiring into the essence leads to our second question. CAPETZ 309 and development over time. but unlike Judaism. it is an ethical monotheism. the Renaissance or the Reformation) apart from the application of abstract concepts to the interpretation of the historian’s empirical data. its central figure is Jesus and its central idea is redemption from sin. Victor Grubenwieser and Leonard Pearl. Cobb. a large part of the problem stems from the connotations the word “essence” has acquired in our postmodern intellectual situation where “essentialisms” of one kind or another are rightly suspected of falsifying the complexity of reality. The Structure of Christian Existence [New York: Seabury. his use of it in fact is vulnerable to this criticism. 1967] 14). The Essence of Judaism (trans.47 Hence. does not the assumption of an essence hamper our appreciation of their dynamic character? This objection is valid whenever an abstract conception of a phenomenon is mistaken for the concrete phenomenon itself. As I see it. I employ the term “nature” to distinguish the material content of Schleiermacher’s understanding of Christian faith from his formal statement of its “essence. Indeed. But in itself there is nothing wrong with his formal definition of Christianity’s essence: like Judaism. an updated attempt to implement this task must renounce any apologetic motive when attempting to define the essence of Christianity in relation to Judaism. even indispensability. 48 For an example of this sort of inquiry on the part of a liberal Jewish thinker.48 46 The German word Wesen can be translated either as “essence” or “nature. No doubt.” For my own constructive purposes in the next section. Jr. why the identity of Christianity has to be purchased at the cost of a sharp contrast or opposition between it and Judaism given their inextricably close historical relations and substantial material overlaps.46 This recognition of the legitimacy.

51 Though Schleiermacher is most often remembered for his famous redefinition of religion as “the feeling of absolute dependence.” of greater importance perhaps was his proposal of a historicized model of dogmatics (Glaubenslehre) designed to transcend the dichotomy beyond supernaturalism and rationalism occasioned by the Enlightenment’s challenge to the Reformation heritage. to use his terminology. He said as much in his lectures on hermeneutics: “The question cannot be decided in an immediately hermeneutic manner and therefore shows itself as a matter of conviction. the answer to which is indicative of a theologian’s entire construal of the nature of Christian faith. The components of this model are the following: first of all. historical study teaches 49 Hermeneutics and Criticism. § 100. Elsewhere he states: “This exposition is based entirely on the inner experience of the believer.50 Whereas the essence must be determined through comparative study. § 30). hence.2. Gl. doctrines are understood as intellectual attempts to explicate the understanding of human existence in the world before God implicit in the Christian religious affections.3). especially for a theologian who affirms without qualification the results of historical-critical study. 41. the religious affections. the question should not be formulated so starkly as “new or not. To his mind.1).310 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW ■ The Jewish Jesus and the Nature of Christian Faith Schleiermacher posed the question: “Was Christianity something new or not?” In light of the foregoing discussion. Yet in moving from the empirical questions of the historian of religion to the normative questions of the theologian. § 11. sharing its distinctive religious experience. but a matter of the heart or. § 14. we are dealing with more than a strictly historical judgment on his part since a particular theological construal of Christian faith co-determines his argument. 43. and seeking to give as accurate a description of it as possible. is “a purely factual certainty. but a certainty of a fact which is entirely inward” (Gl. Second. and God (Gl. Yet Schleiermacher disagreed. a shift is being made from a standpoint “external” to Christianity to one that is “internal” to it.52 Third. Indeed. 51 Faith in Christ.”49 To be sure. theology (in the sense of dogmatics or systematic theology) requires that the theologian stand within the church. its only purpose is to describe and elucidate that experience” (Gl. 50 . according to Schleiermacher. Christianity represents an absolutely new beginning in the religious realm which cannot be explained by what preceded it historically. however. one may share Schleiermacher’s affective view of faith without endorsing his theory of religion in every detail. faith is not an assent to doctrinal propositions.5. there is nonetheless a critical interrelation between the two. in the final analysis how we think about Christianity’s relation to Judaism (and. 52 Schleiermacher exposited each doctrine in a threefold manner as a statement about the self. 28. to the OT) is a theological question.” since on historical grounds alone we have to say that Christianity was relatively new even if not absolutely so. Here. While one cannot move directly from history to theology in positivistic fashion. the world.

58 It is easy to suspect a 53 “Dogmatic propositions arise only from logically ordered reflection upon the immediate utterances of the religious self-consciousness” (Gl. Schleiermacher on Christ and Religion: A New Introduction (New York: Scribner. by virtue of his incomparable relation to God. there are three interrelated doctrines to be interrogated for the sake of proposing a revision of Schleiermacher’s construal of the nature of Christian faith. He thereby wished to indicate his continuity with the Alexandrian tradition. Niebuhr makes exactly the same point. § 93. there are grave problems with such an idea. In spite of his assurance in this regard. and the multiple meanings of revelation. This distinction between the formal and material elements in Schleiermacher’s dogmatics is crucial if there is to be an internal criticism of his positions that does not—as in the case of an external criticism such as Beckmann’s—presuppose a completely different conception of the theological enterprise. § 94). since dogmatics concerns the state of Christian doctrine in the present moment. But Schleiermacher’s theology is christocentric in a much stronger sense on account of his conviction that redemption from sin is mediated through Jesus alone. all Christian theology is christocentric in some sense inasmuch as the person of Jesus is the central revelation of God that constitutes the church as a distinct religious community.55 Here we meet the sole miracle in Schleiermacher’s theology.1–3. Schleiermacher added that this perfect God-consciousness was “a veritable existence of God in him” (Gl.57 Still. 56 Gl. entail endorsing all of his material conclusions. CAPETZ 311 that the church’s doctrines have changed over the course of time. denial of this claim would spell the end of Christian faith. 55 Gl. We cannot fail to notice what many scholars have labeled as Schleiermacher’s “christocentrism. 1964) 16–17. quite simply is the new element that cannot be explained by any historical antecedents. § 93.2. however. Schleiermacher affirmed that Jesus. it must be open to further doctrinal revision for the sake of the best contemporary understanding of the Christian religious affections wherein faith consists.” Of course. Fourth. he was certain that his view of Jesus was a necessary inference about who he really must have been given his actual redemptive influence upon the present religious experience of Christian believers. These are: christology. soteriology.53 Fifth. § 93.56 For him. For one thing. the task of dogmatics is to discern the logical or systematic connection between the various doctrinal loci as representing in their totality the historically particular experience of redemption through Christ that constitutes the church as a distinctive religious community. § 16. Keck adds that there is no need to “presuppose ‘sinless perfection’ (to speak with . indeed. however. it is exceedingly difficult to imagine what it would mean to say of a real human being that he or she was entirely without sin.54 In my judgment. postscript). He conceived of Jesus as a person whose consciousness of God was unbroken by sin. 58 Leander E. See Richard Niebuhr.PAUL E. Formal agreement with Schleiermacher’s model and method of dogmatics does not. 54 Richard R. the religious ideal for human existence became an actual fact in this one individual. 57 Gl.

On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (trans. of course. . 59 For Schleiermacher the two opposing christological heresies are the Ebionite (or “Nazarean”) and the docetic. As a result.1).60 Also. then he was “only a more or less original and revolutionary reformer of the Jewish law. 212). the former denies that Jesus is absolutely superior to all other persons by virtue of his God-consciousness and the latter denies that there is an essential likeness between him and all other persons (Gl. the admittedly imperfect consciousness of God on the part of Christians does not require a perfect consciousness of God as its sufficient source.63 Accordingly. § 22. 62 Gl. did not deny either of these. Docetism originally referred to the denial that Jesus had a real body and later to the denial that he had a rational human soul. This assumption that the christological teaching of John’s gospel accurately depicts what Jesus taught about himself in turn accounts for the antithetical relationship between Jesus and Judaism in Schleiermacher’s interpretation. repr. In Susannah Heschel’s analysis. pedestal. . 61 Susannah Heschel. 63 Schleiermacher defended the historical veracity of John’s gospel in a note added to the third edition of the Speeches in 1821. if not supernatural. . notwithstanding Schleiermacher’s explicit rejection of this ancient heresy. Schleiermacher was confident that John’s gospel provides us with a reliable report of Jesus’ teaching from which we can form a picture of his inner life.2). Yet in no wise has the historical basis of Schleiermacher’s theology been more badly shaken than by the subsequent course of research into the gospels as sources for our knowledge of who Jesus was. Schleiermacher.. A Future for the Historical Jesus: The Place of Jesus in Preaching and Theology [Philadelphia: Fortress. Schleiermacher speculated on John’s relation to Jesus: “In John’s Gospel the interest is historical: was the author a contemporary witness?” (Schleiermacher. by virtue of his extraordinary inner life. 64 Horst Dietrich Preuss writes: “The opposition of Moses and Christ Schleiermacher takes from the Gospel of John which is also in other respects for him the most highly prized [of the . Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (Chicago: University of Chicago Press. but his assertion of Jesus’ absolutely perfect God-consciousness makes him categorically unlike everyone else.”62 It is pertinent to recall Schleiermacher’s calm predication that historical-critical scholarship would be more damaging for the traditional Christian assessment of the OT than for that of the NT.59 Moreover. 1988) 145. 1994) 262–63. Schleiermacher. § 93. this conception has negative implications for the question of Jesus’ relation to Judaism. Jesus’ life as a Jew became fundamentally irrelevant to the crux of his exceptional role. 1981] 217).2. 60 Schleiermacher acknowledged this point as a possible criticism of his doctrine but rejected it (Gl. In another place.61 Schleiermacher feared that if Jesus had not perfectly embodied the religious ideal.64 But this view founders on Schleiermacher) in the event of Jesus” (Keck. John Oman. Schleiermacher lifted Jesus from the realm of the human to a superhuman. 1958. § 93.312 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW “docetic” strain at work here. the message proclaimed by Jesus was about his own unique relation to God. but merely a more powerful and vivid one. Louisville: Westminster/John Knox. New York: Harper and Row. Hermeneutics and Criticism.

not Hofmann. that is to say. the Jewish Bible was seen [by Strauss] as the decisive formative influence upon the evangelical texts. yet he correctly formulates the import of this hermeneutic for Strauss: “In his ‘mythical’ criticism of the gospels Strauss expressed in radical fashion the literary unity of the Old and New Testaments. trans. Joachim Track. according to him. Strauss. not John. The Quest of the Historical Jesus (trans. Montgomery. 1972) 773. for example. The Life of Jesus Critically Examined (ed. Strauss clearly saw that in his religion Jesus was a Jew and that the church’s christology as reflected. Lives of Jesus series. Die fremde Wurzel.PAUL E. he could have claimed that Strauss. What is chiefly fatal to a sound historical view is his one-sided preference for the Fourth Gospel. 66. with an introduction by Peter C. Albert Schweitzer concluded: Schleiermacher is not in search of the historical Jesus. 68 Beckmann. of the historic figure which seems to him appropriate to the self-consciousness of the redeemer as he presents it. contain the most authentic reminiscences of Jesus’ teachings. One need not endorse . D.69 Hence. but of the Jesus Christ of his own system of theology. too. CAPETZ 313 the later insight of critical study that the synoptic gospels. Hodgson.. The only figure to the left of Schleiermacher analyzed in Beckmann’s study is David Friedrich Strauss. 1980] 144).”67 In sharp contrast to Schleiermacher. only in this Gospel that the consciousness of Jesus is truly reflected. The Jewish-Old Testament myth about the messiah determined for Strauss not only the ‘how’ but already the ‘that’ of the narratives about Jesus as the Christ” (Ibid. 67 David Friedrich Strauss. . Stuttgart: Calwer. New York: Macmillan. In his view. the OT and its interpretation in secondtemple Judaism were the formative influences upon the presentation of Jesus in gospels]. Since the New Testament writers intended to prove the messianic character of Jesus. 69 Ibid. Schleiermachers. W. Philadelphia: Fortress. but an ideal Christ. and perhaps this even played a role in determining his attitude to ‘the Jews’” (Preuss. for Strauss. Die fremde Wurzel. . in John’s gospel attests to what Christians later taught about Jesus after his death. .66 It was in the work of Strauss that this distinction became crucial for the scholarly study of the NT.65 If Schleiermacher had been constrained to base his view of Jesus’ preaching on the evidence of the synoptic evangelists instead of relying on John.68 Yet Strauss understood that even in its christological faith the church was still primarily a Jewish phenomenon. 208). The NT’s witness to Jesus as the messiah was born of a lively continuation of religious motifs found in the OT. “Vom Verlust des Alten Testaments und seinen Folgen dargestellt anhand der Theologie und Predigt F. he would have been forced to confront head-on what became the major problem of NT scholarship in the nineteenth century: the relation between the Jesus of history and the Christ of faith. If Beckmann had been willing to follow Strauss down this path. the evangelical narratives arose from the living Jewish tradition. It is. 197–239. 1968) 62. In his survey of the nineteenth century’s quest for the historical Jesus. George Eliot. Beckmann is troubled by the application of “myth” to the exegesis of the Bible as well as by the Hegelian interpretation of it given by Strauss. 66 Beckmann.” in Lebendiger Umgang mit Schrift und Bekenntnis [ed. provided the best alternative to Schleiermacher’s position. 65 Albert Schweitzer. faulted Schleiermacher for teaching “not an historical. 206.

as Schleiermacher mistakenly assumed. 1975). trans. 71 Hans Dieter Betz. as Schleiermacher was in principle. “Wellhausen’s Dictum ‘Jesus was not a Christian. The Life of Jesus (ed. New York: Scribner.. he did not view the OT as a document of equal religious value to the NT.” i. 70 Rudolf Bultmann. But if the church’s the Hegelianism of Strauss as a condition for recognizing the importance of myth as a category of biblical interpretation. Strauss clearly saw that it is no longer possible to assume an identity between the church’s proclamation about Jesus and the proclamation of Jesus. 1951. not a Christian. Jesus did not teach the gospel that Christians later taught about him. . MacLean Gilmour. then even he and not least his entire work have to be capable of explanation from what was historically given to him. 2 vols. 530. § 93. the actual content of Jesus’ message can only be understood in relation to his Jewish context. Die Fremde Wurzel. 1955) 1:3. Christianity as a whole could be understood to have emerged from Judaism at the particular stage of its development that it had attained at that time.71 These considerations would require Schleiermacher to rethink the historical basis of his christological doctrine. He further assumed that this view was consonant with what Jesus taught.74 This assessment reflects his conviction that Christianity is not only a different religion from Judaism but also superior to it. Two consequences follow from this distinction between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith. they would most certainly entail revision of his historical reconstruction of Jesus’ teaching in the direction of what he pejoratively called “Ebionitism. Theology of the New Testament (trans.314 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW the gospels. but this is not to deny that the religion he taught was a form of Judaism. More importantly. Schleiermacher well understood what this would mean for his theological position: If Christ was so constrained by the limitations of what was given at the time of his appearance. we have to surrender unhistorical claims that insulate Jesus’ religiosity from his Jewish milieu. hence.” StTh 45 (1991) 83–110. 74 Beckmann.72 This alternative view which was rejected by Schleiermacher is. Philadelphia: Fortress. thereby helping to launch the nineteenth century’s quest for the historical Jesus.e. Lives of Jesus series. the stage at which a person like Jesus could have come forth from its womb. S.73 We may properly seek to delineate Jesus’ distinctiveness in relation to his milieu. completely in keeping with the results of contemporary scholarship on Jesus.. 72 Gl. Hence.70 Second. however. Kendrick Grobel. 133 n. Jack C. a view that qualifies the absolute uniqueness of Jesus by stressing his continuity rather than discontinuity with Judaism. This claim is now undermined by the insight that Jesus was wholly rooted in the Jewish tradition. if we are in earnest about the historical Jesus.2. Though Schleiermacher insisted upon the Jewish character of the OT. but a Jew’ in Light of Present Scholarship. First. This means that Jesus was a Jew. Verheyden. 73 Schleiermacher was the first to offer a course of lectures on the life of Jesus in 1819.

77 Adolf von Harnack correctly understood that Jesus “desired no other belief in his person and no other attachment to it than is contained in the keeping of his commandments” (What is Christianity? [trans. Schubert M. Thomas Bailey Saunders. H. the question arises as to how we are to understand the material relation between them. 1982]112–15). He pointed to evidence of God’s providential care in the ordering of nature as had Israel’s wisdom teachers before him. .77 Without rejecting the Torah in principle. 1982) 15–47.76 His central message concerned the coming of God’s sovereign reign (“the kingdom of God”) and he called upon his fellow Jews to be prepared to receive it. Philadelphia: Fortress. Rudolf Bultmann emphasized that no matter how critical Jesus may have been in relation to the other Jewish teachers of his day. of repentance and forgiveness in the teaching of Jesus are not new in comparison with those of the Old Testament and Judaism.” Essays on New Testament Themes (trans. as Niebuhr noted. world. But this development did not negate the material connection between Jesus’ faith in God and the faith of Israel to which he was heir. He continued aspects of the prophetic tradition in his concern for the poor and the oppressed.PAUL E. however radically they may be understood. . Montague. Philadelphia: Fortress. and man. Radical Monotheism and Western Culture (New York: Harper. Jesus’ teaching and ministry were firmly rooted in the OT/Jewish tradition. is that it made this faith available to non-Jews without requiring of them conversion to Judaism. The historic significance of early Christianity. “The Problem of the Historical Jesus. 1970) 39–40. 1986] 125). Ogden helpfully points out that the earliest. Richard Niebuhr. non-christological stratum of the synoptic tradition has a kerygmatic intent inasmuch as it seeks to confront the hearer/reader with the same decision for God called for by Jesus’ words (The Point of Christology [San Francisco: Harper. And his critical interpretation 75 When I employ the phrase “historical Jesus. his preaching was about God. Fortress Texts in Modern Theology.78 This crucial step obviously required a critical sifting of the Jewish scriptures for the purpose of discerning what was still valid for the new community under altered circumstances. As such. [T]he concepts of God. the content of his preaching was nothing else than true Old Testament-Jewish faith in God radicalized in the direction of the great prophets’ preaching. . W. not about himself. CAPETZ 315 kerygma represents a development beyond what the historical Jesus taught. of Law and grace. Richard Niebuhr spoke of the faith that came to expression in Jesus’ words and deeds as a paradigmatic illustration of Israel’s “radical” or thoroughgoing monotheism. it nonetheless first arose in response to his distinctive embodiment of Jewish faith. 78 H. J. Such historical judgments are always matters of probability. he differentiated between greater and lesser commandments in it.75 Although the christological faith of the church is not based directly on the teachings of Jesus. See Ernst Käsemann. 76 This way of posing the question of the material continuity between the historical Jesus and the Christ of faith was the signal contribution of the post-Bultmannian “New Quest” initiated by Ernst Käsemann. . In all these respects.” I simply mean the earliest layers of the synoptic tradition that have the greatest claim to reflect the authentic words of Jesus. though these can never be completely reconstructed with absolute assurance.

The Historian and the Believer: The Morality of Historical Knowledge and Christian Belief (Philadelphia: Westminster. not with a question about the being of Jesus in relation to either divinity or humanity. we should be asking another question: what does Jesus mean for those persons who have experienced redemption as a result of their encounter with him? Christological reflection thus properly begins. likewise stands within the scribal discussion about it. New Haven: Yale University Press. and Jesus is transformed into the historical mediator and revealer” (“The Dogmatics of the History-of Religions School. 1991] 98). James Luther Adams and Walter F. but with the given fact of his salvific impact upon those who call themselves “Christians. Gerrish likens this logic of christological reflection to that found in Athanasius and Luther. 16. Claude Welch is correct in characterizing Schleiermacher’s position as representing only a “halfway” solution to the modern problem of christology.” The question “What does Jesus actually do for Christians?” is. 1999) 98. Bense. Harvey. as Brian Gerrish rightly notes. Christian faith cannot be construed as standing in a completely antithetical relationship to Judaism without pitting itself against Jesus’ own faith as a devout Jew. Bultmann says that this continuity between Jesus and his Jewish heritage explains why “modern liberal Judaism can very well esteem Jesus as teacher.82 But it is possible to go further than Welch does by arguing that even this new formulation of the christological problem is flawed insofar as it asks “about the being of Jesus in himself. the modern problem was to ask in what sense Jesus could be divine given his genuine humanity. 1:34–35.316 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW of the Law. 81 Van A. Correctly understood. the faith of Christians is not opposed to the Jewish faith of Jesus. the God of Jesus becomes the object of faith.”83 Instead of asking about Jesus’ own relation to God (about which we could know next to nothing in any case). but “the confidence that Jesus’ witness [to God] is a true one. with critical thinking. Unlike the classical problem of trying to affirm Jesus’ humanity given the prior assumption of his self-evident divinity.” 80 Troeltsch wrote: “In the absence of historical-critical thinking.”81 Hence. Gerrish. The Point of Christology. Jesus was naturally identified with God in order that he might be the immediate object of faith. Minneapolis: Fortress. as distinct from asking about the meaning of Jesus for us.”84 It is this aspect of Schleiermacher’s approach—namely.” not even the miracle of Jesus’ sinless perfection. Theology of the New Testament. 83 Ogden. rather.80 “Christian faith is not belief in a miracle. 1972–1985) 1:83–84. “the crucial one to ask in any Christian community. Saving and Secular Faith: An Invitation to Systematic Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress. his insistence that christology arises from reflection upon Jesus’ redemptive influence— that remains worthy of development 79 Bultmann. 1966) 274. if the christological project is to be duly launched.79 Even the love-command that has been so important in Christian ethics is derived from Jesus’ summary of the Torah. A. 82 Claude Welch. it is trust in and loyalty to God through Jesus. in spite of its radicality. Protestant Thought in the Nineteenth Century (2 vols.” in Religion in History [trans.. . then. 84 B.

it would allow us to state the meaning of Jesus for contemporary Christian experience while leaving behind untenable claims about the historical Jesus and his supposedly sinless relation to God. however. Although Schleiermacher affirmed that the faith of Christians in every age is none other than that experienced by Jesus’ original disciples. § 11. 87 Gl. Such a focus on the NT’s depiction of Jesus and its actualization in the church’s preaching does not require assertions about Jesus that exempt him from the contingencies of his own historical circumstance as well as from our common humanity. we have to address the role of preaching in the church. if pursued consistently.85 After Jesus’ death.” TD 64 [2007] 299). which we assume every Christian to possess. In this respect. unsurpassably significant for revelation and soteriology” (“Basic Christological Distinctions.88 Whereas the premodern tradition had seen in religious diversity a symptom of sin. Gl. universally. Not only is redemption for Schleiermacher the central idea in the Christian religion. it is the NT’s portrait of him that serves as the occasion for an experience of redemption. the church’s proclamation can be understood as a continuation of Jesus’ ministry. however. Wildman defines the “Absolutist Principle” as “the proposition that Jesus Christ is absolutely. but Jesus is its only mediator. of the exclusive superiority of Christianity” without.87 A paradox in Schleiermacher’s thought is precisely how this “absolutist” conception of christology and soteriology is to be related to his celebration of diversity in religion.2. uniquely.86 He spoke of “the conviction. CAPETZ 317 since. he did acknowledge a difference in the medium through which this faith has been evoked and sustained: To us is given. an assumption he shared with the classical tradition that he in other ways sought to revise. instead of [Jesus’] personal efficacy. But this latter assertion reflects an absolutizing of what is historically relative and thus is contrary to a truly historical viewpoint. We must 85 Gl.3. If we ask how Jesus is efficacious in a redemptive manner today. It appears.3. This biblical picture of Christ thus takes the place that Jesus once had in relation to those who came into personal contact with him. all Christians are nonetheless agreed that redemption can come only through Jesus. § 88. 86 .PAUL E. This modification of Schleiermacher’s proposed avenue to christological reflection need not entail the problematic conclusion that redemption from sin can be achieved only through an encounter with Jesus. Schleiermacher viewed it as reflecting the varying historical circumstances in which religions originate and develop. giving a satisfactory explanation as to why we should be convinced of this. 88 Wesley J. § 7. as though he wanted to have it both ways: while an appreciation of diversity is ingredient in a genuinely historical understanding of religion. only that of his community insofar as even the picture (Bild) of him found in the Bible likewise only came into being and persists because of it.

The significance of Jesus Christ could be adequately and accurately expressed without the aid of the Absolutist Principle. Richard Niebuhr. Schleiermacher violated the strictures of his own 89 Wildman. which cannot render judgments about non-Christian religious experience. Yet it does not follow that a redemptive experience of God must always be constituted by a relation to Jesus. tracing what he calls “the Absolutist Principle” back to the church’s earliest stages of christological reflection.89 This brand of christocentrism and its corollary that salvation is a human possibility solely in connection with Jesus are. in Wildman’s view. In place of absolutism.” 302. The Meaning of Revelation (New York: Macmillan. Modest christologies have tremendous advantages over their absolutist counterparts because they are not required to adopt the view that cosmic history and religious insight reach their culmination in the figure of Jesus and in his reception as the Christ. Ibid. made virtually the same point: “A critical historical theology cannot . that Christians are those who are certain that their own experience of redemption is constituted by a relation to Jesus. . namely. . Wesley Wildman. 91 H. 1941) 13. A descriptive account of the Christian religious experience rightly emphasizes what Schleiermacher understood. explains the basic confusion here: The origins of the Absolutist Principle are understandable. 90 .. Niebuhr’s work is an example of how a theologian employing a “confessional” theological method quite similar to that of Schleiermacher can nonetheless put different material content into it. The Christian religious affections thus have a necessary connection to the figure of Jesus as mediated by the church’s gospel. “Basic Christological Distinctions.”91 By declaring that apart from Jesus the consciousness of God is tainted and impure. who was conscious of his formal continuity with Schleiermacher’s method. there were never any compelling reasons for absolutizing the interpretation of those transforming experiences. The church’s traditional polemic against the synagogue is a consequence of universalizing its historically particular religious experience so that those who stand in other streams of religious history are viewed as simply bereft of anything like the redemptive benefits that accrue to Christians as a result of their relation to Jesus. Such a claim exceeds the bounds of Schleiermacher’s method of dogmatics. as Christians sought to account for their powerful experiences of salvation in Jesus Christ. 303. prescribe what form religious life must take in all places and all times beyond the limits of its own historical system. Wildman proposes a “modest” christological conception that does not make such exaggerated claims.318 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW find some distinction that will allow us to extricate ourselves from this contradiction while still acknowledging the legitimate motive that misled Schleiermacher to fall victim to it. Nevertheless. the major doctrinal factors that have also created the problem of the church’s relation to Judaism.90 Niebuhr.

made precisely this point when he differentiated between three senses of revelation as “universal. it may be asked whether there is not also a third sense in which we can and should speak of revelation in reference to that religious development wherein the original revelation. 93 . which in itself may be quite inchoate. The universal revelation as such is not the immediate preparation for the final revelation.2.” “preparatory. which only allows for a descriptive account of the Christian religious experience.95 Tillich thus claimed that “the Old Testament is an inseparable part of the revelation of Jesus as the Christ. 1:133. Systematic Theology (3 vols. 1957. Types of Modern Theology (ed.”94 Since the meanings of “universal” and “final” are sufficiently similar to the two senses of revelation found in Schleiermacher’s thought. Frei called Tillich “Schleiermacher redivivus. we ought to inquire into what Tillich meant by a “preparatory” revelation. CAPETZ 319 theological method. Placher. Still. George Hunsinger and William C. in Schleiermacher’s usage. but it appears over and over as that against which the Old Testament fights” (Systematic Theology. 1963) 1:142. § 94. New Haven: Yale University Press. 94 Hans W.97 92 Gl. for Schleiermacher.PAUL E. Revelation. Systematic Theology.93 Moreover. 1992) 3. Paul Tillich.”96 What is apparent in Tillich. 96 Tillich. a theologian who was quite explicit about his indebtedness to Schleiermacher. Such a nuanced approach is absent from Schleiermacher’s portrayal. 97 Tillich responded to the charge that Judaism is inherently nationalistic: “The Old Testament certainly is full of Jewish nationalism. Tillich nevertheless attributed an unparalleled significance to the history of Israel: The revelation through the prophets is the direct concrete preparation of the final revelation. and it cannot be separated from it.” Frei. Schleiermacher called this “an original revelation of God to the human being” (Gl. 95 Paul Tillich. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 68.. refers either to the original revelation of God to human self-consciousness or to the historical revelation in Christ that is the basis of the church’s proclamation. 1951. 1:142). did in fact become a clear monotheistic consciousness of God. is a deep appreciation of the religious significance of Israel’s history as having provided the indispensable presupposition of the church’s faith in Jesus. The revelation in Christ has a “point of contact” (Anknüpfungspunkt) in the innate awareness of God given with human selfconsciousness simply as such. Speaking as a Christian for whom Jesus as the Christ is the final revelatory event in history.4).92 Schleiermacher did not derive all knowledge of God exclusively from Christ in Barthian fashion. “revelation” is not a theological principle that stands in an oppositional relation to the mode of understanding to be derived from the historical interpretation of religion. § 4. though missing from Schleiermacher. as is the case with Barth (and presumably also Beckmann). only the universal revelation criticized and transformed by the prophetism of the Old Testament is such preparation.” and “final.

notes to § 10 and 15 from the first German edition of 1821– 1822). 100 Not only could Schleiermacher’s method have allowed him to paint a more positive portrait of Judaism. But to say that Jesus is of central importance to Christians is not to say that everything important in Christianity began with him. The point is simply that another theologian. § 12. would it not be possible for Schleiermacher to grant the truth in what Tillich said since he well understood that ethical monotheism is an ingredient in the Christian religious experience?99 Cumulatively.98 He also acknowledged that the Christian notion of redemption. Christians need not deny the indispensable role played by the Israelite-Jewish tradition in establishing precisely those presuppositions without which neither Jesus nor the church would have been possible and on the sole basis of which their fundamental import is intelligible. Schleiermacher did attribute the emergence of monotheism to “revelation” (Gl. soteriology. In a handwritten marginal comment. to say that these alternatives to Schleiermacher’s own views are allowed by his method is not to imply that he personally would have agreed with them. Are these not admissions that. Nonetheless. when he said that a universal redeemer could only have come from a monotheistic people. there is one respect in which Schleiermacher credited the history of Israel. can arrive at a different construal of the nature of Christian faith that likewise claims to be a faithful rendering of the religious affections evoked and sustained by the church’s preaching. 504. mutatis mutandis. the church could never have arisen in the first place? On his own terms. but Jewish theologians could easily avail themselves. While Schleiermacher was correct to identify the essence of Christian faith as monotheistic and ethical and focused on the figure of Jesus for the purpose of redemption from sin. of his formal 99 . this alternative proposal has the advantage that it coheres with the best historical scholarship in a way no longer true of Schleiermacher’s theology. working from the same model for theological inquiry initially proposed by Schleiermacher.100 98 Gl. he was wrong to draw such a sharp antithesis between Israel’s faith and that of the church. presupposing as it does the reality of freedom and consequently of guilt on account of sin. § 2:502. It is not necessary to demonstrate more than this in order to make a convincing case that Schleiermacher’s material interpretation of doctrine can be criticized according to the methodological criteria he set forth as adequate to the unprecedented responsibilities of modern theology. All the same. and the multiple meanings of revelation.320 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW Schleiermacher was right to locate what is new about Christianity in the religious significance Jesus has for Christians. apart from the prior religious development in Israel. namely. these various considerations more than suffice to justify the conclusion that Schleiermacher’s formal method of theology allows for a revision of his material positions in the doctrinal loci of christology. is intelligible solely on the basis of the teleological type of religion which first emerged in Israel. there is every reason to affirm a strong material connection between the Jewish message of Jesus and the church’s proclamation of his ongoing significance.1. Of course. Indeed.

he did not defend it on the mythological grounds that Jews and Christians worship two distinct deities.101 The church thereby secured its christological exegesis of the OT.” The Bible after Babel: Historical Criticism in a Postmodern Age (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. From the right. Christopher R. it simultaneously rejected his insistence upon the literal sense of the text. see Collins. not to the Jews. that it alone makes possible an understanding of the biblical texts free from the distortions of anachronism. seeking to rehabilitate a traditional view of biblical authority. Martin. When the proto-orthodox church repudiated Marcion’s proposal by retaining the OT as the first part of its canon. namely. Quite early in the church’s history. he was completely consistent in arguing that the church should dispense with the Jewish Bible in favor of a canon of distinctively Christian writings. 101 Jaroslav Pelikan notes: “The Old Testament achieved and maintained its status as Christian Scripture with the aid of spiritual exegesis. CAPETZ 321 ■ Historical Criticism and the Canon of Scripture The question of the OT’s right to a place in the Christian Bible did not first arise with historical criticism. There was no early Christian who simultaneously acknowledged the doctrinal authority of the Old Testament and interpreted it literally” (The Emergence of the Catholic Tradition 100–600 [vol. Although Schleiermacher shared Marcion’s view of the absolute novelty of Christianity in relation to Judaism. he was right in criticizing previous theologians for trying to make the OT say something about Jesus that it does not say. Yet he was alone in his categorical rejection of all spiritualizing modes of exegesis. On the basis of historical scholarship. the anti-Marcionite church never refuted Marcion on his own terms. He model of theology. Seitz. but rather implicitly accepted his formulation of the crucial issue: if the OT is not Christian. His argument underscored the legitimate rationale for historical criticism. which backed up its claim that Israel’s scriptures belong to the Christians. 2005) 9–25. Dale B. historical-critical readings of scripture have to be defended against attacks from both ends of the theological spectrum. 2004] 97). 102 Today. argues against “the notion that Christians should insist on the necessity of historical criticism” (Sex and the Single Savior: Gender and Sexuality in Biblical Interpretation [Louisville: John Knox. 2006] 9). 1971] 81). denies that historical-critical study has any constitutive significance for theology (Word Without End: The Old Testament as Abiding Theological Witness [Waco: Baylor University Press. it is to his credit that he frankly acknowledged the Jewish character of the OT and pleaded for an end to the church’s historic polemic against the synagogue over its rightful possession. 2005] 33). Since Marcion believed that Jesus taught an altogether new religion antithetical to Judaism. 1 of The Christian Tradition. Collins provides a cogent rejoinder to this type of conservative argument (“Biblical Theology and the History of Israelite Religion. “Historical Criticism and Its Postmodern Critics.” Encounters with Biblical Theology [Minneapolis: Fortress. On the left. he recognized the real differences between the OT and the NT that had been smoothed over by premodern forms of exegesis. For a critique of this type of argument. . Chicago: University of Chicago Press.102 Indeed. it cannot be canonical. the OT became problematic because it was also the Bible of the synagogue (Tanakh). as a result.PAUL E. working from a “postmodern” position. John J. For this reason.

Drawing a very different conclusion from historical study. 104 . radically redefined its content in light of his non-messianic fate. in which case the church should hand it back to the synagogue. Beckmann concludes with this pronouncement: “For the sake of the faith affirmed in the New Testament. Beckmann’s inadequacy is that he never thinks of arguing against Schleiermacher’s thesis on the basis of the latter’s own hermeneutical presuppositions. 1973) ix. must we abandon the strictly historical perspective in favor of a special theological or “sacred” hermeneutic that treats the Bible as a unique case to which the general rules of interpretation do not apply? Should these turn out to be in fact our only options. as Strauss clearly understood. Many modern Jews also acknowledge the mythological or symbolic character of the messianic idea. moreover. . This failing mirrors that of nascent orthodoxy.322 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW was. Like Hofmann and Barth. But there is another option beyond this impasse that has not been sufficiently considered.104 Moreover. Beckmann tips his hat to the legitimacy of historical-critical readings of the Bible in principle but only to shift the grounds of discussion by appealing to dogmatic categories of interpretation derived from the NT in order to argue for the canonical status of the OT. of the relationship between the two faiths”: We cannot afford the two faiths an equal and distinct right to exist while we continue to regard Judaism as the unchanged word of the Bible from which 103 Beckmann. For the sake of arriving at a different conclusion than Schleiermacher’s about the OT’s place in the Christian canon. in which case the Jews’ claim to it is invalidated by their lack of faith in its christological referent. Christian theologians must insist against the Jewish ‘no’ that Jesus of Nazareth is the messiah promised in the Old Testament. Rabbi Michael Hilton calls upon Jews and Christians to revise their theological traditions on the basis of a “more accurate understanding . . See the Prayer Book of Conservative Judaism. Not only has historical research into the OT undermined the traditional “proofs” of Jesus’ messianic status. The irony here is that Beckmann has tacitly accepted Schleiermacher’s neo-Marcionite formulation of the basic issue: either the OT is not strictly speaking a Christian book. or the true meaning of the OT consists in its prophetic witness to Jesus as Israel’s messiah. by ascribing this title to Jesus. Sabbath and Festival Prayer Book (New York: The Rabbinical Assembly of America and the United Synagogue of America.”103 But it can be asked of Beckmann why Christian theologians must continue to press this claim. then modern Protestant theology has certainly been brought to an impasse by historical criticism. After his otherwise admirable recounting of the story of historical-critical research into the OT. prescient in his prediction that critical scholarship would occasion difficult problems for the church’s inherited theology. which was unable to reply to Marcion except by evading his direct challenge. Die fremde Wurzel. the early Christians. 349. but even the very idea of a “messiah” appears to be a mythological or symbolic one.

. in effect. hence. we now recognize that it is historically false as well as theologically misleading to claim that the Old Testament writings. third. . Yet the usual alternative to it. . Historical scholarship not only separated OT and NT into distinct fields of study but also identified within each testament diverse theological traditions that could not easily be harmonized. 105 Michael Hilton. . . Prior to modernity. . That the New Testament is to be used in theology only under the authority of the Jesus-kerygma poses no particular difficulty. For him. the OT cannot be invoked to defend Christianity against Judaism. However. . and. . that is. antithetical to Christianity (Marcion. 1994) 2. The Christian Effect on Jewish Life (London: SCM. with Jesus. . his handling of the OT continues to be denounced. are expressly about Jesus. Barth. The usual view on this point in recent Protestant theology is. The first two points are relatively non-controversial in theology today. Their rejection of the allegorical method and correlative insistence upon a literal exegesis undergirded their use of the Bible as the critical principle for testing the medieval tradition. denied to Judaism (Hofmann. hence. . . second. this familiar view of the use of the Old Testament is now scarcely less untenable than the views of the Reformers and of the orthodox dogmaticians of which it is a revision. expressly have to do with the subject-term of this kerygma. CAPETZ 323 Christianity deviated. these two commitments could be affirmed simultaneously because it was axiomatic that the Bible as a whole provided an unambiguous foundation for doctrine. is even more problematic.PAUL E. Harnack) or an OT spiritually interpreted as a witness to Christian faith and. Perceiving the problem. too. the “true” or normative NT canon has to be critically distinguished from its received historical form. illustrated by Beckmann.105 Hilton’s proposal thus points the way beyond that untenable impasse of either an OT historically interpreted as a document of Jewish religion and. since the New Testament’s writings . But in the modern period. the NT should not be used to support Protestant doctrine against Catholicism. these two aspects of the Reformation heritage came into conflict. . or Christianity the true fulfillment of the prophets which the Jews rejected. Beckmann). The Reformers insisted that the Bible be allowed to speak in its own voice and that the Bible should be the sole norm of Christian doctrine. this: just as the New Testament is to be used by theology only under the control of the New Testament message. . But . this entailed three departures from the inherited approach to the scriptures: first. Schleiermacher. so the Old Testament’s authority for theological reflection and argument is subject to that of the New. Schleiermacher fought against an uncritical use of the Bible as a proof text for doctrine. Schubert Ogden locates the problem here in the assumption that the OT is to be judged by the same critical norm as is the NT. The modern impasse in Protestant theology with respect to the OT results from the dual legacy of the Reformation. Still. .

“Concerning We Should Think of Saying that There are Not Three Gods to Ablabius. forces the question whether the Old Testament may be properly used as a theological authority at all.109 106 Schubert M. Rusch. . Only in this case the theological criterion should not be the kerygma as in the NT. see Gregory of Nyssa. Since Schleiermacher acknowledged the necessity of a theological criticism (Sachkritik) of the NT scriptures. § 32).106 Here Ogden formulates the theological question of the OT in the only way it can be taken seriously on the basis of Schleiermacher’s premises. Accordingly. 5). Hence. the decision to retain the OT was simultaneously a reassertion of monotheism as the indispensable presupposition of Christian faith. 1980) 151. “The Authority of Scripture for Theology. the OT’s enduring import for the church is to insure that its faith is never interpreted in such a manner that explicitly contradicts or even implicitly denies these presuppositions which are contained in all authentic proclamation of the gospel. 109 Neither Marcion and nor the Gnostics were monotheists. William G. It also validates the legitimate motive at work in the ancient church’s retention of the OT without endorsing the inadequate argumentation on which it based this decision. n. 108 Rolf P. but rather the indispensable monotheistic-ethical presuppositions on the sole basis of which the NT’s christological and soteriological affirmations are intelligible and apart from which they are easily distorted in a dualistic and polytheistic manner. For an example of how the OT’s witness to monotheism functioned as a constraint upon the development of trinitarian doctrine. Philadelphia: Fortress.107 That the ethical monotheism to which the OT bears definitive witness has as a matter of fact actually functioned in this sense as a necessary—though not sufficient—norm by which to test the adequacy of the various interpretations of the gospel found in the NT and the post-biblical tradition is ample warrant for deeming the OT to be of indispensable religious and theological value to Christian faith. therefore. there is no reason in principle not to insist upon a similar approach to the OT. 1995] 7. Knierim asks “whether the understanding of Christ as expressed in diverse theological interpretations triggered by the New Testament is at times so controversial among Christians. that they reflect a polytheistic more than a monotheistic Christology or Christianity” (The Task of Old Testament Theology: Method and Cases [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. today as throughout history.108 This rationale for attributing a definite sort of canonical status to the OT—different from that of the NT but no less important—does not sidestep the challenge of historical criticism to traditional theology.” The Trinitarian Controversy (trans. 107 Schleiermacher said of the less distinctively Christian doctrines elaborated in the first part of his dogmatics that they are “both presupposed by and contained in every Christian religious affection” (Gl. This question can be rephrased by asking whether Schleiermacher’s perfectly sound argument against an illicit use of the OT in Christian theology precludes altogether the possibility of an admissible use therein.” On Theology (San Francisco: Harper. Ogden. at the crucial point is not like the New.324 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW [R]ecognizing that the Old Testament does not bear witness to Christ prophetically in the sense in which the early church understood it to do and. 1986) 65–66.

111 Ogden submits that “the key” to answering the question of the OT lies in “the insight that the writings of the Old Testament contain the most fundamental presuppositions . 113 Ernst Troeltsch.” 93. . is also to recognize the religion of Israel as its prior stage and presupposition. Harvey. in its way. for without it. . . nor does using it as such pose any particular difficulty” (Ogden. The Christian Faith (trans. . 5. .”112 Regarding the OT. there is no doubt that the Old Testament. Schleiermacher. however. he gave this positive assessment of Schleiermacher’s new departure for modern theology: “His program simply needs to be carried out consistently. . Christianity is incomprehensible. “A Word in Defense of Schleiermacher’s Theological Method. we must look upon his program for theology as “an unfulfilled possibility and not as an accomplishment forever witnessing to the errors following from his methodological starting point. of the Jesuskerygma. it includes a discussion of “The Religious Significance of the History of Israel” (85–86). . Fortress Texts in Modern Theology. but also in reminding us of unfinished business that has to be on any agenda for future constructive work. cannot be the formation of connections other than the historical.” 66–67). 112 “The Dogmatics of the History-of-Religions School. he affirmed: “To acknowledge Christianity . 1991) 85. Minneapolis: Fortress. But if this is correct.PAUL E. Paul. CAPETZ 325 Not the least advantage of this alternative systematic proposal for formulating both the question and its answer is that it is not constrained to secure its positive valuation of the OT by diminishing the import of historical criticism.111 Ernst Troeltsch.” JR 42 (1962) 153.110 Moreover. . The theological relation. thus pitting a special theological hermeneutic against a so-called “general” hermeneutic. who pursued the theological implications of a consistently historical approach to religion more fully than anyone either before or after him. 1966] 31). noted that “the strictly historical interpretation of Christianity has made tremendous strides and has furnished a historical-critical picture very different from that which lay before . it does not entail a denial of the synagogue’s equally valid claim to possession of Israel’s scripture. n. . . 110 James Barr identifies the usual false dichotomy at work here: “It is sometimes said that the historical relation between the Old and New Testaments is not in question. “The Authority of Scripture for Theology.” 108.”113 Nonetheless. 114 “The Dogmatics of the History-of-Religions School. but that the problem lies in stating a theological relation. it must rather be the seeing of theological values in the historical connections” (Old and New in Interpretation: A Study of the Two Testaments [London: SCM. Though Troeltschs’s dogmatics follows Schleiermacher’s model. Hardly any change is necessary. is also a theological authority.”114 While Schleiermacher’s execution of his self-appointed task is justifiably subject to criticism. Garrett E.”115 Perhaps the true service of historical theology consists not only in providing new angles of vision that illuminate the ambiguities of our religious past. 115 Van A.

Bagger Brown University In the introduction to Prey into Hunter: The Politics of Religious Experience. etc. for instance. and Ritual: Remarks on Geertz and Bloch. See.” Social Anthropology 7 (1999) 135–53.From the Double Movement to the Double Danger: Kierkegaard and Rebounding Violence* Matthew C. and make this structure appear to be present 1 everywhere. the temptation. Because anthropologists are trained in fieldwork—interview techniques. Matt Redovan. Independent readers have repeatedly criticized Bloch’s skewed presentation of his Japanese example.” Ziggurat: The Brown Journal of Religion 1 (2006) 17–26. and anonymous referees commented helpfully on a draft of this essay. HTR 102:3 (2009) 327–52 .—they tend not to apply their theories about human beliefs and behaviors to texts. Despite widespread commitment to “the model of the text” * Mark Cladis. “Religion. independent readers. for instance. 1 Maurice Bloch. Bloch writes. Gellner. when arguing for what he describes as a “quasi-universal” religious structure. correct for “the problem of skewed presentation” of examples. to present “a tendentious selection of examples. and Nicholas Van Sant. Politics. the nineteenth-century Danish theologian. Prey into Hunter (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2 Independent readers can also. Bloch is an anthropologist and builds his argument using ethnographic examples. however. Wendell Dietrich. participant observation. provocative volume. who “choose to continue the exercise by trying to see whether what is proposed here stands up to 2 the test of the other cases they know” become the most important critical constraint. Danielle Novetsky Friedman. David N. This article does not simply apply Bloch’s theory to a new case. He acknowledges.” In the face of this danger. 1992) 2. “A Tendentious Presentation of Details: Reviewing the Japanese Case in Maurice Bloch’s Prey into Hunter. In what follows I test Bloch’s theory of rebounding violence against the thought of Søren Kierkegaard. Maurice Bloch makes some forthright admissions about the methodological and theoretical pitfalls threatening a project of the scope he undertakes in this slim.



in anthropological practice, anthropologists generally focus on ritual, kinship,
and politics, not texts. Scholars of religion, on the other hand, have applied
anthropological theory and other kinds of social scientific theory to the study of
texts. It is not uncommon or surprising to see New Testament scholars, for example,
using social scientific theory to elucidate Paul’s letters. Students of modern Western
texts, however, generally limit themselves to the hermeneutic task of understanding
the text, and eschew explanatory theories, anthropological or otherwise. There is
no principled reason for this reluctance: Modern Western texts, like all linguistic
products, human behavior, cultural artifacts, and social practices, both require
interpretation and invite social-scientific explanation.3 Perhaps modern Western
texts are too close to home, so to speak. As a result the theories are deprived of a
field of application and assessment, and textual scholars are deprived of the deeper
insight into the texts the theories might afford.
I offer what follows as one example of how anthropological theory might enrich
the study of modern Western texts, and vice versa. On the one hand, Bloch’s
theory helps the Kierkegaard scholar make sense of some puzzling changes in
Kierkegaard’s views and brings some neglected aspects of Kierkegaard’s thought
into relief. On the other hand, the specifics of Kierkegaard’s thought indicate that
Bloch misconstrues the object of his theory. Discovering in Kierkegaard’s authorship
the dynamic that Bloch describes not only restores to Kierkegaard’s sociopolitical
concerns their proper significance, but also reveals that the phrase ‘rebounding
consumption’ better captures the dynamic than does ‘rebounding violence’ and
that the theory is better ranged alongside theories of the body and society than
conceived as a theory of religion and violence. The singularity of Kierkegaard’s
project and the self-consciousness with which he composed his works, which are
neither ritual nor myth nor a kinship system, restores to anthropological theory,
moreover, an often-neglected emphasis on individual agency.

Texts require interpretation for which the author’s meaning and intentions are normative,
but the author’s beliefs and intention are susceptible to explanations that depart from his or her
understanding. The same rules apply to texts that compose the various stages in the history of the
reception of another text (e.g., sermons or biblical commentaries). The interpretation of (e.g.) rituals
and social formations is, of course, a more complex matter because of the question of who “authors”
a ritual or social formation. In this article I argue that applying social theory to a modern Western
thinker reminds us to credit the agency or authorship of the individuals or groups who produce
rituals and social formations. Our explanations need not depart drastically from the understandings
of those responsible for rituals or social formations. On interpretation of texts, see Quentin Skinner’s
articles in Meaning and Context: Quentin Skinner and His Critics (ed. James Tully; Princeton, N.J.:
Princeton University Press, 1989). On the divergent imperatives of interpretation and explanation,
see Wayne Proudfoot, Religious Experience (Berkeley, Calif.: University of California Press, 1985)



■ Bloch’s Theory of Rebounding Violence
In Prey into Hunter, Maurice Bloch identifies what he describes as a “quasiuniversal” minimal religious structure common to many religious phenomena.
Bloch finds this structure in rituals of various sorts—sacrifice, initiation, marriage,
spirit mediumship—but also sees it in myth, kinship systems, and millenarian cults.
The startling quasi-universality of this minimal structure derives, he argues, from
1) a very basic understanding of the biological processes of life, an understanding
present in all cultures, and 2) “problems intrinsic to the human condition.” Armed
with shared understandings and faced with the same problems, many cultures
produce the same minimal religious structure, but they elaborate the structure in
different ways, and employ different symbols and metaphors to articulate it. Bloch
labels this minimal structure “rebounding violence.”
All humans, Bloch claims, have at some level a conception of life in which birth is
the beginning of, or a milestone in, a process of growth culminating in reproduction,
followed by a decline leading to death. This “transformative dialectic” is seen as
involving all living things, “if only because one species provides food for another.”
Bloch speculates that this basic conception of biological life is partly innate and
partly the product of our interactions with other species. Given this conception,
however, a problem arises concerning human social existence. How can permanent,
life-transcending politico-social structures be created out of these transient and
discrete constituents? How, in other words, can humans establish an authority for
social and political institutions that transcends “the fluidity of human life?” The
phenomenon of rebounding violence gives an answer to this problem.
Rebounding violence begins with an inversion or transformation of the basic
conception of life’s biological processes. Religion posits a life superior to ordinary
mundane life, which pertains to a superior, transcendental element in persons. Unlike
ordinary biological life, moreover, where birth and growth lead to flourishing, in
relation to this extraordinary life, weakening and death lead to flourishing. The
religious conception reverses the biological process, leading to a state beyond
process. This reversal is represented in rituals as a violent conquest of an individual’s
vitality whereby the individual, now fully transcendental, becomes part of something
beyond process. The Orokaiva of Papua, New Guinea, for example, conceive of
people as part vital pig and part transcendental spirit. In their initiation ritual, elders
representing the ancestral spirits symbolically hunt and kill the initiates in a pig
hunt. The weakening and death of the pig aspect of the initiates transforms the
initiates into transcendental spirits. This first violence, which is largely symbolic,
signifies one’s surrender to the transcendental. A prominent feature of this stage
of rebounding violence is that one colludes in the vanquishing of one’s vitality by
the transcendental. (In the Orokaiva case it is the village adults who cooperate with

Bloch, Prey into Hunter, 23.
Ibid., 4.
Ibid., 79.



the invading spirits.) One submits to conquest by the transcendental and thereby
transcends biological life, with this conquest linking one to a unified entity beyond
process that is the basis for social and political institutions. One abandons one’s
vitality in favor of permanent order. But this move to the transcendental has no
social and political significance unless the transcendental can be rejoined to the
world of process.
In the second, “rebounding,” violence the transcendental rejoins the world
of process by conquering and consuming life, but at this stage the conquered
vitality must be distinct from one’s original or native vitality. It must be external
vitality, to ensure that the revitalization does not negate the first violence. If the
transcendental recovered the native vitality, it might look like vitality reconquering
the transcendent. The rebounding violence is not a simple return to native vitality.
Rather, the returning person “is a changed person, a permanently transcendental
person who can therefore dominate the here and now of which he previously was a
part.” Rebounding violence is figured primarily through the consumption of animals
“as food, often literally through the mouth,” but also through the consumption of
plants, the taking of women in marriage, or, in some circumstances, the subjugation
of other peoples. This recovery of vitality must be violent to demonstrate the
subordination of vitality to permanent order. The Orokaiva initiates, who formerly
were hunted as pigs, dressed now as spirits return to the village from the initiation
hut as hunters of pigs. Their first act upon reentering the village is to engage in an
actual pig hunt.
The idiom of rebounding violence makes it possible to see humans as integrated
with the transcendent basis for permanent institutions, but yet vital.
In ritual representations, native vitality is replaced by a conquered, external,
consumed vitality. It is through this substitution that an image is created in
which humans can leave this life and join the transcendental, yet still not be
alienated from the here and now. They become part of permanent institutions,
and as superior beings they can reincorporate the present life through the
idiom of conquest or consumption.

Rebounding violence provides a scenario where humans can appear simultaneously
beyond process yet endowed with life. It responds to the puzzle concerning the
authority and permanency of politico-social structures.
Bloch argues further that rebounding violence includes “an experiential
dichotemisation of the subjects into an over-vital side and a transcendental side.”
Where the idiom of rebounding violence is invoked, people come to experience
themselves as composed of these two opposed elements in tension with one another.


Ibid., 5.
Ibid., 6.
Ibid., 5.

[T]he person is represented as symbolically dual.. This is what remains beyond the processes inherent in any individual. In these cases rebounding violence doesn’t merely legitimate social and political institutions. that depending upon a “people’s evaluation of their politico-economic circumstances. thereby producing an image of a permanent order which nonetheless contains vitality. To summarize. for instance. Thus the moral entity remains both a particular living unit and also an impersonal part of a transcendent order. rebounding violence works to reproduce and legitimate social and political structures in the face of the transiency of the individuals in a society. In this way the central puzzle of the creation of the apparently permanent 11 out of the transformative is phenomenologically achieved. it legitimates expansionism. The rulers consume their subjects. can seek to delegitimize them altogether by interrupting the dynamic of rebounding violence. . In other circumstances.” the logic of rebounding violence can lead to very different social and political outcomes than simply the reproduction of social 12 and political structures. the two parts are set in motion one against the other so that the one is. something transcendental drives out native vitality. 21. Using early Christianity and the 1863 rebellion of the Merina on Madagascar as his examples. The consuming element was originally defined by opposition to the vital as the moral. When a people is strong relative to their neighbors. the rebounding violence of the second stage can extend beyond the ritual itself and lead to military aggression against outsiders. which culminates in political significance. Ibid. Bloch argues. he argues that millenarian movements employ the 11 12 Ibid. with one side chaotic but vital and the other superior and transcendental. In the first stage (dramatically enacted in ritual. In these cases rebounding violence legitimates social hierarchy. The congruence of the internal dynamic with the external drama lends emotional force to rebounding violence. In discussing these last cases Bloch attempts to elucidate the nature of millenarian movements. This two stage structure grounds human political and social institutions in a world beyond process. and/or experienced within the self). 98. Finally. BAGGER 331 Corresponding to the external public drama in ritual. an internal experiential dynamic follows the same logic. In the second stage. Then. the returning initiates’ pig hunt served as a prelude to military campaigns against neighboring peoples. those who have lost any hope for the social and political institutions in which they live. the transcendental recovers and masters (an external) vitality. however. the idiom of rebounding violence in the hands of a ruling class can lead to aggression against its subjects. often literally. superior aspect of the person. disappearing into the mouth of the other. At certain points in Orokaiva history.. It remains unchanged but it swallows up vitality. rebounding violence includes two stages of violence.MATTHEW C. In other words.

” and when the group has “given up hope of a 14 mundane solution to their ills. Christendom makes faith too easy. Ibid. they will refrain from enacting the rebounding violence.” In such circumstances the group (often in defiance of established authorities) initiates the first violence and submits to conquest by the transcendental.J. it appears where a group is “disillusioned with their politico-religious leadership.: Princeton University Press. Millenarianism arises in the context of a group perceiving what it takes to be the “political and religious failure 13 of [its] own leaders. In Kierkegaard’s usage Christendom designates those regions (principally. 14 .. the millenarian movement interrupts the reproduction of religious and political institutions as well. 1998) 23.. 15 Søren Kierkegaard. makes becoming a Christian a matter of course. In his retrospective The Point of View for My Work as an Author.332 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW logic of rebounding violence to subversive ends. 91. Kierkegaard explains that his “whole authorship pertains” to the problem 15 of Christianity and Christendom. By giving the transcendental purchase in the mundane world. the rebounding violence serves to legitimate social and political institutions. Howard and Edna Hong. 94. agriculture). political establishment. When a group feels that existing institutions have forsaken the transcendental and they see no mundane hope of reforming the institutions. primarily Christian writings. and culture.. in Kierkegaard’s mind. Throughout his corpus Kierkegaard criticizes Christendom because he believes it discourages the development of the highest possibilities of both individual selfhood and Christian commitment. Having become transcendental. culminating in Concluding Unscientific Postscript by Johannes Climacus vs. Princeton. but thereby also undermine the legitimacy of existing social and political institutions. the second pseudonymous authorship in the voice of Anti-Climacus. nineteenth-century Denmark) where Christianity has been integrated into the prevailing social arrangements. They seek to sever the bonds between transcendental authority and the existing religious and political structures. They flee to the transcendental without the intention of returning.” More specifically. The refusal to complete the cycle of rebounding violence is implicitly an attack on the established order. The Point of View for My Work as an Author (trans. the first pseudonymous authorship. N. etc. Most importantly. a millenarian movement will refuse to carry out the rebounding violence. In Christendom one is Christian by birth and citizenship. It portrays a 13 Ibid. they cease activities related to reproduction and biological process (e. ■ Kierkegaard and the Double Movement Søren Kierkegaard’s authorship has been periodized in a variety of ways: primarily ethical vs. which they [feel has] abandoned them and their transcendental righteousness. Eschewing all forms of reproduction. I believe the writings can be chronologically divided most profitably in terms of Kierkegaard’s changing relationship to Christendom. sex.g.

moreover. is the promise of an enduring patrilineage and military conquest. that genuine politics requires that free and passionate individuals come into association. rebounding stage of violence occurs with the substitution and sacrifice of the ram.” The first pseudonymous authorship belongs entirely to this period. then sought utterly to destroy Christendom. and the possibility of genuine politics. Fear and Trembling (trans. issued an ultimatum to the Primate of Denmark. He wanted to write as a “corrective to the present age” and in his journals repeatedly characterizes his project as an “attempt again to introduce Christianity into Christendom. 27. the development of free and passionate individuals. 1985). In the second. Bloch adduces this very episode as an example of rebounding violence. The pseudonymous author Anti-Climacus represents the transition to this latter period. passionate individuals. and his earliest to focus on religious existence. Bloch points out that Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac amounts to Abraham’s submission to the transcendental which conquers Abraham’s 17 “vitality at its most intense and forward-looking. the pseudonymous author of Fear and Trembling. True Christianity presupposes the utmost subjective development. BAGGER 333 mere semblance of true Christian faith as full Christian commitment and thereby obscures the passionate individuality of a truly Christian life lived at the extremity of existence. published in 1843. God demands that Abraham bind and sacrifice Isaac. therefore. In the earlier part of his career.16 First. It demands passionate exertions that isolate one as “the single individual. London: Penguin Books. In Genesis. Prey into Hunter.MATTHEW C. militates against true Christian faith.” To examine this change of attitude in light of Bloch’s theory of rebounding violence reveals the connection between this change and other changes in Kierkegaard’s conception of the religious life. and regards this episode as the paradigm of religious faith. Second. Alastair Hannay. reflects on Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac. Kierkegaard’s attitude toward Christendom hardened over time. moreover. Despite the overall continuity in this critique of Christendom. Kierkegaard argues. . The outcome of the story. Kierkegaard saw his task essentially as one of renewal. Abraham’s vitality is vanquished by the transcendental. Kierkegaard’s Fear and Trembling represents an appropriate terminus a quo for this discussion for two reasons.” A second. later stage of his career. but at the last minute God provides a ram as a substitute offering. but the transcendentalized 16 Søren Kierkegaard. God promises Abraham that he will “make your descendants as many as the stars of heaven and the grains of the sea shore. Your descendants shall gain possession of the gates of their enemies” (Gen 22:18). Fear and Trembling is one of Kierkegaard’s earliest works. Abraham consents. Johannes di Silentio. Kierkegaard gave up on renewal. The scaling down of true Christianity in Christendom. which culminates in Kierkegaard’s notorious “attacks upon Christendom. 17 Bloch.” Training in Christianity produces free. He declared Christendom an abomination. In recognition of Abraham’s obedience.

Viewing Fear and Trembling in light of Kierkegaard’s other works in the first pseudonymous authorship. especially Concluding Unscientific Postscript. Fear and Trembling is undoubtedly one of Kierkegaard’s most beautiful and memorable works. Humans begin in a state of immediacy. but Kierkegaard never sanctions unethical behavior. relative ends. In Fear and Trembling and elsewhere Kierkegaard sketches a form of freedom not subject to any law and a form of selfhood higher than Kantian personality. Faith. An unconditional submission to God is the precondition for ethics. moreover. ethics requires the repudiation of any religious ideas that compromise the imperative that one reform oneself by one’s own exertions. which conditions one’s relationship to God. provides guidance for grasping just what this inversion entails. is a passionate individuality that cannot take comfort in the universal. nor does he ever repudiate a roughly Kantian account of the ethical. The major works of Kierkegaard’s first pseudonymous authorship all emphasize the qualitative difference that the existential choice of ethical commitment makes in the life of an individual.” Kant also claims that ethics is the highest unconditioned end. In Religion within the Bounds of Mere Reason Kant argues that a human is most fully a person when he or she subordinates his or her sensuous inclinations to the moral law. or that Kierkegaard intends to supplant Kantian ethics with a divine command ethic. which conditions ethics. To exercise one’s freedom to make respect for this universal. That higher form of selfhood. a law which is dictated by pure reason and which is therefore universal and eternal. a life immersed in and dedicated to finite. faith. inverts the Kantian account: One’s relationship to God is the highest unconditioned end. eternal law a sufficient incentive to determine one’s will is to fulfill the human predisposition to “personality. In particular. Kierkegaard sees something perverse in the Kantian claim that the highest exercise of freedom and the most developed form of personhood consist in acting from impersonal. can lend the impression either that Kierkegaard implicitly justifies moral enormities in the name of faith. Perversely. but ethics as the highest unconditioned end serves as a check on superstition and enthusiasm in religion. and a Kantian ethical religion on the other.334 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW Abraham conquers external vitality. It is true that Kierkegaard takes aim at Kant’s account of the relationship between ethics and religion. leading to a permanent sociopolitical institution and the legitimation of violence against other groups. He or she will only act in conformity with what the absolute ethical requirement demands to the . and the contrast Kierkegaard draws between Abraham’s obedience to God’s horrific command on the one hand. the immediate person is absolutely related to relative ends and relatively related to the absolute. Like the romantics. The idea of God arises ineluctably out of the ethical life. Kierkegaard’s moving reflections on Abraham. universal norms. but in some respects is also one of his least successful because it invites serious misinterpretations.

but ethical life nevertheless reflects primarily on oneself and one’s activity. is to enact the eternal absolute in one’s temporal existence. “In fables and fairy tales there is a lamp called the wonderful lamp. raise the possibility of a form of selfhood even more developed than that of participation in the universal. Kierkegaard maintains.: Princeton University Press) 1:294. The religious forms of selfhood presuppose the ethical choice to be oneself and arise out of ethical striving. Ethics requires that one strive to reverse the perverse priorities of immediacy. Hegel. It is only by mediating one’s relationship to the finite with the universal (and in so doing. Howard and Edna Hong. When a 20 person rubs it with ethical passion. and lays the foundation for the religious. BAGGER 335 extent that so doing accords with his or her interests and inclinations. 1:138. interposes what he calls “religiousness A” between ethical life and “religiousness B” or faith. of course. and religious existence. Kant’s ethical thought both informs Kierkegaard’s account of the ethical. In this way the life of immediacy subjects one to one’s own transitory impulses and sensuous 18 inclinations.MATTHEW C. and who stands in a renewed immediacy to the finite. relativizing the finite to the absolute) that one achieves selfhood persisting through time. Princeton. temporal inclinations. 2 vols. Jest! But Freedom. N.J. Most of Kierkegaard’s works from this period. In ethical life one relates to God through the self’s ethical resolution. One must relate oneself absolutely to the absolute ethical requirement and relate relatively to the relative. that is the wonderful lamp. The task facing an existing being. ethical life. . In acceding unconditionally to the absolute ethical demand. when it is rubbed. there is nevertheless one 19 either/or. Concluding Unscientific Postscript to Philosophical Fragments (trans. its pseudonymous author. supercedes it. moreover. God comes into existence for him. Johannes Climacus. sublates the duty/inclination dualism. Climacus insists that despite the distinctions between immediacy. religious forms of selfhood. one takes an active stance with regard to oneself and one takes responsibility for oneself. the ethical and religious are essentially related for Kierkegaard. the spirit appears. ethical life requires that one 18 Kierkegaard takes for granted the opposition that Kant champions between eternal. Kierkegaard believes that Hegelian ethics fails to take the ethical challenge of existing seriously enough. Kierkegaard claims. Despite this variation in the distinctions between ethical life and higher. In other words. In Kantian fashion the idea of God arises in picturing ethical obligation to oneself. Concluding Unscientific Postscript elaborates the distinctions. In faith one becomes an individual self whose selfhood does not simply participate in the universal.. which. 19 Søren Kierkegaard.. absolute duty and finite. 20 Ibid. It is characterized by active struggle and self-assertion. Fear and Trembling distinguishes between ethical life and faith.” The self’s ethical striving promotes a religious consciousness. As Climacus puts it. one choice. One only becomes an individual self by dedicating oneself to the universal. which devolves upon all alike. Ethical life demands that one resign one’s finite hopes and loves so that one is capable of renouncing them should they conflict with the absolute ethical requirement.

” because one is unable to transform oneself. reflects on God and one’s passivity before God’s activity... 22 Concluding Unscientific Postscript. One comes to recognize one’s alienation from the ethical. Ethical life introduces an initial dialectical qualification to existence.” The suffering present in ethical life is redoubled and becomes definitive of religious life. therefore. Developed ethical existence begets consciousness of ethical failure. 461. Climacus articulates this standpoint by asserting that “an eternal happiness is specifically rooted in the subjective individual’s diminishing 22 self-esteem acquired through the utmost exertion. For the religious individual self-transformation becomes at best “a feigning of 24 self-transformation. as “self-annhihilation. The more ethical one becomes. The pain of dying to immediacy is compounded by the chastening of one’s confident self-sufficiency. consists in an intensification of ethical pathos. Whereas the ethical standpoint glorifies selfassertion. Kierkegaard’s Fragments and Postscript: The Religious Philosophy of Johannes Climacus (Atlantic Highlands. One’s relation to oneself is mediated 21 See C. which emerges from the intensification of ethical pathos. for Kierkegaard. the religious individual can only relate to self-transformation negatively. as distinguished from ethical existence. The most ethical individual is not the individual cavalierly satisfied with himself. the more one perceives one’s inability to fulfill the ethical requirement.” In passionate ethical striving one learns of one’s ethical impotence and abases oneself before God. Religious existence. The more ethical one becomes. If ethical life reflects on oneself and one’s own activity before God. It dawns as ethical striving dialectically turns into its opposite. 24 Ibid. 1983) 43.” This resignation involves painful suffering. but one can take consolation in the universal transparency of the absolute ethical requirement.: Humanities Press International.336 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW “die to immediacy. religious life represents yet another stage in the dialectic of subjective inward deepening.” Climacus characterizes the “essential 23 form” of religious life. One comes to recognize one’s need for a personal God-relationship if one is to have any hope of transforming oneself. but rather 21 is the individual with the most misgivings about his motivations and disposition. 433. The religious individual seeks to express existentially that “he is capable of doing nothing himself but is nothing before God. . 55. the less one believes oneself to have fulfilled the absolute ethical requirement. One’s impotence with respect to the absolute ethical requirement leads one to acknowledge properly the absoluteness of God and one’s nothingness by comparison.J. of coming to recognize that one must passively suffer God’s activity. It replaces an immediate existence with a dialectical existence because one’s relationship to one’s immediate impulses and inclinations is mediated by the universal law. N. religious life. As Climacus describes it. For this reason religious life is suffering in both senses of the term: One endures the painful process of coming to recognize the failure of an active relation to oneself. Stephen Evans. 23 Ibid.

” held “captive.MATTHEW C. in religious life one relates to the self’s ethical resolution through one’s God-relationship... Climacus labels the simultaneous absolute 27 relation to the absolute and relative relation to the relative a “double movement.” Second. using the humorous as an incognito (Ibid. The religious person is “consumed. 500. 463. 409. As a finite being. but must also relate relatively to the relative.. 28 Ibid. 29 Climacus takes issue with the unqualified hidden inwardness that Silentio describes and claims that the religious person cannot completely succeed in hiding his or her inwardness.” The double movement rightly relates one to the finite. Climacus argues that “the self-tormentor by no means expresses that he is capable of nothing before God. The annihilated individual comes existentially to realize the converse corollary to the annihilating recognition that one is capable of nothing without God: With God everything is possible. which he argues failed to achieve an absolute relation to the absolute because it tried to express this relation outwardly. because he indeed considers 30 self-torment to be indeed something. he must not only relate absolutely to the absolute. 500–1).” This is not a simple immediacy. BAGGER 337 by one’s God-relationship. but nevertheless will not express the absolute relation directly. 483. They indicate that one believes one is capable of something. outwardly recognizable expressions 25 Ibid. that one is not annihilated. The annihilated individual—consumed. Outwardly recognizable 29 expressions of the absolute relation indicate. for instance. but a relationship to the relative made possible by the absolute God-relationship. 27 Ibid. 486. however. Climacus does contrast hidden inwardness to medieval monasticism.” Although this religious suffering never ceases (unless one reverts to a lower form of existence). With respect to physical mortifications... Ibid. 30 Ibid.” Despite this categorical claim. 483–85.. captivated by the absolute conception of God—can only with pain join that conception together with the thought of engaging in some relative endeavor. For this reason Climacus describes the advanced forms of religious existence as a hidden inwardness. one’s relation to the finite is now predicated on God. 26 . The combination of this absolute conception of God “with an incidental finitude such as going out to the amusement park” is “the very basis and meaning 26 of [religious] suffering. first. the annihilated individual draws comfort from his God-relationship and learns to relate to the relative on the basis of this relationship. Having resigned the finite. Climacus insists that the individual who has 28 made the double movement is indistinguishable from “all other human beings. Climacus employs various metaphors to describe the annihilated individual. that with God everything is possible. Having made the double movement one enjoys a “new immediacy.” and made “ill” by the absolute 25 conception of God. To all external appearances the new immediacy is indiscernible from an initial immediacy. If in ethical life one relates to God through the self’s ethical resolution.

Kierkegaard allows that Abraham has in general fulfilled the infinite ethical requirement and portrays God’s command to sacrifice Isaac as conflicting with this 33 ethical requirement. individual ethics is conditional upon one’s relationship to God. but he still does not play as a child. 413. Kierkegaard uses the Abraham story to highlight the contrast between Kantian ethical religion on the one hand. absolute. . The person who understands it as his task to practice the absolute 32 distinction relates himself to the finite in the same way. God commands a “righteous” man to murder his son. Ibid. 410.” Like the adult who “joins in children’s play with total interest. but he does not define his difference from worldliness by foreign 31 dress (this is a contradiction. and so hasn’t come to realize that with God everything is possible. One’s God-relationship instead enables one to participate fully in the life of finitude (because with God everything is possible). is hidden. For Abraham the ethical requirement is a temptation. Climacus makes an analogy: “An adult may very well join in children’s play with total interest. Kierkegaard. the individual absolutely related to the absolute “is a stranger in the world of finitude.338 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW of the absolute relation indicate that one is not in fact absolutely related to the absolute. The religious basis for this immediacy. however.” The attempt to express the absolute relation through the relative differences of finitude reveals that the relation is not. in fact.. Both in evincing that one is not annihilated. may be the one who really makes the game lively. Despite cutting one’s roots in the finite. one is not absolutely related to the absolute. and in revealing that one’s relation to the absolute is not in fact absolute. 124. the achieved absolute relation does not alienate one from the finite. and religious existence grounded in an absolute relation to God on the other. Additionally. conversely. 31 32 33 Ibid. By contrast. attempts to express the absolute relation outwardly indicate that one has not pursued ethical life to its limits. To find a time and place in one’s life for the absolute relation—even something so consuming as entering a monastery— relativizes the relation to one’s other ends and in relation to other possible ends. reveals that one hasn’t come to realize that one is capable of nothing before God. Fear and Trembling.” the individual absolutely related to God lives harmoniously in finitude and savors his finite hopes and joys. To lack hidden inwardness and betray an incongruity with finitude. These relationships between ethical life and religious life that Kierkegaard describes in the later works of his first pseudonymous authorship clarify his project in Fear and Trembling. it reveals that despite one’s efforts. One has not fully resigned the finite. a temptation to neglect his God-relationship. This depiction vividly renders Kierkegaard’s point: For the faithful. Abraham’s ethical duty to his son is (in Kierkegaard’s famous phrase) teleologically suspended in relation to a higher duty to God. God inflicts a spiritual trial on Abraham. since with that he defines himself in a worldly way). To make the contrast stark..

or even that duties to God can collide with ethical duty. nor does he intend to supplant Kantian metaethics with divine command metaethics. BAGGER 339 Kierkegaard’s description of faith as “the teleological suspension of the ethical. 124. “accomplishing the universal” is precisely what the faithful individual comes to realize is conditional on a God-relationship. Abraham was not heterogeneous with the ethical.” For other suspended persons the voice of duty is not the source of temptation. absolute relationship to the absolute (God). One is suspended from the ethical (which nevertheless devolves upon one “with the claim of the infinite”) in the sense that one is “heterogeneous” with the ethical. Fear and Trembling. Ibid. . one is suspended from the ethical.. to mean that faith requires behavior that ethics would censure.e. Kierkegaard does not use the story to suggest that by analogy with Abraham’s situation. If sin-consciousness discloses one’s ethical impotence (and in that sense “suspends” the ethical). This terrible “exemption” from the ethical can only be overcome through a proper 35 God-relationship. however. 267.” But. . which 36 by absolutely accentuating itself transformed the voice of duty into a temptation. but the source of dreadful anxiety.. . In Fear and Trembling Silentio argues similarly that sin raises the individual higher than the ethical standpoint “because it is a contradiction on the part of the universal to want to impose itself on someone who lacks the condition sine qua 37 non [the necessary condition]. He was well able to fulfill it but was prevented from it by something higher. In Concluding Unscientific Postscript Johannes Climacus explains that without an unconditional. the condition of its very possibility). One is in sin and incapable of actualizing the ethical. faith teleologically suspends the ethical in the sense that from a higher standpoint it revokes the ethical standpoint’s insistence on self-sufficiency.” One becomes an exception to the universal. Faith suspends the Kantian ethical imperative to reform oneself by one’s own exertions. Climacus pinpoints the crucial disanalogy that distinguishes Abraham’s case. In Fear and Trembling Kierkegaard does not intend to undermine ethical striving.” should not be interpreted. Concluding Unscientific Postscript. The teleological suspension of the ethical is intended to convey that the faithful individual has come to realize that a proper God-relationship is the very condition for an ethical life (i. for Kierkegaard ethical striving is the precondition for 34 35 36 37 Ibid.. “In temptation . Kierkegaard insists that “any analogy with Abraham will only surface after the individual has become capable 34 of accomplishing the universal. The Abraham story is profoundly misleading in this respect. God makes demands at odds with what ethics requires. 124. Rather.MATTHEW C. 266–67. The spiritual trial is the temptation to recoil from religious suffering and slip back into the universal and the belief in one’s self-sufficiency with respect to the ethical requirement. as Kierkegaard makes clear throughout his corpus.

This second knight of faith. does not enjoy a new immediacy. . 67. He resigned his finite hopes and loves. In dedicating oneself to the universal and eternal. harmonious relationship with finitude. The knight of infinite resignation has not annihilated himself. In his ethical striving the knight of infinite resignation makes the move to the infinite on his own strength and rests in himself. finite hopes and loves when the eternal requires it. Ethical religion requires resignation. one makes the move to infinity and must be ready to renounce the object of one’s immediate. He is alienated from finitude. a contemporary Dane. and recognizes that with God everything is possible. Hence. and is not hidden. His “gliding. Having made the move of resignation. In addition to Abraham. and in turn a proper God-relationship is the precondition for ethical transformation. higher forms of religious existence maintain the ethical emphasis—though the Abraham story unfortunately obscures this aspect of religious existence—while restoring one to an immediate. Abraham made the double movement and to the external observer his behavior is indistinguishable from someone who has not even made the movement to the ethical (in this peculiar case a madman or a murderer). If the ethical life alienates one from finitude. Silentio’s description also nicely highlights the lineaments of Kierkegaard’s views in this period about religious existence.. With this recognition the knight of faith makes the double movement. Because of this absurd faith. Abraham resigned himself with respect to Isaac. when he did receive Isaac back.” Having resigned finitude. however. furthermore. confounds any interpretation of Fear and Trembling that suggests that faith requires a collision with accepted ethical standards. Silentio describes one other knight of faith. realizes he is capable of nothing. Kierkegaard also exploits the Abraham story to introduce an invidious contrast between the existential stance of ethical religion and the existential stance of faith. the knight of infinite resignation moves in finitude awkwardly. enjoys a new immediacy. The knight of faith has annihilated himself. He took up with Isaac as if nothing had happened.340 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW a proper God-relationship. but a relationship properly grounded in God. bold” gait reflects his confidence in his ethical self38 sufficiency and his self-possession. Abraham displayed no discomfort or awkwardness. has not realized he is capable of nothing. recognized that with God everything is possible and absurdly had faith that he would receive Isaac back. and so he does not realize that with God everything possible. moreover. He does not make the double movement. For these reasons I will quote liberally from the passage: 38 Ibid. Abraham nevertheless remained completely at ease in the finite. Kierkegaard labels the faithful individual the knight of faith. having renounced the finite. and is hidden. Kierkegaard presents Abraham as the exemplar of faith. He describes the former in the person of the knight of infinite resignation. In consenting to sacrifice Isaac. his bearing is “readily recognizable. Abraham.

. He drains in infinite resignation the deep sorrow of existence. anxious training. takes part.” while my admirable knight thinks: “Yes. for his appetite is greater than Esau’s. . . . He smokes a pipe in the evening: to see him you would swear it was the cheesemonger opposite vegetating in the dusk. in everything. . 68–70. . [H]is hearty. . . . The stranger leaves him thinking: “That must have been a capitalist.MATTHEW C. . Towards evening he goes home. . On the road he passes a building-site and meets another man. While the ethical life leaves 39 Ibid. the new omnibuses. . One detects nothing of the strangeness and superiority that mark the knight of the infinite. having all that’s needed for that. . Carefree as a devil-may-caregood-for-nothing. . . and not for 39 a second would one suspect anything else. he belongs altogether to the world. . He takes a holiday on Sundays. and yet he purchases every moment that he lives. so attentive to detail is he. it belongs altogether to finitude. . He minds his affairs. he has felt the pain of renouncing everything. “redeeming the seasonable time” at the dearest price. On the way it occurs to him that his wife will surely have some special little warm dish for his return. and still he has this sense of being secure to take pleasure in it. and whenever one catches him occupied with something his engagement has the persistence of the worldly person whose soul is wrapped up in such things. .” He takes his ease at an open window and looks down on the square where he lives. His stance? Vigorous. He resigned everything infinitely. he would continue as far as Osterport so as to converse with him about this dish with a passion befitting a restaurateur. no petit bourgeois belongs to it more. he hasn’t a worry in the world. This extraordinary passage illustrates in lyrical prose and homey detail that the religious individual is completely at ease in finitude. . In the afternoon he takes a walk in the woods. he has a building raised in a jiffy. if it came to that I could surely manage it. . for example roast head of lamb with vegetables. If he were to meet a kindred spirit. lusty psalm-singing proves that he has a good set of lungs. as though it were the most certain thing of all. He is continually making the movement of infinity. whatever is most precious in the world. such is his way of taking pleasure. . at everything that goes on—a rat slipping under a board over the gutter. and then took everything back. the children at play—with the composure befitting a sixteen-year-old girl. no smartly turned-out townsman taking a stroll out to Fresberg on a Sunday afternoon treads the ground with surer foot. . . . he knows the bliss of infinity. . . . This man takes pleasure. . the Sound—to run across him on Strandveien you would think he was a shopkeeper having his fling. and yet to him finitude tastes just as good as to one who has never known anything higher. his step tireless as a postman’s. He goes to church. for his remaining in the finite bore no trace of a stunted. BAGGER 341 He is solid through and through. He delights in everything he sees. They talk together for a moment. but he makes it with such accuracy and poise that he is continually getting finitude out of it. in the thronging humanity. To see him at them you would think he was some pen-pusher who had lost his soul to Italian book-keeping.. [T]o see him eat it would be a sight for superior people to envy and for plain folk to be inspired by.

enjoying its “taste.” the person “who has never known anything higher” than finitude. He insists that Christianity requires both renunciation of the finite and persecution or martyrdom for one’s commitment. He charges that this ideal of indistinguishability between immediacy and Christian faith encourages self-deception about having made the double movement when in fact one has made neither movement. . people have also wanted to abolish by wanting to shift the Christian life into hidden inwardness. . to be the abased one. Princeton. Practice in Christianity (trans. N. 78. Hidden inwardness eliminates the possibility of the dramatic conflict with the established order. so 42 that concealed there.. His “opposition to existence expresses itself every 40 instant as the most beautiful and safest harmony.342 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW one at odds with finitude. 41 . It safeguards one against the danger of persecution. These two sources of suffering constitute a “double danger” afflicting the Christian.: Princeton University Press. any sort of dramatic external conflict with the established social. every mockery and insult. “if it came to that. 43 Ibid. the faithful individual lives in harmony with finitude. 1991) 213..” Whereas for Climacus and Silentio religious suffering is an entirely inward matter arising out of one’s relationship to oneself and to God. Anti-Climacus. This knight of faith participates in the life of his church and could be a capitalist.” His existence is indistinguishable from the individual who never left the first immediacy. the pseudonymous author of Practice in Christianity (1848) disparages the idea of hidden inwardness.. it would not be discernible in life. to human eyes. Anti-Climacus replaces the pleasure of the new immediacy with the suffering of martyrdom. On the basis of his God-relationship. “The next danger. furthermore.” ■ Kierkegaard and the Double Danger In the second period of his authorship. Søren Kierkegaard. 42 Ibid. religious life involves a double movement that brings a new immediacy. and finally to be punished as a criminal!” The 40 Ibid. ecclesiastical and political order. according to Christianity’s requirement. 253. He resembles the “wordly person. 106.” Kierkegaard emphasizes the “pleasure” of this new immediacy (despite the inward suffering definitive of the religious life) and portrays the knight of faith as a consumer of finitude. Anti-Climacus supplements this purely inward suffering with suffering that stems from one’s outward relationship to the established order. Kierkegaard paints a very different picture of developed religious existence. Howard and Edna Hong. in the world. [I]t is to mean suffering every possible 43 evil.J. His hidden inwardness prevents. which appears through denying oneself and renouncing the things of this world in earnest. . “There stands Christianity with its requirements for self-denial: Deny yourself—and then suffer 41 because you deny yourself.” Christian commitment cannot remain hidden because “truly to be a Christian is to mean.

this is the only way to do it: by poetically (therefore by a pseudonym) passing judgment on it. My earlier thought was: if the established order can be defended. If the individual will but concede the pertinence of the Christian ideal and honestly admit to God his failure with respect to that ideal.MATTHEW C. Anti-Climacus tempers his severe account of Christian commitment by allowing for an accommodation achieved through a humble confession of inadequacy. In his autobiographical On My Work as an Author. the individual can enjoy the delights of finitude. In a later essay composed to coincide with the publication of Practice in Christianity’s second edition (1855).” In this context the “established order” means Christendom for Kierkegaard. but by grace a kind of indulgence from the actual imitation of Christ and the actual strenuousness of being Christian. Here he acknowledges a less demanding. to everyone. “And what does all this mean?” It means that each individual in quiet inwardness before God is to humble himself under what it means in the strictest sense to be a Christian. Then. then. And then nothing further. humbly submit to God. by then drawing on grace in the second power. relationship to Christianity. amounts to a “test” of one’s commitment to the absolute. let him do his work and rejoice in it. concurs on the importance of the ideal Christian requirement. and only then. Anti-Climacus’s view of the Christian’s bearing in finitude more resembles the “stunted anxious training” that Silentio contrasts to the new immediacy than it does the bearing of the knight of faith. Kierkegaard elaborates on his original intentions. a basis for an 45 established order. Anti-Climacus only relents from this uncompromisingly dour picture of Christianity in a section entitled “The Moral” which appears at the end of the first part of Practice in Christianity. 67. can the individual rightly enjoy the fruits of finitude. as for the rest. Anti-Climacus claims. 18. The willingness to sacrifice one’s whole life expresses one’s dedication to the absolute. he can worthily accept God’s grace. signed by Kierkegaard. Christianity would become not only finding forgiveness for the past by grace. confession. A preface preceding each of the three sections of Practice in Christianity. joyfully 44 bring up his children. Although the emphases of Practice in Christianity are very different from those of Fear and Trembling. love his fellow beings. Point of View. ideally. The individual must abandon prideful self-sufficiency. Kierkegaard asserts that he intended Practice in Christianity “as an attempt to find. in this passage one finds a distinct echo of the new immediacy. Having humbled himself before God. love his wife and rejoice in her. . is to confess honestly before God where he is so that he still might worthily accept the grace that is offered to every imperfect person—that is. BAGGER 343 whole of a human life on earth. In this way truth still manages to come into the established 44 45 Ibid. and passively defer to God’s action (grace).. but nevertheless legitimate. rejoice in life. and grace.

he decided to revoke the more lenient version of Christianity. and declare the official Christianity to be the true Christianity. he foreclosed the possibility of legitimacy for the established order.” “Practice in Christianity is. and to me it became clear 47 that he was powerless. and trans. it defends itself by judging itself. he enlisted it in what by now had become an unrestrained war with Christendom. If there was power in him [“the old bishop”]. He did neither of the two. he announced that if he were at that time publishing it for the first time. 46 Søren Kierkegaard. would make the admission on behalf of Christendom. By 1854 Kierkegaard began publicly derogating the now deceased bishop’s character as weak and worldly. 47 Ibid. and that in this way one does not have the right to draw on grace. he urged a boycott of the established church and worked for its dissolution. he would have to do one of two things: either decisively declare himself for the book. In my opinion this was the only 46 way Christianly to defend the established order.. 70. Howard and Edna Hong. Likewise. . By removing the prefaces and “The Moral. however. stamp it as a blasphemous and profane attempt. venture to go along with it.344 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW order.” or as decisively as possible throw himself against it. 48 an attack upon the established order. he did nothing. Ultimately. . 69–70. .” Reconceiving Practice in Christianity. or challenging Kierkegaard’s conception of the ideal Christian requirement.: Princeton University Press. the charge against the whole official Christianity that it is an optical illusion “not worth a pickled herring. Christianly. N. In the same way that an individual can humbly confess his or her inadequacy with respect to the ideal Christian requirement. the established order could acquire legitimacy through God’s grace. In Kierkegaard’s eyes Mynster proved incapable of either making the humble admission and legitimating the established order through God’s grace. “Now. . he only wounded himself on the book. By honestly facing up to its hypocrisy and self-deception concerning Christianity. At this late moment in Kierkegaard’s life. 1998) 69.” Having removed the prefaces and “The Moral. Although he republished Practice in Christianity in the same form as the first edition. he would publish it under his own name and without the mitigating “The Moral” and prefaces. Mynster disappointed Kierkegaard. The Moment and Late Writings (ed. let it be the defense that wards off what the book poetically contains. 48 Ibid. I have completely made up my mind on two things: both that the established order is Christianly indefensible. When Kierkegaard published the second edition of Practice in Christianity in 1855. that every day it lasts it is Christianly a crime. Primate of Denmark..J.” moreover. Princeton. Kierkegaard hoped Bishop Mynster.

.” The established order requires a legitimating “corrective. because it has forsaken “the unconditional” in favor of “secular sagacity. . With regard to an ‘established order. ■ Kierkegaard. to be a teacher in obedience to God. especially in the ecclesiastical sphere. While it is no doubt true that the change in Kierkegaard’s attitude with respect to Christendom would naturally lead one to expect that he would come to believe that the religious individual could not live harmoniously in the established order. It is more or less forgotten that all governing. 18. BAGGER 345 all traces of the new immediacy disappear from Kierkegaard’s conception of 49 Christianity. the very basis for the established order. Kierkegaard attempted renewal of the established order. . to his mind.’ I have consistently. 50 Point of View. is more or less forgotten. is from God. Kierkegaard again takes going to the amusement park as his example. . Christianity becomes unremitting heterogeneity with finitude. that fearing God 50 they might stand firm.” Kierkegaard explains. if the wind turns. a basis for an established order. In the first period of his authorship. and not a matter of summarily identifying with being a public official. . he writes retrospectively in On My Work as an Author that.” In a passage deleted from the final draft. Bloch’s theory creates a frame that marshals the details of Kierkegaard’s views in an illuminating way. and instead governing is done more or less in the fear of people and with secular sagacity. Throughout his authorship Kierkegaard questioned the legitimacy of the established order.always done the very opposite of attacking. but now begins with the assumption that God wills that humans not go to the amusement park. . and Theories of the Body and Society Bloch’s theory clarifies the relationship between Kierkegaard’s attacks on the established order and the eclipse of the new immediacy in his later work.MATTHEW C. Rebounding Violence. 348). or. haggling and bargaining and pretending to be sagacious—this is more or less forgotten. Kierkegaard elaborates: What it means to govern. As late as 1850. reversing Climacus’s primary example of the new immediacy (The Moment and Late Writings. in fear and trembling before the responsibility of eternity. to rule. The discounting of Christianity in Christendom threatened. ideally. This passage continues with his claim I cited previously that Practice in Christianity is “an attempt to find. willing only one thing—the good. which for God’s sake wishes that there might be governing by those who are officially appointed and called. that to govern is to be obedient to God. and perhaps. and therefore we more and more miss out on what is 49 In a late unpublished draft of an article for The Moment. I have never been or been along with the “opposition” that wants to do away with “government” but have always provided what is called a corrective. as such immediately tyrannizing if one sees one’s chance.

he sought to relegitimate existing social and political institutions through the idiom of rebounding violence. Concluding Unscientific Postscript. consists of the eternal and the finite 53 in tension with one another. In the first stage of rebounding violence one willingly surrenders one’s vitality to conquest by the transcendental.” Kierkegaard describes the annihilated self in terms that suggest conquest by the transcendental.346 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW still the greatest blessing for us human beings: a God-fearing government that 51 by fearing God is sufficiently strong and powerful not to fear people. 82. moreover.” The consequence of annihilation. In his own terms. this project requires “self-annihilation.” it makes the individual “ill. something life-transcending. He employs the language of spirit possession: The absolute “consumes” the individual... the failure of Christendom to require even the first violence imperils the legitimacy of the established order. thereby thwarting rebounding violence before it even begins. To govern without relating oneself to that which stands unconditionally firm is like sailing without ballast or sewing without fastening the end of one’s thread. “dichotemised” between a superior transcendental “moral” element and a “chaotic” mundane. Ultimately. Throughout his corpus Kierkegaard figures the process of forging a self in terms appropriate to the first stage of rebounding violence. moreover. . Exemplifying the pattern. in Bloch’s language. the 52 reintroduction of Christianity into Christendom.” or. ersatz Christianity of Christendom obviates submission to the transcendental. The glib. Bloch points out that rebounding violence begins with an inversion of the basic conception of life’s biological processes: Weakening and death leads to successful existence. Kierkegaard sought in this first period to reintroduce Christianity into Christendom. Kierkegaard’s works in this earlier period aim to renovate the foundation of rebounding violence that grounds the established order. In Bloch’s terms. He terms human existence a “prodigious contradiction. A self. The established order loses its grounding in something that transcends “the haggling and bargaining and pretending to be sagacious” of transient mortals. in other words. Kierkegaard’s “corrective” consists in the reminder that each and every individual “must personally relate himself to the unconditional. Ibid. If the mechanism of rebounding violence serves to legitimate the sociopolitical order. temporal element. 20. it holds the individual “captive. is the achievement of a kind of life-transcending permanence: eternal life. 268–69. To achieve genuine selfhood one must die to immediacy and resign oneself to the finite. consists in joining something permanent. Kierkegaard explains. Kierkegaard conceived of persons as. 51 52 53 Ibid. This successful existence.” A self must synthesize these opposed elements by enacting eternal ethical values in temporal existence. It must bring order to transitory impulses and inclinations by subordinating them to the eternal law. Kierkegaard describes successful existence as requiring a voluntary death.

suffering comes to figure more and more prominently in his discussions of Christianity. but. of course. but. Over time the emphasis in Kierkegaard’s writings on the first violence grows at the expense of the rebounding violence. In Concluding Unscientific Postscript.” The knight of faith enacts a form of rebounding violence. This double movement serves as Kierkegaard’s call for a sociopolitical order grounded in eternal authority. Conversely. the consumption of animals and the taking of women in marriage can also figure the second. more precisely perhaps (because unlike Abraham he is not especially violent). Kierkegaard exploits the idiom of rebounding violence in his campaign to relegitimize the established order. and actuality of violent conquest. This description applies remarkably well to Silentio’s description of the contemporary knight of faith. With respect to existence in finitude. 5. The transcendentalized must appropriate new vitality. as Kierkegaard relegates it to a few marginal mentions. BAGGER 347 Bloch argues. 6. As his frustration with the established order intensifies. Ibid.” is most essential to convey the appropriation of new 54 vitality. Elsewhere (and in his own life) Kierkegaard associates 56 marriage with faith. or. only a faint echo of the new immediacy appears in the first edition of Practice in Christianity.MATTHEW C. Bloch generally emphasizes the language. In the first violence the absolute conquers an individual. symbolism. Kierkegaard emphasizes the extraordinary demands Christianity makes on the individual. Prey into Hunter. In this first period of his authorship.. 54 Bloch. crucially. 56 Kierkegaard famously writes in his journal that if he had truly had faith he could have married his beloved Regina. he insists that suffering is definitive of religious existence. In the new immediacy the conquered individual dominates finitude. he enacts a rebounding consumption. In fact. His stance is “vigorous” and his existence in finitude displays no awkwardness. The knight of faith has annihilated himself and has been “consumed” by the absolute. “a changed person. in Bloch’s words.” He takes “pleasure” in existence and with hearty appetite relishes his roast head of lamb. His emphasis on suffering and the extraordinary demands of Christianity become even more extreme in the first edition of Practice in Christianity. rebounding movement. which transcends temporal relativities. 55 . The transcendentalized person feeds on vitality. “often literally through the mouth. as he makes clear. this knight of faith is. a permanently transcendental person who 55 can therefore dominate the here and now. that a second stage of rebounding violence is necessary if the first violence is to have any significance for legitimating sociopolitical life. The new immediacy that Kierkegaard describes in this period serves as an instance of rebounding violence. however. does not revert to his or her erstwhile chaotic condition. the symbolism of incorporation. Because Christendom doesn’t require true submission to God. He consumes finitude and savors its “taste. He or she masters the temporal.

In this later period Kierkegaard’s thought structurally resembles millenarianism as Bloch analyzes it. which he felt abandoned the transcendental righteousness in the service of which he wrote.348 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW Kierkegaard’s journals reveal that the tumultuous events of 1848 mark a decisive turning point in his attitude toward Christendom. xv–xvi). Mynster’s accommodating cultural 59 Christianity “distilled Christianity out of the country. . Mynster. Kierkegaard viewed the bishop’s official conduct as craven and pandering. 396. was “a false 57 In all likelihood this allusion refers to the Corsair affair in 1846. . a Christian state. the new immediacy represents a form of rebounding violence that invests the established order with transcendent authority. the transition took years to complete. Kierkegaard himself recognized how this episode contributed to the eclipse of the new immediacy in his later thought. If 1848 represents the turning point in Kierkegaard’s thought. 58 The Moment and Late Writings. hid themselves like cowards while barbarism boldly and brazenly raged. he concluded. “If I had not taken this action [against the Corsair]. As Kierkegaard saw it. Only after Mynster’s death in 1854 did Kierkegaard begin his unrestrained attacks upon Christendom. official 58 appointments. not only did the political leaders in 1848 fear people and not God. . I saw how the ones who were supposed to rule.. 59 Ibid. But if what one sees all over Europe is Christendom. Bishop Mynster continually failed to ground the church in the unconditional. In the first period of Kierkegaard’s authorship. I would have escaped completely the double-danger connected with the essentially Christian. the new immediacy drops out of Kierkegaard’s thought altogether. Kierkegaard became disillusioned with the political and religious leadership. I would have gone on thinking of the difficulties involved with Christianity as being purely interior to the self” (The Moment and Late Writings. Then I was horrified to see what was understood by a Christian state (this I saw especially in 1848). As Kierkegaard came to want to withhold transcendent authority from an established order he now viewed as unredeemable. . livelihood—bursts open. and I experienced how a truly unselfish and God-fearing endeavor (and my endeavor as an author was that) is rewarded in the 57 Christian state. both in Church and state. Kierkegaard continued (in the equivocal guise of a defense of the established order) to solicit Bishop Mynster’s humble confession of the established church’s failure to live up to the requirements of ideality. 402. Despite this resolution to explode the ecclesiastical established order. In Kierkegaard’s eyes. as he came to want to destroy rather than relegitimize the established order.” Despite personal affection for him and respect for him as his father’s pastor. in which Kierkegaard provoked a Danish periodical to satirize him repeatedly. then I propose to start here in Denmark to list the price for being a Christian in such a way that the whole concept—state Church. The comportment of the authorities throughout Europe during these upheavals and the ridicule Kierkegaard personally endured for his authorship convinced Kierkegaard he could no longer work to renew the established order. Like a millenarian.

for the transcendentalized to refuse vitality and the domination of finitude represents a protest against social and political institutions. Bruce Kirmmse. perpetuates the image. 8. By eliminating the new immediacy and portraying true Christianity as heterogeneity with finitude.” whose “proclamation of Christianity and Church leadership 60 . 1989) xiv.MATTHEW C. 14. and the final vestiges of rebounding violence disappear from Kierkegaard’s thought.” At this point when Kierkegaard had come to see Christendom as Christianly a crime. whom he views as an apostle of private inwardness and self-perfection. with thinkers like Mill or Rawls. a subversive denial of their legitimacy. Richard Rorty. it becomes flight to the transcendental with no intended reimmersion in the rhythms of the world. By contrast Richard Rorty’s repeated offhand juxtaposition of Kierkegaard. so to speak—is not incidental. In this last period Kierkegaard exploited the idiom of rebounding violence to divest the “horizontal element” of its “vertical” guarantor.” and personal signifi61 cance.62 While Kierkegaard did.. Kierkegaard works to subvert the established order. Irony. Kirmmse’s Kierkegaard in Golden Age Denmark has done much to dispel the received image of Kierkegaard as an apolitical thinker. The theory of rebounding violence helps to reveal the extent to which and the mechanisms by which Kierkegaard’s call for personal 60 Ibid. Christianity becomes essentially otherworldly. were high treason against Christianity. 61 . he consistently viewed these pursuits as foundational for public affairs. he refuses to sanction even the most attenuated echo of the new immediacy. 1990) 3. of course. Kierkegaard. 62 See for example. BAGGER 349 bill of exchange. . At the end of his life. Kierkegaard in Golden Age Denmark (Bloomington. and Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.” which was the time-honored and comfortable marriage of the horizontal element of traditional society and the “vertical” element of religious transcendence. He seeks to sever the perceived bonds between transcendental authority and the existing social and political structures.: Indiana University Press. The eclipse of the new immediacy in Kierkegaard’s later thought represents a constituent part of his attack on the established order. . in Bruce Kirmmse’s words: called for nothing less than the total dismantling of the traditional aristocratic-conservative synthesis known as “Christendom” or “Christian culture. “moral values. Ind. promote inwardness and self-perfection. Applying Bloch’s thesis to Kierkegaard’s corpus highlights how the eclipse of the new immediacy in Kierkegaard’s later writings—the double danger coming to replace the double movement. who advance public projects. Contingency. According to the logic of rebounding violence. a synthesis in which religion had served as the guarantor of social stability. but integral to the evolution of Kierkegaard’s sociopolitical polemic.

terribly convincing. Bloch positions his theory as an alternative to those of Girard and Burkert. and that only a people’s perception of their tactical weakness vis-à-vis their neighbors prevents the development of the symbolism in a way that legitimates militarism. He argues only that the rebounding moment “needs to be violent. Bloch’s protestations notwithstanding. and consumption alternatively throughout Prey into Hunter.” We must forestall the despairing conclusion that violence is inescapable. like those of Kierkegaard. challenges Bloch’s rendering of his own theory. is the crucial notion at work. If the application of Bloch’s theory to Kierkegaard’s corpus highlights significant but easily overlooked themes in Kierkegaard’s thought. Attending to the bourgeois knight of faith removes the ambiguity in Bloch’s account and attests that the theory’s central motif is the consumption of vitality. but is not in any obvious or direct way violent. Kierkegaard’s bourgeois knight of faith is a consumer of finitude. Bloch believes that violence against external vitality is inherent to the process. it’s not clear from Bloch’s own presentation that violence. not violence. not primarily or in the first instance as a theory of rebounding violence. it becomes clear that the theory is best conceived. Ibid. 6. Prey into Hunter.. Bloch’s emphasis on the universal awareness of the biological “transformative dialectic” affirms that the operative concepts are vitality and 63 64 Bloch. Despite Bloch’s characterization of his theory as a theory of religion and violence. He believes that violence is intrinsic to the process he has identified. conversely. Because Bloch believes the potential for militarism is intrinsic to the process by which humans legitimize their social and political orders.” On the strength of this dubious claim. he ends Prey into Hunter on a distinctively troubled. otherwise the 63 subordination of vitality would not be demonstrated. . rebounding moment. however. note. By identifying some of the less obvious relationships between religious and political authority. a solution that does not intrinsically offer “a toe-hold 64 to the legitimation of domination and violence. nor is it. Bloch’s theory demonstrates its usefulness in the study of modern texts. both of whom develop theories of religion and violence. rather than consumption. on the face of it.350 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW edification underwrote a public project. The reason he provides to explain why violence is necessary to the rebounding moment is not. albeit hopeful. as a theory of rebounding consumption. Bloch hopes we can critique ourselves and devise an alternative solution to the human politico-social predicament. it also. something on which he elaborates. Bloch uses the idioms of violence. especially to the second. conquest. Bloch’s choice of the appellation “rebounding violence” is not adventitious. and therefore that the potential for military aggression is implicit in the ritual symbolism. 105. By applying Bloch’s theory to Kierkegaard’s thought. relationships present in theology as well as in ritual.

To recognize that consumption. the emphasis on consumption as vivification in Bloch’s theory cleaves closely to the root idea of the incorporation of food. 66 . Veblen ultimately traces bourgeois consumption to the “predatory habit of life. Not unlike Bloch. Even sacrifice. violence can become a secondary association of the process..” The biological connection. is the key to Bloch’s theory. Veblen’s is an economic notion of consumption far removed from its root metaphor of incorporation. Rebounding consumption does not intrinsically offer a toe-hold to the legitimation of domination and violence. Human cognizance of the pattern of growth and death. which might seem inherently concerned with violence. Veblen’s claim. By contrast.e. and so on. Most evocatively. but invoking Veblen’s theory in this context is useful if only because of the significant difference in the conceptions of consumption at work in the two theories. and not violence.” These similarities are admittedly superficial (and so do not necessitate extensive exposition of Veblen’s ideas). Whether rebounding consumption evokes militarism and violence as secondary associations in a given context will depend on how militaristic the culture is.67 Veblen works within the same constellation of concepts as Bloch. Insofar as killing is the frequent or usual concommitant of the consumption of vitality (i. BAGGER 351 consumption.. furthermore. is 65 predicated on the knowledge that “one species provides food for another. Veblen explains “devout observances” in terms of what he calls a predatory habit of mind. The divergence from Veblen’s idea of consumption accents the conception of consumption operative in Bloch’s theory and suggests a frame of reference that relates the theory to a rich vein of anthropological theory. but consumption is primary. Consumption need not necessarily be violent. or that it is best 66 theorized employing violence as a second order explanatory concept. 1994). it need not signify violence. alleviates the melancholy shrouding the text because it disrupts the purported intrinsic relationship between politico-social legitimation and the potential for militarism. 4. whether in that culture there are inferential links between vitality and violence or aggression. To see Bloch’s theory exemplified in Kierkegaard’s bourgeois consumer invites a comparison of Bloch’s theory with Thorstein Veblen’s famous theory of the leisure class. between consumption and vitality makes consumption a more plausible source of quasi-universal meanings than violence.MATTHEW C. bears out this observation. the hunting or slaughter of animals). 67 Thorstein Veblen. moreover. he claims. That sacrifice entails the killing and dismembering of an animal prior to its consumption does not necessarily mean either that sacrifice signifies violence for those participating in it. The 65 Ibid. that success in “exploit” serves as a sign of prepotence bears a casual resemblance to Bloch’s ideas about conquest and vitality. who puts ritual and conquest in a causal relationship. and even when it involves killing. which lies in the eye of the beholder and which carries different meanings in different cultures. The Theory of the Leisure Class (New York: Penguin Classics. Stanley Stowers has argued this point forcefully in personal conversations with me.

including Kierkegaard’s own journals and testimonies from his contemporaries. and strategies of individuals. the indefatigable proponent of “the single individual. beliefs. To apply a theory like the theory of rebounding consumption to the texts of a specific modern figure from a literate culture can help correct these distortions.e. belief in some species of anthropomorphized being superintending human affairs). but its more fundamental contribution lies in its exploration of the ways that an ideology of the body can legitimize institutional arrangements. amply display the self-consciousness with which Kierkegaard deploys an ideology of rebounding consumption in the service of a politico-social polemic. The more literal conception of consumption reveals that Bloch’s theory is best classed with those other theories that posit a relationship between the physical body and the social body. however. The fact that nearly ubiquitous religious conceptions (i. These sources. in conjunction with virtually unavoidable beliefs about human life.” should safeguard the importance of individual agency in social theory. . the theorist has access to a wealth of literary source material. Studies of this latter sort. often bear the legacy of functionalism and have a tendency to overlook the extent to which individuals or factions within a social group strategically deploy an ideology of the body. With this material it is impossible to overlook the particularity of Kierkegaard’s attitudes. Bloch’s theory may prove instructive about violence in some cultural circumstances.352 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW ingestion of comestibles keeps the body alive. These studies sometimes portray the production of such an ideology as a faceless social process operating entirely behind the backs of the individual agents involved. and that purport to show how body work does politico-social work.. produce a “quasi-universal” ideological pattern should not blinker us to the self-conscious deployment of the ideology by individuals and groups. Kierkegaard’s exploitation of the logic of rebounding consumption should remind us that the first recourse in explaining ideology should be the agendas. nor a large-scale politico-social protest movement. moreover. In Kierkegaard’s case the theorist is observing neither a public ritual. both of which evidence his alienation from the environing politicosocial institutions and the idiosyncratic quality of his protest. It is fitting that Kierkegaard. Additionally.

Aquila and Ben Sira in the Jewish and Christian Traditions (Leiden: Brill.. as well as Dr. 2 For bibliography on this subject. dating from the early-third to fifth centuries. New York In the early or mid-second century C. HTR 102:3 (2009) 353–88 . but both Jewish and Christian sources from Late Antiquity offer perspectives on and information about Aquila as well as citations of his translation.E. 1 Greek: ©%OYZPEb. these sources do not represent the full extent of Late Antique Jews and Judaism in * I am grateful as always to Dr. The English usage “Aquila” corresponds to the Latin. see Giuseppe Veltri. My goal in the following pages is to develop a more nuanced understanding of the history of Aquila’s Bible translation in Late Antiquity.Aquila’s Bible Translation in Late Antiquity: Jewish and Christian Perspectives* Jenny R. Kraft. Any mistakes are of course my own. and “Canonic” Texts: The Septuagint. Labendz Jewish Theological Seminary. though of course. and Adam Parker for their help particularly with the patristics and with Greek. a Jewish proselyte named Aquila1 translated the Hebrew Bible into Greek. Edgecomb. I believe that prior scholarship. especially regarding ancient perspectives on Aquila and his translation. Eleanor Dickey. Justin Dumbrowsky. Translations. as well as the popularity of his translation in various communities. I also wish to thank Drs. 42. whose comments on my drafts were extremely helpful. Libraries. Kevin P. Richard Kalmin for his invaluable guidance on this paper. Hebrew: WP]U?. ■ The Rabbinic Sources The only ancient Jewish sources that mention Aquila or use his translation are rabbinic. To fully understand the role his legacy played in Jewish and Christian communities requires careful analysis of each of the sources. Burt Visotzky and Robert A. 2006) 164 n. has drawn conclusions based on overall impressions of texts that may appear quite differently when examined closely and in context.2 The translation survives today only in fragments.

. it is clear to me that Onkelos bears no relation to Aquila. But as Leon Leibrich points out in his review of Aquila and Onkelos (JQR 27 [1937] 287–91). 45). I have also chosen to focus only on classical rabbinic texts. for other later rabbinic sources. most notably a lengthy story in Tanḥuma Mishpatim 5 (Buber edition. Introduction to the Talmud and Midrash (Minneapolis: Fortress. and Eichah Rabbah (redacted circa the fifth century in Palestine). 2001) 571–85. For a discussion of this text.354 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW Palestine or elsewhere. 5 This excludes a number of traditions about Aquila. Since the nature of the sources 3 Alec Eli Silverstone. 164–89. Sefer me’or eynayim (ed. ch. See ibid. Aquila and Onkelos (Manchester: Manchester University Press. 6 See Strack and Stemberger. 170–72. David Cassel.6 There is no mention of Aquila in the Babylonian Talmud (redacted during the sixth century). there is no basis for this claim. see Veltri. As early as 1937.3 scholars have long accepted the notion that Aquila is identical to Onkelos. textual analysis. 1996) for the dating and summary of scholarship about each book.5 This includes the Palestinian Talmud (henceforth. Leviticus Rabbah. and ‘Canonic’ Texts. However. that is. redacted between the late-fourth and early-fifth centuries) and the classical midrashim: Genesis Rabbah. those produced before the sixth century. and assumptions. 1931).. a note on Aquila and Onkelos is in order. already in the sixteenth century. Silverstone’s 1931 study. Owing in large part to A. 194–97. Silverstone was not by any means the first to discuss the relationship between Aquila and Onkelos. Moreover. Mishpatim 3). from the sixth century onwards rabbinic editors begin to rework their sources more thoroughly and more heavy-handedly than they had previously. Introduction. 3. Before proceeding to the texts. as well as Hermann L.: Yale University Press.4 Based on Leibrich’s review and other points that space does not permit me to delineate here. Libraries. 276–90. the Yerushalmi. the Italian scholar Azariah de Rossi set out to clear up this confusion and prove that the two were not the same. 4 See previous note.7 I exclude the later Palestinian texts because I am interested specifically in the centuries closest to the time of Aquila’s life and in the first stages—not the later development—of his appearance in rabbinic literature. Vilna: 1866) 383–93 (-Imre vinah. E. it is worth reevaluating what each has to say on its own terms. Conn. In addition to excluding from my discussion traditions about Onkelos. as well as to blatant inaccuracies in the work. Aquila and Onkelos. Translations. 7 See ibid. While rabbinic texts both before and after the sixth century contain sources that originate in the early rabbinic period. ch. Joanna Weinberg. English translation in The Light of the Eyes: Azariah de’ Rossi (ed. Leon Leibrich published a review of Silverstone’s book that pointed to flaws in his logic. a character mentioned numerous times in the Tosefta and to whom the Aramaic Bible translation is attributed in the Babylonian Talmud. Strack and Günter Stemberger. New Haven. Since these two groups of texts have often been indiscriminately grouped together when discussing Aquila. I shall show that the rabbinic literature gives quite a different picture than the one that emerges from the early Christian writers’ portrayals of the reception of Aquila’s translation among the Jews..

1996) for introduction and critical edition. I cite the text according to MS Vat. While a number of early Christian writers refer to Aquila’s translation as the favorite of the Jews. Ebr. 1951] 158 s. and reports of his translations of specific biblical words or phrases. Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament [Oxford: Clarendon. J. Aquila’s ideology was not at stake for the rabbis.” and that is the sense in which Aquila uses it here.” A Dictionary of the Targumim. although a number of Christian writers related to Aquila’s translation on ideological grounds. Moreover. in rabbinic parlance it almost always means “proselyte. or that the rabbis used it in general as a Bible version they appreciated and adopted as their own. “Go and eat of my bread” (Prov 9:5). Eliezer. who began comforting him with words: “Bread” refers to the Torah. the scholar’s or officer’s distinction..v. or that Aquila’s translation had any ideological significance for the rabbis. LABENDZ 355 shifts in this way. On the other hand. as it is said. We can divide the rabbinic texts about Aquila into two groups: narratives about Aquila’s activities. Joshua. the cloak of honor. S. Jerusalem: Wahrmann. he obtains it for 8 The amoraic midrash on Genesis. 1965. 9 In the Bible the word VK means “stranger..9 providing him bread and raiment” (Deut 10:18)? He (R.. and 2) his role within rabbinic society is portrayed as having been ambiguous. simply pronouncing it the reward of the proselyte in Deut 10:18)! He approached R. See Midrash Bereshit Rabba (ed. the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi. I shall attempt to answer the questions at hand by sticking closely to the earlier corpora of rabbinic literature.10 When a person obtains Torah. VK).. Theodor and Chanoch Albeck. And this one (i. He (Aquila) said to him: Is this the entirety of a proselyte’s gain: “[God] loves the proselyte. and the Midrashic . the rabbinic sources will not show that Aquila’s translation came from rabbinic circles.e. Driver. the proselyte) comes and [God] hands it to him with a reed (i. and Charles Briggs. The answers that will emerge from the rabbinic texts are: 1) Aquila’s translation was popular insofar as he provided some helpful explanations of difficult biblical words or phrases. the rabbinic sources suggest that the situation was much more nuanced. Eliezer) said: Is a matter about which the patriarch (Jacob) begged unimportant in your eyes? “And [if God] will give me bread to eat [and clothing to wear]” (Gen 28:20). 10 Marcus Jastrow defines talit as follows: “Tallith. and 2) what role Aquila himself is portrayed as having played within rabbinic society. However. 30. 3 vols. “clothing” refers to talit.e. These texts can answer two questions: 1) to what extent Aquila’s translation was “popular” among the rabbis. R.JENNY R. Jerusalem: Shalem. repr. sojourner” (See Francis Brown. ■ The Narrative Texts: Portrayals of Aquila’s Place in Rabbinic Society Genesis Rabbah8 70:5 Aquila the proselyte approached R.

X]PJL^"LPQp".356 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW his children. While the sages defend the status of proselytes. 12 ˜NP[PXXPVKFL[E[ "VQERpVKPp[NFpPO]VL:[PVQE.” MaÝanayyim @7 (1994) 8–25.v. 1971. A marginal note there and the main text of several other manuscripts reads “he obtains the mitzvot (commandments). He is disturbed that the only reward the Bible mentions for a proselyte is financial. Kahana. See also the comment of Chanoch Albeck. 3 vols.” in The Talmud Yerushalmi and Graeco-Roman Culture (ed. Cohen. both relating to the portrayal of Aquila’s place within rabbinic society.. The author’s choice of Aquila for this role may reflect a perception Literature (New York: Judaica Press. 11 Thus MS Vat. and we certainly would not therefore conclude that Hadrian was Aquila’s disciple. we should not assume this reflects an historical reality.” See Theodor and Albeck. much less a sage himself. New York: Judaica Press. 30. Classical rabbinic texts portray many types of people as asking questions of rabbis. 1998) 1:141–71. that person’s daughters may marry priests.[]RFPLO^LV[XP˜HELO^. R.12 In this story. and even if it did. First. and by their [manner of] walking. which says: U[pFÚXT]J?FÚO[P]LFÚL]V[F]HFÚ]VO]R˜]QON]H]QPX (Scholars are recognized by their utterances. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. “Haterumah ha-historit shel aggadot Ñazal le-’or aggadot Rabbi ve-Antoninus. it does not necessarily portray him as a disciple of these two sages. D.13 The second noteworthy point is that this story depicts Aquila expressing a measure of insecurity.11 and further. [and] by their wrapping themselves [in a tallit] in the market) (Hebrew text from M. and we cannot assume a master-disciple relationship in every instance. Midrash bereshit rabba. two points are worth considering. 13 Similarly. Bereshit Rabba 2:802.. Ebr. Peter Schäfer. the best manuscript for Genesis Rabbah. in many rabbinic texts the Roman emperor Antoninus is portrayed asking questions of Rabbi Judah the Prince.(L:J . “The Conversion of Antoninus. who notes the tannaitic midrash Sifre Devarim 343. Aquila approaches two sages with a complaint about the rewards of conversion to Judaism. 802. However. Below we will discuss a text depicting the emperor Hadrian asking Aquila a question about Judaism. the story portrays Aquila as expressing concern about the implied worth (or lack thereof) of his status as a convert. . See Ofrah Meir. Qeta’e midrashe halakhah min ha-genizah [Jerusalem: Magnes. Both sages hold that the rewards of conversion to Judaism are indeed great. and Shaye J. X]PJ. but the text uses Aquila as a foil for the opposite position. Eliezer responds harshly while R. But we would certainly not conclude therefore that Antoninus was a disciple of the Jewish sages. and their children’s children sacrifice burnt offerings upon the altar. Joshua responds reassuringly.NF^QL]FKP?X[P[?˜]F]VUQ˜L]X[RF]RF[]L[ All translations not otherwise marked are my own. the text portrays Aquila as having had sufficient access to the sages—or at least to these sages—as to engage two prominent figures in conversation.V^?]P'VP\EWRORVKLWP]U? ?(L]:]˜]VFH)"LPQp[ [PLJ]p[L[L^EF['[K["POEP˜NP]PÚXR["?ÚU^L[]P?JFNXRpVFHÞ]R]?FE]LLPU]O[:VQE !LRUF ]PpQ)"]QNPF[QNP[OP"VQERpLV[XL[^"˜NP":˜]VFHF[QNRQP]NXL[?p[L]'VP\EWROR LR[LOPÚL]X[RFQÚ]E]pQÚLpEPEH[?EP[. repr. and there are even several texts suggesting that Antoninus converted to Judaism. 2005] 320). and he is unimpressed. For our purposes. we should not overstate this. 1996) 537 s. among the most prominent sages of his day.

Yerushalmi Hagigah 2:1. and Persians (including emperors) conversing or interacting with rabbis. 15 Hadrian does not specify the particular group to which he perceives Aquila belonging. we find a similar ambiguity. on the one hand. Translations. whether on the basis of being a convert or on some other unstated basis. philosophers.Ú]EL]PVQE ?]P?H[QXEÚLÚQL]PVQE .Ú[Q]UEÞPELL]PVQE. 77a14 R. Yudah: Hadrian asked Aquila the proselyte: Is it true that you (plural)15 say that the world is sustained by wind? He said to him: Yes. etc. For a discussion of this phenomenon in general and numerous examples. LABENDZ 357 that his place within the rabbinic fold was unclear. stood them up and made them kneel. 1971) 123–50.Ú]RK[LL]P]X]]E !?Ú[XURNHÚQL]PVQE ?Ú[LR]QXUTRHE]LEN[VEPÚ[RXVWN˜[POL]PVQE As Veltri also does (Libraries.Ú[?FVE[Ú[Q]UE. Romans. He (Aquila) loaded the camels with burdens.Ú[L]R[?JÚ[R[R[?JE. He (Hadrian) said to him: After you strangled them?! He said to him: I have taken nothing from them.18 Hadrian himself appears in the classical 14 Tanhuma Bereshit 5 provides a later parallel which is clearly reworked and fleshed out (and translated into Hebrew). Jewish or Christian Bible readers. Indeed. Yudah bar Pazi [said] in the name of R.). 173). stand them up.Ú]RK[L]P]X]]EL]PVQE . In the following text. “The Historical Significance of the Dialogues between Jewish Sages and Roman Dignitaries.JENNY R.” in Studies in Aggadah and Folk-Literature (ed. and “Canonic” Texts. On the other hand. Jerusalem: Magnes. He (Hadrian) said to him: Based on what do you say this? He (Aquila) said to him: Bring me camels.g. it is most likely that the author intended Jews. portrays Aquila as asking questions of the sages and expressing a yearning to be a valued member of Jewish society on the basis of rabbinic values. While theoretically there are a variety of options (e. Yosse son of R. given the context. is it not (merely) wind that I took from them?16 The first thing to note17 is that there are numerous similar stories in rabbinic literature. Thus this text.. involving prominent Greeks. thinkers from the Roman East. 16 17 VKLWP]U?PPEpW[R]]VHELH[]]FV]F]W[]]FV˜pF]^TVFLH[]]FV ?EN[VP?˜]]UEQP?Ú]LHÚ]VQEÚ[XEÚ]Jp[U . we cannot say with confidence that the rabbis considered Aquila to have been a sage or disciple. He brought him camels.Ú[URN[Ú[XWR. he converses with prominent sages. 18 . He (Aquila) said to him (Hadrian): Here you go. Joseph Heinemann and Dov Noy. took them and strangled them. see Moshe David Herr. and possibly rabbis.

in this case the context indicates Latin (]Q[VÚ[pP) and Aramaic makes little sense. See the story of Gaviha ben Pasisa approaching Alexander the Great: Megilat Ta’anit. This remains a possibility. 78:1. or the rabbinic perception of Aquila. 21 On this translation see Saul Lieberman. Rab. Yirmiyah (early-fourth century) in the name of R.358 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW midrashim asking R. Rab. but sometimes a person who specifically lacks prominence is chosen to speak with an emperor.19 Therefore. 71a–b The next narrative text is the one most commonly cited in the scholarly literature about Aquila. Rab. Hananiah—the same R.” Lieberman takes this to be the definitive translation of X]QVE. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary. Yerushalmi Megillah 1:8. 18:1. 19 Gen. . They investigated and found that the Torah is able to be sufficiently translated only into Greek. not only do important sages like R. . repr. Joshua converse with non-Jews. Sanh. (Buber) 3. which usually means “Aramaic. A barbarian (or watchman) “took out” for them the Latin from the Greek. pesharam. Joshua with whom Aquila is associated—similar questions to the one posed to Aquila. While emending the Yerushalmi based on a later parallel should be done only with great caution. of course. 10:3. 1965. b. if there is an “us” and “them” relationship between Jews and Romans.”). But again. Lieberman takes this to refer to the Vetus Latina.” based on a parallel text in the later Midrash Esther. 25 Sivan (Vered Noam. there is little about Aquila specifically. the text portrays Aquila squarely on the Jewish side (“Is it true that you (plural) say . Hiyya bar Ba (late-third century): Aquila the proselyte translated the Torah22 before R. we should not overstate the matter. 61:7. Joshua b. We should not rule out the latter possibility merely because the Talmud cites Aquila’s translations from the Prophets and Writings as well as the Pentateuch. 2003] 198–99). not necessarily the entirety of his translation. 20 . there is no indication that he is a prominent figure or a learned disciple of any sort. as above.20 Therefore. toldotehem [Jerusalem: Yad BenZvi.21 (Said) R. It is taught (in the Mishnah): Rabban Shimon ben Gamliel says: Scripture was only permitted to be written in Greek (or Hebrew). Rab. “Took out” implies that he rendered it. Greek in Jewish Palestine (New York: Feldheim. Even if Lieberman’s reading is potentially questionable. 91a. and since the meaning of this line has no bearing on my arguments below. Lam. but there is no evidence for that conclusion from the narratives involving Aquila that we have seen. and Gen. as it refers explicitly to his translation of the Bible. 22 Strictly speaking this could mean either Scripture in its entirety. Megilat Ta’anit: Ha-nusaÝim. that we can derive from this story. since this tradition only describes what he translated before these two sages. Lev. I follow it here since it makes sense. As for “the Latin. 1994) 17. or the Pentateuch. What we can conclude is that Aquila is portrayed as an insider among the Jews. we see that while Aquila is remembered as a Jew..

states.˜HE]RFQX]T]T]. 1:9. précedée d’une étude sur les traductions et recensions grecques de la Bible réalisées au premier siècle de notre ère sous l’influence du rabbinat palestinien (Leiden: Brill.” JJS 33 (1982) 528.” in JE 2:34. Whether or not that was the reality. so tradition has it. LABENDZ 359 Eliezer and R.” in Encyclopedia Judaica (ed. saying to him “You are fairer23 than the children of men” (Ps 45:3). possibly in the school of Aqiva. “This implies that the translation was made on the authority of these two scholars. Meg. For previous scholarship on this particular issue.. “it was a ‘rabbinic’ translation. Louis Isaac Rabinowitz. at the instance of the Rabbis and approved of by them.[P[VQE[[X[E[WP]U[ 25 The opposite is often either claimed in passing or explicitly stated as a conclusion based on this passage of Yerushalmi. 1963). 1999) 84. Cecil Roth. notes based on this text that Aquila “supposedly [used] their aid in doing his translation.X]R[[]EPE[FXO]p[V]XLEP˜]VTWFœEVQ[EPE]PQKÚFÚ[?QpÚFV]RX 23 . there is good reason to reject the idea that the translation was produced specifically under the auspices of the sages. in response to previous scholarship. “The Origin and Purpose of Bible Translations in Ancient Judaism: Some Comments.24 Scholars have drawn various conclusions from this text about Aquila’s relationship to these two sages. but I respectfully disagree with this position.” in JE 2:36. Origen and the Jews: Studies in Jewish-Christian Relations in Third Century Palestine (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Joshua. and they praised him. 16 vols. says. as I will explain below. First. “How Did the Rabbis Learn Hebrew?” in Hebrew Study from Ezra to Ben-Yehuda (ed. however. “Onkelos and Aquila. commenting on our passage writes. Jerusalem: Keter Publishing House.” Arie van der Kooij. about his translation’s general acceptance or popularity within the Jewish community at large.” Philip S. and about these two sages’ perspectives on his translation.26 This is a pun on the word X]T]T] (you are fairer). “Aquila. Dominique Barthélemy. produced. 71b (and parallels): ˜pPp[PL[EFXT]Pp[R[pPFÚ]VFHQ[]L]p˜p]PLEFÚ[Op]XT]P˜]LPEXT] (“May God dwell in the tents of Japeth” [Gen 9:27]—[meaning] that they shall speak the language of Japeth in the tent of Shem [=Jews]). see: Francis Crawford Burkitt.E. 24 . 1972) 12:1406.X]R[[]Þ[XQX]QVE˜LPEH]FHNE]RKV[F ?p[L]]FV]RTP[V^?]PE]FV]RTPLV[XLVKLWP]U?˜KV]XEFVFE]]N]FV˜pFL]QV]]FV .25 2) The text does not indicate any wider rabbinic approbation of Aquila’s translation than that of R. “Aquila. since the rabbis identify the biblical Japeth (XT]) as Greece (see Gen 10:2). Les devanciers d’Aquila.. that close attention to the particular wording of this passage in the context of similar usages throughout rabbinic literature can offer a more nuanced understanding of this text and its implications.” ARG 1 (1999) 210. even by formidable scholars. it is not expressed in this . I will point out what the text does not say: 1) The text does not indicate that Aquila composed his translation under the auspices of any sage.” Lester Grabbe. 26 Various scholars have summarized our passage or concluded from it a general Jewish appreciation of Aquila’s translation. Première publication intégrale du texte des fragments du Dodécaprophéton trouvés dans le désert de Juda. Joshua. Eliezer and R.X]R[[]EPELOV[\PO˜KVX]LPLP[O]LV[XLÚ]Ep[E\Q[[UHF . Alexander. Edinburgh: T&T Clark. William Horbury. “There are no serious grounds for questioning the Rabbinic tradition that Aquila was prepared under Rabbinic auspices in Palestine in the early second century C. Louis Ginzberg. The comment also resonates with traditions such as y.JENNY R. Nicholas de Lange. “Aquila’s Translation and Rabbinic Exegesis. I believe.” I will show that despite these scholars’ other important contributions to our understanding of Aquila and his translation. 1976) 51. however.

Stone. “Origin and Purpose of Bible Translations.g. Shemuel Safrai et al.. Similarly. Sotah 7:5). to three people: “Write a bill of divorce and give it to my wife”) (m.” 210. when the Mishnah describes the composition of the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy 27.v.g. Hiyya bar Ba’s opening word: ˜KVX. or that he studied and created a written work. 31 See. Israel: Bar-Ilan University Press.” in Armenian and Biblical Studies (ed. 1695–96. s. and y. I turn now to what this text does indicate. 32 In fact.. 70c. s.v.” but this is a uniquely Babylonian usage. 34 For example y.v. Jastrow. to the writing and giving of bills of divorce: ]XpEP[RX[JK[FXOLpPpP. 1:5. Sanh. See also Chaim Rabin. 2:6. “Cultural Aspects of Bible Translation. Meg. Dictionary.360 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW 3) The text does not indicate that any written text was physically presented to the sages. Berlin: Benjamin Harz. s. Bik. . e. Erkhe midrash (2 vols. Jacob Lewy. Jerusalem: St. Jerusalem: Karmi’el. its parallel in the later collection Midrash ha-Gadol (Gen 34:1) reads pVH. Wilhelm Bacher. Assen: Van Gorcum. Git. it states: NF^QLXE[RF[˜]RFELXE[E]FLÞOVNE[ Ú[pP˜]?FpFLV[XL]VFHPOXE[]P?[FXO[H]WF[L[HW[ (And then they brought the stones and built the altar and plastered it with plaster.28 First of all.32 and not Fp] (sat) or HQP (studied).v. 4) The text does not indicate at what stage in Aquila’s life this interaction occurred. e. For example.29 This verb is never used in rabbinic literature to denote studying (whether Scripture in general or Targum). 1924) 4:668. 70d). . regarding the book of Esther. 2006) 244... Our understanding of this verb colors the entire picture of this interaction. it refers to speech: Aquila verbally translated Scripture before these two sages. Vienna: Hotza’at Menorah. 80:1 (not in connection with Aquila) employs the verb ˜KVX. 3:3. . . 65d. “The Targum as Part of Rabbinic Literature. ˜KVX stands in only for words like VQE (said)31 or pVH (expounded). 2:6. ˜KVX. 30 See.30 Thus. y. James. 33 The Babylonian Talmud’s use of EQKVX or LQKVX has the added valence of “explain. Git. For the most recent scholarship on the practice of Targum in synagogues. 1926) 8:274. Rab. van der Kooij.27 much less adopted as a synagogal Targum. A Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic (Ramat-Gan.VQE ([If] he said . 27 Cf. ˜KVX. Another example is the frequent reference in m. where a certain sage is said to utter a translation specifically in the synagogue of Tiberias. where Gen. 61:5. Gen. saying). For lexical translations see Sefer arukh ha-shalem (ed. Alexander Kohut.34 it is also clear that translations of individual words or verses sometimes served a midrashic. ˜KVX. . scholarly function entirely separate from text. the text would require words like Fp] or HQP or FXO and some verb to represent the handing over of a physical object. 1976) 44. 20c. ˜KVX. The significance of this point will become clear below. Sanh. 29 In order to communicate that he presented a written work. Wörterbuch über die Talmudim und Midraschim (4 vols.33 While there are instances of this verb denoting the synagogal practice of Targum (the interlinear recitation of an Aramaic translation during the weekly public reading of the Torah). 2002) 591. Michael E. s. the Yerushalmi states: [R]X[FVP[NPp[XVKE[FXOVXWE[]OHVQ[p?LQ (What did Mordechai and Esther do? They wrote a letter and sent it to our sages) (y. Rab.” in The Literature of the Sages: Second Part (ed. 28 For the etymology of ˜KVX and its usage in rabbinic literature. 6:7).. see Shemuel Safrai. 1969) 2:320–21. beginning with R. where we find the phrase Ú]VQE[Ú]QKVXQ (we translate. Michael Sokoloff. and they wrote on it all the words of the Torah in seventy languages) (m. almost everywhere else it is used in the Yerushalmi it is followed by a quotation. 8 vols.. as I contrast the implications of the rabbinic texts with those of the relevant early Christian texts.

. “The Targum in the Synagogue and School. Bible Studies and Ancient Near East (ed. in highlighting ways in which Targum functioned as midrash. Immediately following these statements Lieberman provides several examples. or of a translation being embedded within a midrashic discussion. or instructive nature of Targum. Frederick W. Van der Kooij. Biblical translations may have been useful in rabbinic scholarly circles in a variety of ways. targum leads to mishnah (the legal teachings). repr. G.” While I do not believe the evidence indicates the setting of the translations’ origins. Bethesda. Another useful study (with extensive bibliography) is Steven Fine. van der Kooij does succeed. 1988) 74–85. “ ‘Their Faces Shine with the Brightness of the Firmament’: Study Houses and Synagogues in the Targumim to the Pentateuch. That is to say. not only could a translation as an extended composition be useful for Jews (whether in the academy or the synagogue). The Tanaaitic Midrashim swarm with such translations. 79–84 where he deals specifically with the interpretive. Moshe Goshen-Gottstein and David Assaf.” in Biblical Translation in Context (ed.” JSJ 10 (1979) 74–86. and passim. separate from the composition as a whole—could be useful pieces of midrash. .” in Proceedings of the Ninth World Congress of Jewish Studies: Panel Sessions. Libraries. “The Aggadah of the Palestinian Targums of the Pentateuch and Rabbinic Aggadah: Some Methodological Considerations.” BIOSCS 39 (2006) 69–91. Beattie and Martin J. Md.: University Press of Maryland.”36 There are plenty of examples of either the entirety of a midrashic comment consisting of no more than a translation. 159–60.37 Rabbinic citations of Aquila’s see the literature cited in Steven D. which means both translation and interpretation. 37 In our text about Aquila’s recitation of his own translation. New York: Jewish Theological Seminary.VQLRIMZE.” seeks mainly to draw attention to the midrashic (as opposed to liturgical) function of interlinear synagogal translations. among other types of midrashic techniques. Other important studies in this area are: Avigdor Shinan.” which is in stark contrast to Fraade’s portrayal. “Locating Targum. Derek R. “But the first rudiment of the interpretation of a text is the I. in Aramaic. . esp. “The Aramic Targumim and their Sitz im Leben. 2002) 63–92. argues for “a scholarly milieu as the primary setting where the Bible translations. “Origin and Purpose of Bible Translations. 1994) 48–49. The elementary task of the interpreter of the Bible was to explain the realia and to render the rare and difficult terms in a simpler Hebrew. LABENDZ 361 their liturgical functions. . 1994) 203–17. McNamara. though Fine adopts a perspective on Targum as “rewritten Bible.” 207. 36 Sifre Deuteronomy 161. . Nevertheless. These translations are sometimes quite instructive. . either in Greek or in Aramaic. Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. but see pp. and see the literature he cites there as having overlooked this important aspect of Targum. See also Veltri’s comments. Saul Lieberman has written. “Locating Targum in the Textual Polysystem of Rabbinic Pedagogy. were produced. he is portrayed translating the entire Torah: LV[XLVKLWP]U?˜KVX.” Hellenism in Jewish Palestine (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary. but the translations of individual words and phrases embedded within it—atomistically. 213. sometimes. Anthony York. Translations. and ‘Canonic’ Texts. . 63–67.35 I do not believe there is sufficient evidence to deduce in which sphere these translations originated—that of liturgy or scholarship—but there is ample evidence that they were used in both. Fraade. Rimon Kasher. as well as the rest of his chapter three. explanatory. including rabbinic citations of Aquila’s translations. Fraade. A frequently cited Tannaitic midrash states: “Scripture leads to targum. 1950. Jerusalem: Magnes.JENNY R. Knobloch. the literal and exact equivalent of the Hebrew ˜[KVX. or. 35 A number of recent studies have focused on additional non-liturgical aspects of Aramaic Targum. mishnah leads to talmud (argumentation).. like Fraade and Fine.” in The Aramaic Bible: Targums in their Historical Context (ed. no use of the extended translation is mentioned.

here he occupies an unambiguous position within the normal rabbinic social structure. Yoma 3:5. David Rosenthal.41 and often expressing that praise with a biblical verse appropriate to the situation. 40d. y. R. Ishmael is eulogized as having praised sages when they would offer LOPL˜?J (an explanation or reason for a legal ruling). y. Rab. 10a. 15:4. 55b. y. 41c. It is even possible that the only authentic element of the tradition is the notion that R. even though the legal ruling does not accord with that midrash. I do not see fit to dismiss R. However.g. 1991) 433–39. 48c). Ma’as. Shek. Joshua’s praise of R. It seems that the sages related to Aquila as a person slightly differently from how they related to him as a Bible translator. 40 E. In y. Aquila’s recitation of his biblical translation was received by the sages to whom he presented it just as any clever. his role is ambiguous. in MeÝUEVMQFIXSVEX )VIXW=MWVE¸IP (ed. y. But when discussing Aquila as a Bible translator. 42 E. or asking a question before a 38 E.g.. Nid. On this term. Sukkah 5:3. but rather is formulating the content of an older tradition in the parlance of his own day. 15a. Sh. y. Yeb. Hiyya bar Ba) viewed Aquila’s entrance into rabbinic circles. Sotah 5:2. which is notable since in our passage the two sages who praise Aquila are Tannaim. 31b and parallels. as in our case. Thus the perspective on Aquila expressed in this text is somewhat different from that of the other two. 17d) that in a certain case. 39 E. Keles kilusin. 3:4. I submit that the tradition is still useful simply as an indication of how a slightly later rabbi (R. the explicit statement in y. expounding.42 Thus. 70:16. 43 E. A further indication that Aquila’s recitation of his translation fit into the normal routine of rabbinic activity is the phrasing of the sages’ response. 6:1. In the Yerushalmi. 5:1. 7:5. Jerusalem: Magnes Press. Akiva was only for his midrash (his exegesis).. 10:10. y.40 and a teacher responding just as R. Hiyya bar Ba’s tradition without further evidence simply because his locution is amoraic. In contrast to the previous two narratives concerning Aquila. 53a.362 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW translations (below) will serve as clear examples of this sort of atomistic translation functioning as midrash. there is no ambiguity about his value and his welcome place within the rabbinic fold. proper. Joshua heard Aquila’s translation. This phenomenon may be explained by noting that since the sages used Aquila’s translation for their midrashim (see the citations below). 8:1.g. 55c (=y. Joshua do here—by praising the person (using the same verb as is used here: W-P-U). R.g. It is possible therefore that R. . see Saul Lieberman. several other Palestinian rabbinic passages feature a scholar translating a biblical phrase before (]RTP) a teacher. In addition. Bat. Ber. 41 I have not found this expression used quite this way in Tannaitic sources. 9:10. 1:3. or insightful point offered by a sage or student might similarly be received. they needed to portray the translation’s entrance into their purview in terms of a familiar rabbinic context. Gen. Hiyya bar Ba is not quoting a baraita (Tannaitic source). 40c. Kil... Ned. there are numerous instances of one sage offering a praiseworthy interpretation (legal38 or otherwise39) or behaving in a proper way (such as reciting one or the other of a disputed formula for a certain blessing).. Eliezer and R. B.43 It should be noted in this context that speaking. Eliezer and R. If the reader would in fact dismiss it for this reason. 20a (see also y. 11d. 5:5.g. In the two stories about Aquila that have nothing to do with his identity as a translator. y.

Nahman and the other sages (ÚRFV) as to the specific formula of the blessing over bread. there is no clear depiction of him as a sage or as a disciple. whereupon R. in y. Comm. Baron and A. The rabbis portray him in contact with them. 59a. I turn now to the question of the acceptance of.” 527. and with expressions such as ˜]QON[P[H[L (the sages assented to him).” For bibliography on R. New York: Alexander Kohut Memorial Foundation.46 In our case. “Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvätern VI. Akiva was such a prominent sage.JENNY R. W. Qid. 1935) 291. See also Grabbe. The description of Aquila translating before certain sages shows that he is perceived to have afforded them respect and shared his knowledge with them. Eliezer and R. Joshua necessarily reflect a minority opinion in appreciating the 44 Most scholars have assumed Akiva to have been his teacher according to y. Eliezer and R. that insight or behavior accords specifically with one—of at least two—extant possible traditions. Nahman’s formula. Aquila is recorded as having translated a particular verse before R. I would not suggest that R. but overstated conclusions should be avoided.44 No source indicates that Aquila was either the principal student of these sages. see Grabbe. after recording a disagreement between R. but this may simply be because they were three of the most prominent sages of their day. Joshua since they appear together in more than one text. Isa.45 but again this tradition may have developed since R.” 528 n. Marx. He is present in rabbinic circles. Jerome mentions two centuries later that Aquila was a student of R. Der Kommentar des Hieronymus zu Jesaja. whose collective positions are often opposed in rabbinic texts to minority positions. Nahman’s behavior nor R. or enthusiasm for.” 45 Jerome. Zeira’s praise reflected the general consensus of the sages. like the above two narratives. Joshua and R. S. . this may reflect Jerome’s perception that he was a full-fledged disciple of the sages. 6:1. Akiva was Aquila’s teacher. In another place in the Yerushalmi. Moreover. Here. before whom he did so. 1:1. and Ginzberg. based on both Jerome and the Talmud. In that case neither R. Akiva. though we can assume the perception of some relationship (whatever its precise nature) between Aquila and R. from this text. Jeremiah uttered the blessing in accordance with R. praised him (L]WPU) for this—using the same verb as did R. Ber. in numerous cases of individual sages “praising” (WPU) a person for their insight or behavior. Thus. or that they were his principal teachers. the Talmud records that R. Akiva as Aquila’s supposed teacher. LABENDZ 363 given sage does not indicate that this sage is one’s primary teacher. Akiva. only these two rabbis are mentioned. Zeira.” in Jewish Studies in Memory of George A. this is not expressed unequivocally in rabbinic texts. 8:11: “Akibas quem magistrem Aquilae proselyti autumant. Alternatively. we have no such expression of general agreement. which says that Aquila translated a certain verse “before R. Aquila’s translation among sages other than the two who are mentioned in our passage. that R. but as we have seen. but this may be true even of one who is not himself a sage. “Aquila’s Translation and Rabbinic Exegesis. while Aquila is most certainly depicted in a rabbinic context. Kohut (ed. “Aquila’s Translation and Rabbinic Exegesis. Akiva. 10a. where already seventy years ago he doubts. Eliezer for Aquila. The rabbinic authors and editors were quite able to express general consensus among sages (at least of a certain time and place) with the term ˜]QON (sages). 9. 46 For example.

and therefore might have no opinion or interest whatsoever in Aquila’s translation.’” (Me’or Einayim. and Lee I. 45). in each story Aquila is depicted as a Jew somewhat integrated into rabbinic society.364 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW translation. Meg. that he composed the translation ten or twenty years prior and enjoyed considerable popularity (or the opposite) in synagogues in. Translations. It is equally possible that he first offered his translation to the rabbis. 49 On Palestinian rabbinic contact with non-rabbis. ■ Citations of Aquila in Rabbinic Literature Giuseppe Veltri50 has already provided translations and explanations (particularly valuable due to his analysis of the Rabbis’ transliterated Greek) of each of the citations of Aquila in rabbinic literature. Still. . 50 Libraries. See Lieberman. 176–85. but it is clear that it does not imply anything beyond the opinion of these two sages. The verb ˜KVX. 47 In fact. Levine. while there is evidence that R. see Richard Kalmin. sages who live well after Aquila’s lifetime cite him with the same active verb: VKLWP]U?˜KVX (Aquila the proselyte translated). Joshua were proficient in Greek. What I shall add to Veltri’s analysis is specific attention to the context of the citations. To summarize my conclusions about this group of texts. Aquila recited something already composed (since we assume he did not compose it on the spot). after noting Christian criticism of Aquila’s literalism (see below): “In my opinion. and “Canonic” Texts. but his role is ambiguous. but only in his role as Bible translator is he depicted as fully within the fold. it is also the case that many other rabbis were not. and only then branched out to other communities of Jews or to the synagogues. ch. does not mean to compose a translation. The Sage in Jewish Society of Late Antiquity (New York: Routledge. say. The Rabbinic Class of Roman Palestine in Late Antiquity (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary. . . . as I noted. and a closer analysis of what the citations (in form and content) can tell us about the role Aquila’s translation played within Palestinian rabbinic circles of Late Antiquity.48 Therefore. we cannot draw any conclusions about the point in Aquila’s life or career at which his translation before the sages occurred. In addition. Greek in Jewish Palestine. The point is simply that some questions regarding the origin of Aquila’s translation are not answerable based on the rabbinic evidence. who said (t. so I shall not reproduce all the texts here. 3:41): “Anyone who translates a verse literally ([XV[\O)—he is a liar. 48 This is corroborated by the fact that elsewhere in rabbinic literature. . 15–28. Eliezer and R. it is plausible.” De Rossi writes. and only then approached the rabbis. namely R. Asia Minor. indeed we need not assume that everyone who interacted with Palestinian rabbis was himself a rabbi. ‘Anyone who translates . for instance. Judah. Azariah de Rossi suggested the possibility that at least one sage specifically opposed Aquila’s translation. and this evidence should not be used for historical reconstruction of Aquila’s career.47 Furthermore.49 Aquila is present in rabbinic circles. 1999) 27–50. in none of these texts do we find a clear depiction of Aquila as a sage or disciple of the sages. 1985) 192–95. this is one of the meanings of their [the Sages’] statement .

see Paul Mandel. whereas in the standard edition. pTRL]XF[ 8b)* and the perfume boxes LQUV Ezek 23:43 (Leviticus Rabbah 33:6) LPFP Ps 48:15 (Yerushalmi Megillah 2:4. ** Veltri. English text revised and edited by Harold Fisch.” which is surely a mistake (and the only extant example of its kind). LABENDZ 365 Aquila is cited51 eleven times52 in the Yerushalmi and the Palestinian amoraic midrashic collections (Genesis Rabbah. That is. . cites the parallel in Song of Songs Rabbah. the text reads (erroneously). Leviticus Rabbah 11:9)*** Prov 18:21 (Leviticus Rabbah 33:1) ˜]]N[X[Q death and life in ornaments X[]OpQF lamp stand Dan 5:5 (Yerushalmi Yoma 3:8. some of these citations appear more than once within the same or contemporaneous rabbinic compilations. 1997. 59a) a bondmaid designated Lev 23:40 (Yerushalmi Sukkah 3:5. Seride ha-Yerushalmi min ha-genizah asher be-Mitsrayim (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary. “Between Byzantium and Islam: The Transmission of a Jewish Book in the Byzantine and Early Islamic Periods. 179–80. Yaakov Elman and Israel Gershoni.: Yale University Press. New Haven. 1909) 80. In the Buber edition. and Lamentations Rabbah). Yohanan (third century) and R.53 Veltri provides translations for the following verses and words (given here in Hebrew with English translation from the Koren edition of The Holy Scriptures):54 Gen 17:1 (Genesis Rabbah 46:3) ]Hp Almighty (Shaddai– name/description of God) Lev 19:20 (Yerushalmi Qiddushin XTVNRLNTp 1:1. *** Veltri does not note the parallel in Leviticus Rabbah. 54 Jerusalem: Koren. VHL 53d. Libraries.” in Transmitting Jewish Traditions: Orality. the text reads (correctly). 51 Only two of the citations of Aquila are transmitted by rabbinic tradents. Textuality. “Onkelos translated. Tanhuma (late-fourth century). Conn. Leviticus Rabbah 30:8) hadar (type of tree) Isa 3:20 (Yerushalmi Shabbat 6:4.JENNY R. 2000) 74–106. 52 Not including parallels. “Aquila translated. Translations. Mashqin 3:7. Leviticus Rabbah. X[QP? embroidered cloth Ezek 16:10 (Eichah Rabbah 1:1)** to her that was worn out to the death 73b.” exactly as all the other attributions to Aquila read. 53 Lamentations Rabbah exists in two recensions. which happens to provide a better transcription of the Greek. 83b. and Cultural Diffusion (ed. 41a) EXpVFR Dan 8:13 (Genesis Rabbah 21:1) VFHQL]R[QPTP to that certain one who Prov 25:11 (Genesis Rabbah 93:3) spoke * And see Louis Ginzberg. and “Canonic” Texts. namely R.

the rabbis never refer to the composition as a whole. This observation. Ps 48:15. The passage as a whole begins with an attribution to a sage.55 and several are followed by Hebrew56 or Aramaic57 explanations of the Greek. Indeed. though semantically very similar. notes: “The Hexaplarian fragment . should lead us to rule out the rabbis possessing a written text of the translation. apart from the narrative discussed above. though it is not clear whether the intention is Rav Yehudah (the Babylonian sage. Yohanan (the 55 See Lieberman. . Libraries. beyond what they actually report. we come across Aquila’s translation of the phrase pTRL]XF in Isaiah 3:20. reads quite differently in lexical terms. Lev 23:24.” 59 Unless there were different recensions of the translation. 57 Ezek 23:43. A few of the rabbinic citations58 contradict the Greek witnesses to Aquila (others have no parallel in the extant fragments). Did the rabbis then possess an orally transmitted version of Aquila’s translation? Or did they simply retain atomistic translations of difficult texts? I am inclined towards the latter view since. however. This passage provides word-by-word translations. In contrast. 180. citations of Aquila’s translation are always introduced with the phrase WP]U?˜KVX (Aquila translated). . first of Numbers 31:5 and then of Isaiah 3:18–23. often simply into Aramaic. in conjunction with the more important fact that the word introducing all of the citations—˜KVX—specifically denotes oral translation. The narrative tradition cited above reflects an awareness that Aquila did not merely provide ad hoc translations. for explanations of these two cases. 58 Gen 17:1 (one of the two words of the translation indeed corresponds to Greek Aquila). 8b. Lev 23:40. since the topic under discussion there is the translation of the entire Torah. In the midst of this word-by-word translation. 56 . introduced as always with WP]U?˜KVX (Aquila translated). If the rabbis had written copies of Aquila’s translation to consult.366 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW Two of the translations (Lev 19:20 and Dan 8:13) are recorded. but it is the only source for such an awareness. Translations and “Canonic” Texts. third century) or R. Why do Aquila’s translations of a select few words merit rabbinic repetition in Greek and citation of his name? This question is particularly apparent upon reading Yerushalmi Shabbat 6:4. many other translations of words are recorded anonymously in rabbinic literature. Greek in Jewish Palestine. Prov 18:21. about which Veltri.59 and that the original Greek would not be omitted. mainly into Aramaic (although three times the translations are into Hebrew. and sometimes the translations are accompanied by a helpful related verse). Isa 3:20. and Ezek 23:43. even if it had to be re-translated. 19–20. that tradition may have been embellished to make a point about the value of Greek translations in general. As I noted in passing. one would expect that their citations would come closer to those of our extant texts. These points can help us evaluate the source or sources from which the rabbis drew in citing Aquila. only in Hebrew. But at present there is simply not enough evidence in this case to ascertain what the rabbis preserved. Isa 3:20.

R. so either name could be an inadvertant addition. This fact is difficult to interpret. One of the things rabbinic texts do is provide translations of difficult biblical words. Yohanan would make more sense if it is he who cites Aquila. and verses. it is more fruitful to inquire into how the rabbis made use of whatever they did know. Isaac asks a question. or that it reflects a special respect shown to him as a professional. “so-and-so translated” to a translationinterpretation is used in rabbinic literature many times. his primary value lies in his distinct capacity as a Bible translator. or was it the only phrase for which they were interested in it. Yehudah are mentioned in the previous line. and in that these translations are his only contribution to rabbinic literature. each introduced as “there are those who say. but Aquila is unique in that his translations are never introduced by a different verb (VQE. Aquila only translates. From this example we learn that while Aquila’s translations are uniquely stamped with the label WP]U?˜KVX.”62 The introduction. Aquila’s translation of Leviticus 19:20 is incorporated by R. R. etc. I shall now emphasize this point with a few examples which also generally illuminate the rabbinic usage of Aquila’s translations. In any case. This observation. Qid.JENNY R. but unfortunately answers are scarce. recorded as on par with other rabbinic exegeses of the Bible. here Aquila. It is possible either that this reflects a secondclass status afforded him. or that all they knew was that he never happened to say anything besides translations or explanations of individual verses or words. 59a. suggests that while he is perceived as being integrated into rabbinic society in some way. The fact that each and every one of the attributed citations of Aquila begins WP]U?˜KVX (Aquila translated) can help us understand the role the rabbis perceived him to have played in their world. Yohanan to be quoting R. but that citation may also be an interpolation. when considered in conjunction with the narrative texts. and if so why? These are only some of the many questions suggested by such a passage. it is possible either that the rabbis knew that he was a professional biblical translator. Aquila is always introduced this way even when the citation appears beside a rabbi’s Aramaic translation introduced merely by “Rabbi so-and-so said.). . Thus despite not being himself a sage. Yehudah is mentioned after the translations. cited.” 62 Veltri also points this out but differs in his explanation. while MS Leiden reads: LH[L]FVVQH.61 Was this the only phrase in these verses for which they knew Aquila’s translation. the traditions recorded in Aquila’s name are unambiguously valuable midrashic comments. and the 60 See Ginzberg. 1:1. and into how they portray the figure of Aquila. Seride ha-Yerushalmi. phrases. they otherwise fall right into place as standard points of interest for the rabbis. Due to chronology. it is impossible for R. Yehudah.60 and only for this one phrase (out of twenty-six words and phrases translated) is the origin of the translation. pVH. Samuel son of R. In y. 61 Though the word ^Q[O[ is explained with two options. Both R. The geniza fragment reads: LH[L]FVÚRN[]'VVQH. Yohanan and R. and R. third century). 80. Yohanan into a halakhic discussion about the “designated maidservant” and the annulment of her marriage. LABENDZ 367 Palestinian sage.

Yohanan. This is followed immediately by yet another statement.X[T]VL[]P?NJpX[ . the mother of Munbaz of the royal family of Adiabene who converted to Judaism in the first century C.368 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW Talmud then includes two alternative possibilities.). Yohanan: ˜]QON]RTPÚ[?Qp]FV]FV^?P]FVLpV]TÚO (Similarly R. The Talmud then buttresses the second possibility with a further statement of R. who introduces this last statement of R.” and then “R. Yohanan’s statement. again in the name of R. is reported by the Mishnah to have donated a golden XpVFR (nivreshet) to the temple. However. Next the Talmud cites Aquila’s translation of Daniel 5:5—EXpVFR (nivrashta)—which is taken to be the Aramaic of the Mishnah’s XpVFR(nivreshet). Aquila’s translation of this biblical Aramaic word could illuminate its cognate Hebrew word in the Mishnah. Yohanan cited.64 Thus. Hiyya himself would point out the contradiction more explicitly. Thus. not the other way around. . while R. Hiyya. Shimon explained. I see R. Here the question under discussion is how to interpret a Hebrew word used in the Mishnah: Helene.[]p[V]KPÚ]pp[NÚ]ELpEpV]KLX[[OH[[]p[H]UPÚ]pp[NÚ]ELpEpH]UÚ]V[NÚF ']pp[NÚ]ELpEpH]U[Ú]V[NÚF[]\N[HF?[]\Np]QÚRN[]'V˜pFE]NV "EHEL]QJKFLE\[] 'V˜pF]W[]'VVQEHEL]QJKFLE\[]E]LpEJ]pT. 64 The text reads as follows: EFP[X[UPQLÚQLVJ[TPLQ\?XELR[UE]LLQFLT[VNLNTpE?FUN\]FVVFPE[Qp]FV []\N[HF?[]\Np]QÚRN[]]FV˜pFL]]N]FVVQEHJKFLE\[]LR]EpEJ]pT ?˜pELÚQL]P? E]LpEJ]pT. Lieberman suggests that it is Hebrew due to R.]P?FX[T]VLÞ[XFVQ]XHLQOp]E]RTPLp[XOFp]EPXTVNRLNTpE]L[ It is possible that R. 41a.. Hiyya’s statement as an attempt to buttress the halakhic point made via Aquila’s translation. Yohanan had cited in the name of Aquila. The Talmud uses Aquila’s translation uniquely in Yerushalmi Yoma 3:8. Presumably. One said . However. Akiva’s lack of proficiency in Greek (Greek in Jewish Palestine. . Yohanan. regardless of its lexical rendering or the precise definition of the verse. followed by the exact same translation and explanation as R. but actually R. each based on a statement of R. The Talmud first mentions the Aramaic translations of two unnamed sages. Lazar. it is more likely that if this were the case the Talmud or R. Lazar son of R. the sage’s explanation buttresses Aquila’s translation. . intends to contradict the previously cited version of R. Rather. Shimon explained it before the Sages). . pointing out that it was not Aquila whom R. Yohanan. since only the legal valence of the verse is of interest. .Ú]p[V]KPÚ]pp[NÚ]EpV]KLX[[OH[[]p[H]UP VQEXEHLQOp]E]RTPLp[XOFp]EP'TVNRLNTpE]L[LF]U?'V]RTPVKLWP]U?'KV]XÚRN[] ˜]QON]RTPÚ[?Qp]FV]FV^?P]FVLpV]TÚOÚRN[]]FV˜pFL]]N]FVVQE . grouping them together with the introduction Ú]V[QEÚ]VX (Two amoraim. 20). since it would clarify nothing (or alternatively it simply did not occur to them). Lazar son of R. EXpVFR (nivrashta) was a difficult or uncommon enough Aramaic word that the two amoraim cited did not bother to mention it. the editor of this talmudic pericope understood these translations as exegeses with legal force like the statement of any sage. Yohanan appears aware that Aquila’s role was as translator.” But it is Aquila’s translation that is cited first and solves the halakhic question posed by R.E. and the other said . 63 Perhaps it is presented in Hebrew because of the legal context. the exact same statement is introduced first as “Aquila translated. namely his citation of Aquila’s translation—in Hebrew63—of Lev 19:20. Samuel at the beginning of the pericope.

Leviticus Rabbah 11:9 and its two parallels in the Yerushalmi. Leipzig. but his translations are fully absorbed into the rabbinic discussion. obviously a transliteration of the Greek Y_H[V meaning “water. Translations and “Canonic” Texts. Mordecai Margulies. Aquila’s role can perhaps best be described here as a resource for the rabbis (although how comprehensive a resource. Thus. 67 A contrast may be helpful.66 But we did not need to know the Greek word for immortality in order to arrive at such an interpretation. Hayyim Saul Horovitz. Sifre de-ve Rav (ed. repr. As noted above there are a few examples of a Hebrew or Aramaic explanation being appended to Aquila’s translation (see above nn. 66 See also Veltri’s brief discussion in Libraries. he does not even address the particular word in the Mishnah under discussion. and Sifre Numbers 157. we would still have a perfectly coherent midrash. 1953. Aquila’s role is ambiguous. However. LABENDZ 369 Here we see that Aquila’s Bible translation is utilized as a dictionary of sorts that can help explain the Mishnah. in one case. if one were to remove Aquila’s actual translation. 1993) 242. again. 1917. Aquila’s translation adds nothing. He himself does not explain the Mishnah. leaving only the explanation that follows it. Meg. as in Yerushalmi Shabbat (discussed above). a world in which there is no death). is not clear). But his translation can shed light on the interpretation of the Mishnah. we observe something more. X[Q[FÚ]Ep˜P[?. Sukkah 3:5. we read. . since PE usually means “do not. each based on a proposed connection to a different Hebrew stem (˜P[?. but his translation of Daniel fits smoothly into the discussion.” The Talmud then anonymously explains (in Hebrew): “a tree that grows near [literally: on] water.” but X[Q is a noun. ˜P?). having never commented on the Mishnah directly. and were we to find “Rabbi so-and-so said. 53d (and its parallel). though the midrash depends on the phonetic similarity of VHL and Y_H[V. see Midrash Vayyiqra Rabbah (ed. The biblical word in question is X[QP? (‘almut). Jerusalem: Ararat. The construction X[QPE is difficult to render in English. which is a later addition to that tractate). Amidst several anonymous translations. where Aquila translates the biblical VHL.67 Why did the text not provide just another anonymous interpretation of this enigmatic word as X[Q[FÚ]Ep˜P[? (a world in which there is no death)? We are familiar with the rabbinic preference for citing one’s sources. Aquila himself is not fully integrated into the social picture that the pericope reflects. 15a and parallels (also in m. In this example. Most of the other references to Aquila’s translation function as midrashic explanations of the Bible. which is one of the central projects of the Talmud.LE]WRXEWP]U?˜KV]X65 (Aquila translated: ENUEREWMZE [immortality]. LQP?. Aquila himself stands outside this discussion of the Mishnah.” instead of “Aquila translated. 68 See the baraita in b..” The explanation is necessary for anyone who does not understand Greek. Once again.68 and can see on any page of a given rabbinic text their interest in precise attribution when it 65 For the slight manuscript variants. 183. referring to a certain type of tree as V[H]L. A simple example is y. Aquila’s rendering indicates that he interpreted (or used a text that interpreted) X[QP? (’almut) as two words: X[QP? (above death) or X[QPE (against death).JENNY R. 56 and 57). New York: Jewish Theological Seminary. Avot 6:6.” we would find nothing out of the ordinary in these passages.

. whereas the patristic sources derive from a wider range of places and communities. unmentioned? This example shows that the rabbis considered Aquila more important than mere background information. to assume he was one of their own. we have also seen indications (again. we have seen the sort of interest that the rabbis. these texts need to be approached carefully and critically. We must keep in mind this limited view from the Jewish sources when we see how the patristic authors portray the Jews’ acceptance of Aquila. leaving Aquila’s translation. Aquila had his place. in both sets of sources) that he is set apart from the sages.370 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW comes to each generation’s rabbinic (or proto-rabbinic) forebears. marked as a translator and only a translator. On the other hand. 1992) 213. there is not enough evidence to determine whether the rabbis knew his translation as a complete work. In summary. ■ The Patristic Sources on Aquila’s Popularity among Jews The patristic sources that portray the Jews’ acceptance of Aquila are potentially useful since they mention aspects of Aquila’s place within Jewish society on which the rabbinic sources shed only limited light. and the texts do not portray his integration into rabbinic society as having been seamless. Furthermore. However. On the one hand. A number of sources that on the surface would repr. The rabbinic sources we have seen reflect only a slice of Palestinian Jewish society. or to suppose that the translation came from or was influenced by rabbinic circles. But what they cite—and the fact that they cite it—reflects an appreciation of the explanatory and interpretive value of these translations. His translation was useful to the rabbis. or whether they knew only atomistic translations of select words or verses. But why should Aquila fall into the category of a source that one must cite? Why would the sages not simply take what they learn from Aquila’s translation and convert it into their own midrashim. Jerusalem: Shalem. both as individuals (albeit represented only by a few) and as editors and compilers of the various Palestinian rabbinic corpora. which is merely the linguistic trigger. However. both the narrative accounts and the citations of his translation indicate that in some respects he was perceived as an insider in rabbinic culture and valued in his lifetime by at least two or three sages with whom he interacted. took in Aquila’s translation. but his role was limited. . In addition. ■ Conclusions Based on the Rabbinic Texts We have seen that the rabbis depict Aquila’s identity ambiguously. He was a bona fide source of knowledge and deserved to be cited as such. we have seen that it is far too simplistic to view the rabbis as having unequivocally embraced Aquila. rabbinic scholarship appears to have used his translations for generations. but only insofar as it helped with difficult words.

” and James A. Christianity and the Transformation of the Book: Origen. 1995). Sanders. Conn.71 Furthermore. translations of the Bible. and held together.72 69 See Anthony Grafton and Megan Williams. Lee Martin McDonald and James A. “The process of transmission in such an unregulatable world of individual small units created problems that usually must have gone unnoticed. LABENDZ 371 seem to communicate a great deal about Jewish interest in Aquila’s translation on closer consideration are less clear or less reliable than we might have assumed.” “The Birth (Gestations) of the Canon. Gamble. Sive veterum interpretum Graecorum in totum Vetus Testamentum fragmenta (Oxonii: e typographeo Clarendoniano.” both in The Canon Debate (ed.: Harvard University Press. “The Issue of Closure in the Canonical Process. it is not clear to what extent Christian authors were aware of this problem. Sive veterum interpretum Graecorum in totum Vetus Testamentum fragmenta (trans. Therefore. but also on the topic of Aquila’s translation in general. on scrolls or mini-codices. copies of one and the same “book” varied from manuscript to manuscript.” . One problem in navigating the patristic sources (specifically on the topic of Aquila’s translation among the Jews. back into the period when the respected literatures known as “scriptures” were transmitted piecemeal. 2004) 21–35 and 252–63. Gérard J. Gabalda. it is not clear to what extent the various references to it. bound and portable like a modern book. Sanders. University of Toronto. Paris: J. Norton. 72 Kraft states. but the very idea of the Bible as a circumscribed body of literature was not yet fully formed for Christians. Kraft has recently stated: We do an injustice to the Jewish and Christian heritage if we import our concept of “Bible. 70 “The Birth (Gestations) of the Canon: From Scriptures to ‘THE Scripture’ in Early Judaism and Early Christianity” (lecture. Origenis Hexaplorum quae supersunt. 1875) xxv-xxvii. through lists or physical collections or conceptual abstractions which often were more open ended (or less closely defined) than became possible and actual with the development of the mega-codex in the 4th century C.: Hendrickson. Power. as discussed below) is that they mention the translation as though it were a single volume. 71 See the sample of 48 double readings from various witnesses given by Frederick Field. http://ccat. 2005) 54–56. English version: Frederick Field’s Prolegomena to Origenis Hexaplorum quae supersunt.E. by extension.” with its fixed and exclusive rak/temp/toronto2/jpgs/toronto2-2007. Kim Haines-Eitzen. and the Transmitters of Early Christian Literature (New York: Oxford University Press. 2000).sas. except by very textually aware scholars such as Origen. 2006). Harry Y. 12 April 2007.69 Robert A.: Yale University Press.html). reflect a stable text. This was simply not the case. Eugene Ulrich. especially given that only fragments of Aquila’s translation survive. Eusebius. Not only was the material reality different from books of today. and the Library of Caesarea (Cambridge.70 Along similar lines. The material nature of the Bible and the concept of biblical literature perforce influenced the way early Christians in particular thought about and used the Bible and. Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts (New Haven. The production of Origen’s famous ‘hexapla’ was in part fueled by such issues. as to versions of the Septuagint. Guardian of Letters: Literacy. Mass. Peabody.JENNY R.upenn. if so desired. “The Notion and Definition of Canon. Mass.

Third.” they provide. Peabody. see below at n. “following the Hebrew reading.” although this should not be understood as reflecting the actual material state of these books in antiquity. The one remark that I believe can be made generally is that for a few early Church Fathers representing a variety of locales. a slave to the Hebrew language. Second.) In Origen’s letter to Africanus (c. nor of terminology that avoids all confusion. Aquila’s translation is associated in some way with the Jews.372 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW There is at present no scholarly consensus on how to resolve these problems.bTEZRX[RQEDPPSRINTMXIXIYKQIZR[PG 11:52. as the one which has been most successful. For all that my readings below may be minimalist. Origen indicates three things.. knowing the limitations of understanding the evidence of the patristic sources allows us to focus more closely on questions that we can answer. For “slave to the Hebrew language. Yet it is hard to know exactly what to make of each piece of evidence. that Aquila’s translation is regarded by those people as comparatively more successful than the other extant Greek translations.74 gives it. and I now turn to the task of uncovering some of their subtleties.)73 he says the following about Aquila. I present these questions as potential directions for further scholarship. Translation based on Ante-Nicene Fathers (ed. but did not know Hebrew. There are a few sources commonly cited in the literature as Christian evidence of the popularity of Aquila’s translation among Jews. Origen (185–254 C. 1914) 60. or text. repr. in the context of a reading of Aquila that accords with the Hebrew against the Septuagint: For so Aquila. to Jews as well. the point must be made that even when Aquila figured into Christian writings in purely Christian contexts (i. I will adopt simple terminologies such as “Bible” and “Septuagint.. 74 This is not a criticism.: Hendrickson. and whose version is most commonly used by those who do not know Hebrew. that Aquila’s translation is used by those who would otherwise have used the original. with some changes. For now. Aquila is known—and moreover mentioned—as an important figure. 10 vols.” but this is not the literal translation. 1994) 4:386 (henceforth ANF). that Jews in the third century respect Aquila for his efforts.E. An Introduction to the Old Testament in Greek (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press..75 This testimony is of considerable importance. 107. First. even as some scholars have taken its implications too far. 73 Henry Barclay Swete.ENKRSSYDRXIb XLRÒ)FVEMZ[RHMEZPIOXSRGVLDWUEM[. I raise these issues for two reasons.E. who has obtained the credit among the Jews of having translated (LNVQLRIYOIZREM) the Scriptures with no ordinary care. Second. Mass. Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson. 240 C. 1885. . contexts in which neither Judaism nor particular Jews are mentioned). 75 3Y_ X [ KE V  ©% OYZ P Eb HSYPIYZ [ R XL D  Ò)FVEMZ [ R PIZ \ IM IN O HIZ H [OIR IMN T [Z R  JMPSXMQSZ X IVSR TITMWXIYQIZRSbTEVE©-SYHEMZSMbLNVQLRIYOIZREMXLR*VETLZR[`QEZPMWXEIMN[ZUEWMRSM. New York: The Christian Literature Company.e. First.

23 amidst a discussion of the nature of angels: In the Septuagint too they are called both angels of God and sons of God. it is impossible to know to whom he is referring. Augustine (354–430 C. “Origen is without doubt speaking not only about Jews ignorant of Hebrew.” to use Origen’s word) in mid-third-century Palestine. 78 For recent scholarship on the question of the knowledge and use of Hebrew among Jews in third-century Palestine. while other scholars have cited this passage as evidence of synagogue use. Origen’s comment is firm evidence of neither. But again. Greek-speaking Jewish community. as we have seen. and “Canonic” Texts. Where Swete concluded from this line that Aquila’s translation was “used by all Jews who did not understand Hebrew. is not attested in all the manuscripts. LABENDZ 373 However. Veltri. for some have 76 Swete. so many of our conclusions must be tentative. This reading. My point is simply that Origen’s testimony is vague. 77 .” in Ancient Judaism in Its Hellenistic Context (ed. we do not know in what contexts Aquila’s translation was “used.78 On the other hand.JENNY R. Origen is certainly not referring to the rabbinic Jewish community when he references those who do not use the Hebrew text because they do not know Hebrew. And of course.”76 Veltri comments. to a wider Greek-speaking Jewish community. Libraries. even if the Bible is the extent of their Hebrew knowledge. Leiden: Brill. once again.” It is possible that Origen means only Jews.) Augustine makes the following comment in The City of God 15. Translations. throughout this letter he mentions Jews as those who use the Hebrew text of the Bible. Aquila’s translation was in circulation and use (“commonly. “Hebrew and Imperialism in Jewish Palestine. after all. Introduction. but also (perhaps especially?) of Christian writers like himself who use Aquila as a dictionary of the Hebrew language.” Veltri assumes an academic context (as a dictionary). If Origen is referring to the rabbis. 165–66.”77 My only disagreement with Veltri is the phrase “without doubt. as Veltri assumes. and that Aquila’s translation was known and respected among some Jews. In fact. in keeping with the start of his description. it is not clear which Jews respect Aquila. If he means synagogue use. If Origen is referring at least in part to Jews.E. 33. it is also possible that he is now talking about non-Jews. it is also possible that he means to include both categories. or in addition. this broadens the scope of Jewish interest in Aquila from what we knew from the rabbinic texts. see Seth Schwartz. Carol Bakhos. this broadens Aquila’s place in Jewish society from the learned. As for the second point. to be sure. Hebrew-speaking rabbinic community to the broader. But if he is referring rather. Furthermore. then we lack corroborating evidence of this claim. 2005) 81–83 and the literature cited there. What we can conclude with certainty is that according to Origen. then the evidence of rabbinic literature confirms this.

Lookstein Memorial Volume (ed.” in Rabbi Joseph H. Harkins.”82 Justinian writes that he is responding to a Jewish petition to resolve a dispute among Jews about admitting Greek as an acceptable language in which to read Scripture. Quod quidem non omnes codices habent. 81 Greek with English translation and commentary in Amnon Linder.. since as I noted at the outset the nature of rabbinic texts shifts dramatically at that time. 408. Utrumque autem verum est.80 so his testimony cannot necessarily be relied upon to reflect a contemporary reality. The above passage may simply reflect a tradition that Augustine had heard from predecessors like Africanus. 82 Linder. in my opinion inappropriately. For prior scholarship see ibid. 1966) 4:555–57. Cambridge.E.. 43 nn. The Jews in Roman Imperial Legislation (Detroit: Wayne State University Press. Jews in Roman Imperial Legislation. scholars disagree about whether Augustine had actual contact with Jews.81 since it is often cited in literature about Aquila. says in his version neither angels of God nor sons of God but sons of gods. and chose (or chose to stick with) Aquila’s.374 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW only “sons of God. we may attempt to resolve another question. stated comparatively. Baumgarten. This law published by Justinian deals with the question of what version of Scripture the Jews may use in synagogue or “in general. and even if it does reflect a contemporary perspective. The City of God against the Pagans (ed. Mass. on the other hand. non angelos Dei nec filios Dei sed filios deorum interpretatus est. stating only the Jews’ relative appreciation of Aquila. and trans. which side 79 “Et septuaginta quidem interpretes et angelos Dei dixerunt istos et filios Dei. But it is worth hesitating since. nam quidam nisi filios Dei non habent. . Justinian (482/3–565 C. the question remains as to what extent Jews used translations in the first place. However. I will include in this study a Christian Roman legal passage dated to 553 C. 80 The most recent scholarship on this topic (to my knowledge) is Franklin T.E. We do not know who submitted this petition. and since we do not have any evidence of this from the rabbis. Philip Levine. any place where there are Hebrews. Leo Landman. Augustine’s wording (whether based on his own observations or based on the testimony of his predecessors) indicates that at least some Jews knew of other translations. It is tempting to conclude the same from Origen’s comment that Aquila has been the most successful “of all the others”—again.” JSJ 36 (2005) 41–64. “Nuancing Augustine’s Hermeneutical Jew: Allegory and Actual Jews in the Bishop’s Sermons.: Harvard University Press. and the literature cited throughout the article.” Aquila.” Text and translation from Augustine. quem interpretem Iudaei ceteris anteponunt. 1987) 402–11. whom the Jews prefer to the other translators.79 This comment possibly constitutes early-fifth-century testimony of a Jewish preference for Aquila. New York: Ktav. as has already been shown. LCL 414. See also Albert I.) Although I did not venture into sixth-century rabbinic sources. But in noting this comparative phrasing. Aquila autem. 1980) 37–44. 1 and 2. it is not clear that Origen was speaking about Jews in that part of the sentence. His wording is comparative. But either expression is right. “Justinian and the Jews. Novella Justiniani 146.

as follows: But in order that we shall not appear to prohibit them all the other translations. and that the emperor himself brought up the issue in an effort to eliminate Hebrew from synagogues. “that of Aquila. LABENDZ 375 of the argument they were on. 87 TPLRENPP©[ZbE?RQLXEbPSMTEbEYNXSMDbENTSOPIMZIMRRSQMWUIMZLQIRI. as Rutgers points out. Leonard Rutgers has recently argued that the petition was a fabrication by Justinian.JENNY R. we have no idea whether Jews actually 83 For a brief discussion of this question. Burlington.85 although he was a gentile86 and in some readings differs not a little from the Septuagint. for reasons having nothing to do with internal Jewish affairs. since this will allow them to see the (Christian) truth of Scripture unencumbered by errant (Jewish) interpretations. 2003) 385–407. the Jews might be quicker to replace their postbiblical interpretations with Aquila’s biblical translation (in which case Justinian comes out on top by far). if it really existed and from whomever it comes.: Ashgate. But he permits Aquila’s translation as well. Leuven: Peeters. given that some Christian writers (see below) believed Aquila to have corrupted key theological points in the Bible.84 It is also important to note that the question. Aquila’s translation is known to have been literalistic. Justinian answers that Jews may indeed read in Greek and any other language that they speak.90 But in any event.” in Jewish Culture and Society under the Christian Roman Empire (ed. they should read from the Septuagint due to its accuracy and to its miraculous origins. does not mention any translation specifically. despite Aquila’s literalism. “Can We Speak of Jewish Orthodoxy in Byzantium?” in Byzantine Orthodoxies (ed. it is surprising that Justinian permits Aquila.88 Further.87 It is surprising that someone who wants to rid Jewish readings of Scripture of anti.or non-Christian interpretations would permit Aquila to be used. 2006) 170–72. see Nicolas de Lange. since Justinian emphasizes the importance of allegorical rather than literal understandings of the Bible. 84 Leonard Rutgers.VQLRIMZEbE?HIMERHMZHSQIR OEM XLD ©%OYZPSYOIGVLDWUEMOE?RIMN ENPPSZJYPSbINOIMDRSbOEM SYN QIXVMZERINTMZ XMR[RPIZ\I[RI?GL TVSbXSYbINFHSQLZOSRXEXLRHMEJ[RMZER. 85 Literally. He then specifies that if they read in Greek. we give permission to use also Aquila’s translation. he was viewed as something of an interpreter.” 86 In this context “gentile” clearly means non-Christian. Andrew Louth and Augustine Casidy. and if Justinian permits that version. Richard Kalmin and Seth Schwartz. Vt. “Justinian’s Novella 146: Between Jews and Christians. and how many others they represented.83 In fact.89 We might speculate that Justinian chooses Aquila precisely because.

In Novella 146 Justinian was only outwardly concerned with promoting the allegorical . 167. In fact. Libraries. one could even go so far as to argue that Justinian’s willingness to permit even Aquila’s translation serves as yet another piece of evidence in support of the interpretation I have already put forward. 88 See Veltri. 89 Rutgers. for his suggestion. including that of Aquila. any translation of the Bible. and “Canonic” Texts.” 394–95. “Justinian’s Novella 146.Novella Justiniani 146). 90 Rutgers suggests that the reason Justinian permits Aquila is as follows: “In Justinian’s view. Translations. was better than the original text in Hebrew.

” 395). while others disparaged it as heretical. we have evidence that suggests that there were Jews. he assumes the Jews who hesitated to abandon the Hebrew would be more likely to adopt this version of the Greek. we are on firmer ground when dealing with patristic sources that express the Church Fathers’ own perspectives on Aquila and his translation. We have seen that for the rabbis. it is barely evidence of a clear perspective on the part of Justinian. I refer to this as the perceived reality mainly because it is always possible that early on Aquila was associated with the Jews and that this association was repeated uncritically. and the perceived reality we are trying to decipher. Regarding the perceived reality. as Justinian points out. Whatever the case. 1973) 497: “Justinian . ■ The Church Fathers’ Perspectives on Aquila and His Translation A number of Christian writers were concerned with the interpretive nature of Aquila’s translation. Regarding the former. Edinburgh: Clark. Moving on from the complications of navigating a perceived reality and an historical reality.) Therefore. and likely other non-Jews. also permits Aquila’s translation (which was therefore evidently preferred by at least some of the Jews). understanding that this is how Christians perceived reality may affect our understanding of the fact that some of them still appreciated and utilized Aquila’s translation for their own purposes. .91 Indeed. What Novella 146 really aimed at accomplishing was the total elimination of one thing only: the Hebrew language” (“Justinian’s Novella 146. and ed. mundane translations function as midrash.” The cautious “some of the Jews” is commendable. It is to these sources that I now turn. My claim dovetails that of Rutgers. These writers reflect what might be considered the inverse of the rabbinic interest in its interpretive value. we have also seen some evidence that Christian writers—Origen in third-century Palestine and Augustine in fifth-century North Africa—associated Aquila’s translation with Jews. Not all midrashim need be ideological. (Perhaps Justinian assumed they would. who wanted access to the Hebrew Bible but were faced with a language barrier of one sort or another. and Aquila’s translation was useful to them. in that I believe Justinian’s permission to use Aquila was a cover for his attempt to eliminate something else. interpretation of Scripture. and do not necessarily represent the entirety of the Jewish world. we have two realities to contend with: the historical reality we are trying to reconstruct. it is by no means indicated that Justinian either knew or cared about what was preferred. but it should be pointed out that while this is possible. . But we saw already that those texts are vague. given that earlier Church Fathers kept mentioning Aquila as a favorite of the Jews. since Aquila was a Jewish translator. this text should not be considered evidence of Jewish use of or interest in Aquila’s translation. Geza Vermes and Fergus Millar. be it the Hebrew language or the Jewish interpretations of Scripture.376 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW responded by reading Aquila. When dealing with Christian sources that purport to tell us about Jewish behaviors or perspectives. . He specifically states that his intention in permitting Aquila’s version is so as not to appear too forbidding. 91 See for example the revised edition of Emil Schürer’s History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (rev. possibly Jews not associated with the rabbis. Christians.

for example. then.” as Theodotion the Ephesian 92 The nature of the Greek text in the early Christian centuries is not a simple matter. C. 41. is often cited as a terminus ante quem for Aquila’s translation. 1996) 68–78. See Eugene Ulrich. but it is nevertheless useful to know how early the translation reached Christian circles. while for the rabbis Aquila is primarily a translator who is useful to the rabbinic exegetical project.” in The Ways that Never Parted: Jews and Christians in Late Antiquity and the Early Middle Ages (ed.” It was apparently Aquila’s Greek translations that entered their purview. 200) 338. that is to say that they cast their net wide in terms of what counts as “interpretive. Wilfred G. was made man. Adam H.: University of Notre Dame Press.93 Aquila’s translation meant something else. A translation in and of itself was by no means a novelty. But not as some allege. Alison Salvesen points out: “since [Irenaeus] only cites their rendering of Isaiah 7. interpretari) the Scripture. Watson. So when we say the rabbis are interested in Aquila’s translation’s interpretive value. His choice of words is telling: God.94 Irenaeus mentions Aquila in the context of his disapproval of Aquila’s and Theodotion’s translation of LQP? in Isaiah 7:14 as RIEDRMb (young girl) rather than the Septuagint’s TEVUIZRSb (virgin). we cannot be sure that these revisions were circulating among Christians in their entirety. Leiden: Brill. 1988) 3–20. Becker and Annette Yoshiko Reed.” “A Convergence of the Ways? The Judaizing of Christian Scriptures by Origen and Jerome. 93 Natalio Fernández Marcos. 2003) 246. so it was Aquila’s that they cited. LABENDZ 377 rendering the Hebrew text into another language—be it Aramaic or Greek—is midrashic activity enough. If we trust even approximately the historical accuracy of the rabbinic texts. see Mogens Müller. [thus:] “Behold. and bring forth a son. this terminus ante quem is unnecessary. giving us the token of the Virgin. The Septuagint in Context: Introduction to the Greek Version of the Bible (trans. and the Lord did Himself save us. Notre Dame.E.JENNY R. . but is not our concern here.” in Origen of Alexandria: His World and His Legacy (ed.14. Petersen.E. E. The First Bible of the Church (Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press. Irenaeus (120–202 C. But for the Church Fathers. rather than as individual readings pertinent to Christian theological concerns. a young woman shall conceive. among those now presuming to expound (QIUIVQLRIYZIMR. For an account of the specific comments of Church Fathers from Justin Martyr to Epiphanius on the authority of the Septuagint. They therefore turned their attention to the exegetical contents of the translation in a way that is foreign to the rabbinic texts. Frederick Field’s Prolegomena. Ind. “Origen’s Old Testament Text: The Transmission History of the Septuagint to the Third Century. and so the publication of Irenaeus’s Adversus haereses some time between 177 and 192 C. Aquila is an exegete who expresses his heretical ideas about the meaning of the Bible by means of a translation.E. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Thus.. Charles Kannengiesser and William L. for Irenaeus. 94 See Field. though we should be cautious.) Irenaeus provides the first patristic reference to Aquila’s translation. by whose time and in whose circles the Septuagint92 was already in common use.

he includes “interpret” and related definitions in his entries for forms of ˜KVX. The word I. and always in Palestinian texts. while other forms are restricted to the realm of interpretation (I. 96 See previous note. whether or not it in and of itself indicates much. H.VQLRIYZ[ is commonly used in the texts I have examined to indicate translations. .” Jastrow. though not referring to Aquila.VQLRIYZbI. translation . it means simply “translate. provide for the various forms a number of meanings: “interpretation. have a stronger valence of interpretation.378 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW has interpreted (L. expound . . 97 It is possible that Ireneaus was using these words in their classical sense. Irenaeus did not use a word that refers strictly to translation.” not “interpret. W. express. including the form used here (I. though it is noteworthy that etymologically it bears the sense of interpretation. The Greek words here for translation.VQLRIYXMOSZb).21.98 95 “Deus igitur homo factus est. 98 Justin Martyr.) Therefore I do not mean to overstate this point.8. gives only “translate. I merely note that the rabbis did use a word that means strictly to translate. Eleanor Dickey for her assistance on this matter. PG 7:946. 838). et pariet filium. but his definitions include Babylonian valences. et Aqula Ponticus. interpretatus). . interpreter. qui it audent interpretari Scripturam: Ecce adolescentula in ventre habebit. 591. .1. Irenaeus refers to Aquila’s activities with words that also connote expounding and interpreting. 107–9. RIEDRMbINRKEWXVM I_\IMOEM XIZ\IXEMYM. For Irenaeus he is included among the interpreters because he is a translator. Dictionary of Jewish Palestinian Aramaic. See also Müller’s disccussion. also criticizes Jews for altering the Greek text of various biblical passages on theological grounds. Translation from ANF 1:451. First Bible of the Church. . Non ergo vera est quorumdam interpretatio. esp.bUISHSXMZ[RL. (I am grateful to Prof. so too much should not be read into that particular usage. Greek-English Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon Press. Greek from Eusebius.VRLRIYXIZSRI. quemadmodum Theodotion Ephesius est interpretatus. and that Ireneaus’s choice of words. gives “translate” as a second or third definition of some of its forms.” Ò3 UISb SY@R E?RUV[TSb INKIZRIXS OEM EYNXSb OYZVMSb I?W[WIR WLQIMDSR  ©%PP© SYZG [. 5. utrique Judaei proselyti. The fact that he does not go out of his way to use a word that means strictly “translate” does not mean that he intended his word to be understood otherwise.VQLRIYXLZbI.” G. 1695–96. ©)JIZW MSbOEM ©%OYZPEbS. et ipse Dominus salvabit nos. gives for the various entries related to ˜KVX both “interpret” and “translate. Dictionary. which in some measure reflects the different role Aquila plays for the rabbis and for certain Church Fathers.VQLRIMZEI. such as QIXEKVEZJ[ or QIXEJIZV[.SZR[. citing its use regarding Theodotion and Aquila. explanation . see Robert A.96 Unlike the rabbinic authors. 4SRXMOSZbENQTSZXIVSM©-SYHEMDSMTVSWLZPYXSM Adversus haereses 3. Liddell and Scott. while he gives “interpreter” as the translation of QIUIVQLRIYXLZb (Patristic Greek Lexicon. does agree with a difference in attitude attested in other ways. Hist. 1843) 690. 1961) 549. Lampe gives “translate” as the first and “interpret” as the second meaning of QIUIVQLRIYZ[. For a discussion and sources. .95 Whereas the rabbinic word for Aquila’s translation is ˜KVX. any mistakes are my own.” and in fact we saw a few instances where it is used specifically as opposed to pV]T (explained) and VQE (said).VQLRIYZ[). Israel: Bar-Ilan University Press.97 For the rabbis he is marked as different from those who interpret because all he does is translate. Lampe.VQLZRIYWIR.VQIZRIYWIRS. which does not distinguish words for translation and interpretation. eccl. far more commonly in the Bavli. 2002) 1231–32.” as well as other definitions.10. as I will show below. . it seems to me. ipse dans Virginis signum.b I?RMSMZ TEWMR X[DR RYDR XSPQ[ZRX[R QIUIVQLRIYZIMR XLR KVEJLZR MNHSY L. and Aquila of Pontus. While the Hebrew and Aramaic ˜KVX in its Babylonian usage has the sense of explanation. A Patristic Greek Lexicon (Oxford: Clarendon. . . In Sokoloff’s A Dictionary of Jewish Babylonian Aramaic (Ramat-Gan. both Jewish proselytes. Sokoloff. put into words. of foreign tongues .

. While like the other Church Fathers he seems to have accepted the Kraft. “Christian Transmission of Jewish Greek Scriptures. The first two concerns are utterly foreign to the rabbis. as it were. try as they did. Benoit et al. Influences et affrontements dans le monde antique. since they did not correct. 185–254 C. Translation from ANF 1:452.” Each of their reactions was more nuanced. whereas Origen. 99 “Vere impudorati et audaces ostenduntur. for instance. is concerned with text criticism of the Hebrew Bible. Irenaeus’s work is concerned with doctrine. we see not so much a disagreement between the rabbis and the Church Fathers as a different set of questions and different criteria for evaluating the worth of Aquila’s work. Paris: de Boccard. Origen (ca. He says the translators “did not understand” enough to effectively change the biblical text. other similar verses. Irenaeus critiques Aquila and Theodotion for their wrong beliefs (regarding the virgin). Mélanges offerts à Marcel Simon (ed. qui nune volunt aliter interpretationes facere. their presumptuousness. the fact that Irenaeus is examining the entirety of Aquila’s biblical translation makes all the difference. judaïsme. christianism.99 In this context he points out also that the new translators indeed failed to thoroughly communicate the interpretations they intended.) In considering the various Church Fathers’ responses to Aquila. It is not merely a matter of Jewish “acceptance” of Aquila and Christian “rejection. A. and the closest he comes to wrong beliefs is his expression of dissatisfaction with the rewards of conversion. LABENDZ 379 Irenaeus also sees Aquila’s translation as an offensive act in and of itself. The rabbis nowhere indicate awareness of the whole work. In the same section. in many cases it is important to understand their perspectives on the Septuagint.” PG 7:949. in turn. Irenaeus finds Aquila inconsistent and short-sighted. Each Christian writer. Aquila is everywhere described as a Jew. needs to be read on his own terms. Regarding all three problems with Aquila that Irenaeus raises. after discussing the divinely inspired nature of the Septuagint. translation is a perfectly accepted rabbinic endeavor. who would now show a desire to make different translations.E. Thus. As to a lack of understanding.” in Paganisme.. But he does not mention philological problems or linguistic errors (though we will see that later Christian writers do). 1978) 208–9. Irenaeus writes of the new translators: Truly these men are proved to be impudent and presumptuous. of which they might see Aquila’s translation as a revision. and its importance as the text he believes the apostles used. as well as based on their specific contexts and interests. Origen viewed the Septuagint from a critical perspective.JENNY R. nor do they ever juxtapose two translations of his. and their lack of understanding. As well.

which were based substantially upon it” (italics his). who states: “It is not true to say that Origen fully recognised the primacy of the Hebrew over the Greek versions” (see also Swete.100 he did not consider the copies extant in his own day to reflect that original reliably. “Letter to Africanus. John Wright.” in Origen of Alexandria: His World and His Legacy (ed. Driver: “He assumed that the original Septuagint was that which agreed most closely with the Hebrew text as he knew it: he was guided partly by this. but as a textual witness. 103 After delineating his understanding of the word “law”: )Y`VSR KEV XE MNWSHYREQSYDRXE XLD PIZ\IMXEYZXLINRXLDXSYD©%OYZPSYI.104 100 But see Norman R.” 242–47. as well as Sebastian P. and our main evidence of Origen’s perspective on Aquila is that he includes that translation in the Hexapla.14. Sidney Jellicoe. He therefore sought to reestablish the correct text and meaning of the Septuagint101 by comparing it with the Hebrew text in his day. Ind.VQLRIMZEOIMZQIRE (And this is in effect what I found in Aquila’s interpretation. Christianity and the Transformation of the Book. he is distinguished from Irenaeus (and Epiphanius.102 Given this goal and his consequent composition of the Hexapla. Brock. Charles Kannengiesser and William L. de Lange.1: 8SKEVXIXEKQIZR[b<OEM>ENOSYPSYZU[bX[DXIGRSPSKSYQIZR[OEXEXSRXSZTSR TVSXIXEZGUEMXEbTVSWLKSVMZEbIM@X©INTMJIZVIWUEMXE OEXLKSVLZQEXEOIOMZRLOIRL. see the discussion of Grafton and Williams. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. Alison Salvesen. de Lange.VQLRIYZIMR TMPSXMQSYZQIRSb©%OYZPEbSYNGE?PPSTITSMZLOITEVE XLRTVSWLKSVMZEROEM XS OEXLKSZVLQE (“The orderly and systematic arrangement of the passage. 104 Philocalia 14. See Swete. and Theodition’s translations.” StPatr 10 (1970) 215–18. See Norman R. Origen also speaks of an apologetic aim in his undertaking (Letter to Africanus 2. 102 Aquila. 50–51. Besides this. and Joachim Schaper. 1968) 102–3.. to assert publicly the primacy of the Hebrew over the Septuagint. Symmachus. and with other Greek translations that better accorded with the Hebrew than the Septuagint did. M.2 (trans.2). It is not my intention to assume any specific answer to the complex question of Origen’s motivations in producing the Hexapla. 117–28. 1911) 49. 1976) 50. and idem. 1998) 3–15. “The Letter to Africanus: Origen’s Recantation?” StPatr 15 (1985) 247: “[Origen] did not dare. Origen cites Aquila’s translations as support for certain biblical readings or understandings. The Septuagint and Modern Study (Oxford: Clarendon.” Jellicoe goes on to quote Samuel R. George Lewis. however. Origen and the Jews.OYVM[ZXEXEI.103 and he uses peculiarities in Aquila’s translation as a guide (at least in part) to the proper rendering or meaning of Scripture. Cf. but he believed in it. Edinburgh: T&T Clark. and that numerous scholars have asserted and defended. partly by the other Versions (Aq.380 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW inspired nature of the original Septuagint.QEDbQLZTSXIXS TVEDQEOEMTEVEX[DUIVEZTSRXMRIRSZLXEMSY_X[bI?GSROEMQEZPMWXEINTIMOEMS. Origen and the Jews (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. de Lange.: University of Notre Dame Press. on Matt 15:14. Introduction. 1988) 48–62. writes of Origin’s Hexapla: “His ultimate object was the discovery of the ‘true’ text of the LXX. and goes on to assert that Origen’s interest in the Hebrew and his relationship to the Septuagint are somewhat more complex than often appreciated. Theod. There are only a few statements about Aquila and Aquila’s translation in the portion of Origen’s writings that are extant today.” 101 See Commentarium in evangelium Matthaei 11. like Jerome.” in Origen’s Hexapla and Fragments (ed. M. “The Origin and Purpose of the Fifth Column of the Hexapla. and to this end he brings to his aid other Greek versions known to him which might be of help in elucidating the Hebrew. discussed below) in that he uses Aquila’s translation not as an interpretation. “Origen’s Aims as a Textual Critic of the Old Testament. Petersen. Symm.) Philocalia 9. Introduction. I merely rely on this aspect of the project that is particularly relevant to our discussion. Notre Dame. but that is not our concern here. 68). the names coming first and then the predicates.). 58–60. Most recently. . “Origen in the Scholar’s Den: A Rationale for the Hexapla.

Dean’s translation notes slight differences between the extant Greek fragements.” 109 Epiphanius.108 After telling of Aquila’s pagan origins. 31–32. and then his conversion to Judaism.106 he provides an elaborate biography of Aquila which. roused our suspicions that the matter was so understood by the servants of God. who strove to interpret most literally. On Weights and Measures 15–16. This is not because of his literary ability or his constructive achievements. Only the Syriac survives in full. But we must say. Ind. which is sometimes misconstrued. Therefore. and “Canonic” Texts. 166. 111. Libraries. and goes on to describe the esteem shown to Aquila by Jews and those who do not know Hebrew (see above).105 Epiphanius (c. 106 See Epiphanius’ Treatise on Weights and Measures: The Syriac Version (ed. in context he is using Aquila’s translation as a support. has only distinguished the name from the predicate. . see Charles J. . and all the more because Aquila. as other writers do. 310–403 C. Translations. Scalise. and comments not merely on the product.JENNY R.E. on account of a certain shame that he felt (to proffer) a senseless excuse for himself. appears in his letter to Africanus (see above for the fuller context): HSYPIYZ[RXLD Ò)FVEMZ[RPIZ\IM (“slave of the Hebrew language”). none of which are significant for our purposes. cannot be trusted as historical.” Lewis. but (by the desire) so to distort certain of the words occurring in the translation of the seventy-two that he might proclaim the things testified to about Christ in the divine Scriptures to be fulfilled in some other way. 108 As Dean notes (Epiphanius’ Treatise. Septuagint in Context. . it is commonly noted. I believe this description is a positive evaluation of Aquila’s accuracy. written in 392. LABENDZ 381 One description Origen gives of Aquila. 107 See Veltri. Charles Kannengiesser and William L. Notre Dame. James Elmer Dean. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 60).) In Epiphanius’s treatise On Weights and Measures. 1). his conversion to Christianity.” in Origen of Alexandria: His World and His Legacy (ed. Out of context this might seem like a condemnation. 33. but rather because of his great and far-reaching influence. 105 This follows Swete’s reading. 1935) 2. in the main reactionary. Introduction. and Marcos. Epiphanius describes the translation as follows: He was moved not by the right motive.107 For our purposes. Petersen. “Among the Greek Fathers of the Christian church Epiphanius holds an important place. his final comments on Aquila are worth noting since we are interested in early Christian perspectives on Aquila’s translation.109 Epiphanius does not give examples of these charges against Aquila. beloved. 1988) 117–29. . but on the motivation of the translation. so I provide only the English translation. and because Epiphanius’s followers may have taken his comments quite seriously. translation from Dean. the words of it are incorrect and perversely translated. “Origen and the Sensus Litteralis. For a general discussion of Origen’s complex attitude towards literalism.: University of Notre Dame Press. Epiphanius’ Treatise.

prophets. the rabbinic world did not seek to promote orthodoxy. far from it.110 Then after describing the miraculous origin of the Septuagint and the divine inspiration of the translators. 1997) 240–54. Epiphanius refers to all three together: Now you become the judge. “The Septuagint as Holy Writ and the Philosophy of the Translators. D.” in Jewish Culture and Society under the Christian Roman Empire (ed. 113–23. were limitlessly pluralistic.382 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW After he writes about Aquila.114 110 Epiphanius. 114 See Müller’s discussion. Who Was a Jew: Rabbinic and Halakhic Perspectives on the Jewish-Christian Schism (Hoboken. Orlinsky. So it is clear to those who through love of the truth seek to investigate that they were not merely translators but also. 113 There has been much scholarship on this topic. and Theodotion individually. But they did not seek uniformity of scriptural interpretation to anywhere near the degree that the Church Fathers did. and Harry M. 1985). were not together. moreover. Symmachus.112 Epiphanius took issue with the very fact of new translations.113 For Epiphanius.. in part. Richard Kalmin and Seth Schwartz. For rabbinic Judaism. it was a divergent text of the Bible itself. Leuven: Peeters. First Bible of the Church. this was not a question of divergent commentary. he says of the Septuagint translators: Though they did not know what each one by himself was translating. and there were not many. emphasizing that the Septuagint should not merely be considered a translation. but were remote from one another in both time and place.” HUCA 46 (1975) 89–114. As noted with regard to Irenaeus. this time uninspired. The proliferation of different versions is therefore senseless. Note in particular that Epiphanius says nothing about the New Testament being based on the Septuagint.111 These passages show that. and when it came to scriptural exegesis. Paris: Études Augustiniennes. 1985) 41–49. whether the truth is more likely to be found with these three—I mean Aquila. but only that the Septuagint is an inspired text. La notion d’hérésie dans la littérature grecque des IIe-IIIe siècles (2 vols. Dean. were essentially commentaries. On Weights and Measures 17. 33–34. O great lover of the good. 33–34. Irenaeus raises issues that Epiphanius does not. Schiffman. de Lange. Cohen. they translated in agreement with one another. this critique derives from one of the most basic and central differences between (at least a certain) Jewish perspective and the perspective of certain Christians. The Social Structure of the Rabbinic Movement in Roman Palestine (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck. or other types of Jewish communities for that matter. like Irenaeus. Translations. of such a matter as this. Alain Le Boulluec. 2003) 285–318. 112 However. but an inspired. prophetic Bible. and the translations were identical. Dean. N. “Can We Speak of Jewish Orthodoxy?” 168–72. Daniel Boyarin. 111 . Symmachus.J. Epiphanius’ Treatise. the only thing sacrosanct is the Hebrew Bible. “The Diadoche of the Rabbis.: Ktav. Or. “The Significance of Yavneh.” HUCA 55 (1984) 27–53. See Shaye J. Judah the Patriarch at Yavneh. Epiphanius’ Treatise. as we have seen in the rabbinic texts. and Theodotion—who. This is not to say that the rabbis. but only three. and yet they were unable to agree with one another. Lawrence H. Ltd. And where they cast out words. they agreed absolutely with one another. Catherine Hezser.

Quis enim pro frumento et vino et oleo possit vel legere vel intelligere GIYDQE SNT[VMWQSZR WXMPTRSZXLXE.JENNY R.E. Mass. In his Epistle to Pammachus. . Peabody. the issues raised by Epiphanius—as a matter of disagreement not about Aquila’s translation or the translator himself. 1893. quia Hebraei non solum habent E?VUVE. and Rabin. Who could accept as renderings (frumento) of “corn and wine and oil” such words as GIYDQE SNT[VMWQSZR WXMPTRSZXLXE. sed etymologias quoque verborum transferre conatus est. Septuagint in Context. either because it is the first of all the versions in time.: Hendrickson. he corrupted Scripture. in the eyes of some Christians.” Aut.117 a construction which neither Greek nor Latin admits. jure projicitur a nobis. ¨VELXE[˜]QpLXE. “Et tamen jure Septuaginta editio obtinuit in ecclesiis. Epistle 57. on the other hand. New York: Christian Literature. “pouring. I. Aquila autem proselytus et contentiosus interpres. see this phenonemon as just one of the dynamics at play.” “pomationemque” que et “splendentiam. Aquila composed a translation of Scripture. repr. the proselyte and controversial translator (contentiosus interpres). it seems appropriate to view this aspect of Christian and Jewish reception of Aquila—that is.. . quod Graeca et Latina lingua omnino non recipit. LABENDZ 383 In the eyes of the rabbis. Epiphanius will not countenance anything but the prophetically revealed text of the Septuagint. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. 346. dicat) syllable by syllable and letter by letter thus: WYRXSRSYNVERSROEMWYRXLRKLDR.” and “shining”? or. but about the very nature of Scripture and what is required in order to translate it. vel quia ab apostolis (in quibis tamen ab Hebraico non discrepat) usurpata. Jerome (ca. 116 117 118 p[V]X[. quod nos possumus dicere “fusionem.” and “fruit gathering.118 The question about which we should be careful not to speculate excessively is what Jerome meant by “controversial translator. et ante Christi facta adventum. On the other hand we do right to reject Aquila. who has striven to translate (transferre) not words only but their etymologies as well. written in 395.) In contrast to Irenaeus’s and Epiphanius’s concerns about heresy and affronts to the Septuagint. . Gen 1:1.VL\]. vel quia prima est.ÚKH. though they perhaps overstate the matter in apparently extending this to all Christian and all Jewish communities. qui non solum verba.116 or. because Hebrew has in addition to the article other prefixes as well. “Cultural Aspects of Bible Translation. he writes on the best method of translating: Yet the Septuagint has rightly kept its place in the churches. PL 22:577–78. as we might say. ille OEOS^LZP[b et syllabas interpretatur et litteras dicitque WYRXSRSYNVERSROEM WYR XLRKLDR. made before the coming of Christ.” Was Aquila controversial among the Christians? Among the Jews? Or was it a point of contention between Jews 115 See Marcos. or else because it has been used by the apostles (only however in places where it does not disagree with the Hebrews). Translation from Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers (ed. sed et TVSZEVUVE. 1994) 6:118 (henceforth. he must with an unhappy pedantry translate (interpretur et .115 For this reason.” 43. 347–420 C. when Jerome writes about Aquila he does so as a linguist and a translator. But they were starting from vastly different assumptions about what Scripture was. and trans. NPNF).

1993) 41–72. I therefore turn to what we can understand from this passage. and the Hebrew Bible: A Study of the Questiones Hebraicae in Genesim (Oxford: Clarendon. the problem is not that Aquila attempted to supercede the Septuagint. and Adam Kamesar. on the other hand. For citations and discussions of Jerome’s citations of Aquila. 121 Hillel Newman. since they sought precise translations of difficult words (though it remains speculative whether or not the rabbis were specifically drawn to that aspect of Aquila’s translations). Greek Scholarship.: Eisenbrauns. As Hillel Newman has pointed out.384 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW and Christians? I do not believe it is possible to know what Jerome perceived. as well as his citations of Symmachus and Theodotion. 120 On the complex topic of Jerome’s relationship to the Septuagint and to biblical translators in general—Jewish and Christian—see Sarah Kamin. Latin) style. Ind. Michael Fishbane and Emanuel Tov. But Jerome’s problem with Aquila is not a traditionalist one. The rabbis. or that his translation was heretical or inaccurate. Greek Scholarship. . which so bothered Irenaeus): 119 On traditionalism with regard to the Septuagint’s authority.120 as we saw with Epiphanius. use the Hebrew Bible. and Jerome is therefore concerned with the running text and with Greek (or as the case may be. as well as to the idiosyncrasies of different translators’ styles. never whole verses or even clauses. also found in Irenaeus’s writings: it was the first. himself a translator. though that is not our concern). as we saw with Irenaeus. Hebrew University. and it was used by the apostles. as we have seen.D. and how they figure into his own exegesis and his Latin translation. and below. Jerome views Aquila as simply a bad translator who strove to accomplish more than is possible for a decent Greek text.. Jerome also uses other words besides interpres to describe Aquila’s work: dicat. Aquila’s attention to detail would have found favor with them. 87–94. and the Hebrew Bible. 1997) 75. which one assumes includes Isa 7:14. Jerome. Jerome favors the Septuagint translation. and the Ancient Near East Presented to Shemaryahu Talmon (ed.121 In fact. Qumran. see Kamesar. 1992) 243–53. see Müller.119 that is. The Christian community reads the Bible as a whole in Latin and/or Greek. for two reasons. This problem of the awkwardness of Aquila’s translation would not have been relevant in any of the extant rabbinic usages of Aquila. was sensitive to the issues involved in producing a new version. Jerome. since the rabbis. editionem. Whereas Irenaeus refers to Aquila’s work as interpretation. at least for use in church. transferre. diss. only cite words or phrases. Jerome’s distaste for Aquila’s running text did not stop him from utilizing that same translation when it suited him. eleven years before the above letter—he writes that he is in the process of comparing Aquila’s version to the Hebrew (having already completed his comparison of the prophets. in Jerome’s Epistle 32 to Marcella—written in 384. Winona Lake.” in Shaarei Talmon: Studies in Bible. and are only interested in atomistic Greek translations (and presumably running Aramaic translations for synagogal use. First Bible of the Church. Jerome in particular. If anything. “The Theological Significance of the Hebraica Veritas in Jerome’s Thought. Once again we see that a Church Father has a problem with Aquila because he is looking at the translation from a particular point of view. Heyronimus ve-ha-Yehudim (Ph.

LABENDZ 385 Let me tell at least at this stage. Symmachus. Legant prius.tertullian.128 122 “Jam pridem cum voluminibis Hebraeorum editionem Aquilae confero.JENNY R. “Theological Significance. Aquila’s reception requires a nuanced answer. Jerome. See also Kamesar. ut quomodo Graeci post Septuaginta translatores. Reading first and afterward despising. 128 Sciens ergo et prudens in flammam mitto manum: et nihilominus hoc a fastidiosis lectoribus precor. and nevertheless I pray this for the scornful readers: that just as the Greeks after the Seventy translators read Aquila and Symmachus and Theodotion. see Newman. he defends himself against those who would criticize his translation’s departure from the Septuagint. sed ex odii praesumptione ignorata damnare. but rather by the ignorant presumption of hatred. Greek Scholarship. and the Hebrew Bible. 124 On Jerome and the Jews in general. 112 there. they are seen not to condemn by judgment.123 Its Jewish origin renders it suspect. based on his assessment of their respective translation techniques. 126 See ibid. . Edgecomb’s translation: http://www. that for some time past I have been comparing Aquila’s version of the Old Testament with the scrolls of the Hebrew. Jerome. 247. that these are deemed worthy to have at least one translator after the earlier ones. and Theodotion: Therefore. popularity or unpopularity. approves (or at least does not disapprove) of Aquila’s translation. 127 See ibid.. non ex judicio. 69 and n. vel ut Septuaginta magis ex collatione eorum intelligant: sic et isti saltem unum post priores habere dignentur interpretem.122 When it comes to the content of the translation. and it is not simply a matter of acceptance or rejection. Jerome writes that the Septuagint translators did not understand what the Hebrew Bible meant when it referred to the future coming of Jesus. and the texts he cites there. quae ad nostram fidem pertineant roborandam. 252 and n. He writes regarding Aquila. 34. even though they did not understand (or they rejected) its true Christian meaning. 125 Kamin.htm. PL 28:826–27. so they translated vaguely or doubtfully. Jerome’s testimony also sheds light on the perspective of his readers. 31 there. then. Translation from NPNF 6:46.” 252. on the other hand.126 The Jewish revisions. and the extensive bibliography he cites. and—to speak frankly to a friend—I have found several variations which confirm our faith. 123 See Swete. Aquilam et Symmachum et Theodotionem legunt. citing Jerome’s Apologia contra Rufinum. et postea despiiant: ne videantur. Kevin P.. plura reperio. citing Jerome’s preface to his translation of Genesis. In the prologue to his translation of Isaiah.” PL 22:446. but ultimately its inherent worth overrides the suspicion. Jerome and the Jews. ne quid forsitan propter odium Christi Synagoga mutaverit: et ut amicae menti fatear. knowing and being wise. I place my hand in the fire.124 Sarah Kamin125 has argued that Jerome was more tolerant of the Jewish revisions of the Septuagint than of the original Septuagint.127 So Aquila’s literalism had a positive element even for Jerome. vel ob studium doctrinae suae. translated the Hebrew exactly. to see if from hatred to Christ the synagogue has changed the text. Introduction. either for study of their doctrines or so that they better understand the Seventy through their collation. Thus we see that even within the works of a given writer.

. This is quite significant. It is equally remarkable that both traditions seem aware of that fact. and teaching. and was writing in Lyon. and memory of Late Antique Jewish and Christian tradition is particularly intriguing in that it figures in both traditions over the course of centuries. and by Christians for purely Christian reasons. As we have seen. From the rabbinic sources it is harder to be sure what the rabbis knew of Christian interest in Aquila’s translation. polemic. keeping a close eye on what may reasonably be inferred and what is mere 129 For an in-depth discussion of Jerome’s arguments of this sort. just as they accepted that there were translations in Greek after the Septuagint. Jerome does not merely reflect his own perception of the post-Septuagint translations. but he expects his readers to agree that there is nothing preposterous about putting forth a new translation of the Bible. each of the above authors and texts bears unique nuances and perspectives. at least to some degree. The only thing that can be said with certainty is that Aquila’s translation managed to work its way into the purview and interest of some of the most significant figures in early Christianity. and how did they perceive the Jews’ interests in his translation? I have attempted to answer these questions through a detailed analysis of the sources. and the Christian awareness of his Jewish connections. But it is plausible that part of the reason Aquila is not portrayed by the rabbis as a standard rabbinic figure is that he and/or his translation also functioned outside of the rabbinic sphere. Greek Scholarship. mention that he was a Jewish proselyte. Aquila’s place in these authors’ personal study. Jerome.129 This perspective stands in stark opposition to that of Irenaeus (before Origen’s Hexapla) and Epiphanius (even after the Hexapla). before Origen’s Hexapla.386 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW Jerome here encourages people to accept his Latin translation. Yet despite the rabbinic perception of Aquila’s identity as less than fully rabbinic. and how did they use his translation? How did the Christians respond to his work. like his place in their Christian communities and among their Jewish neighbors. Even Irenaeus and Jerome. and the Hebrew Bible. ■ Conclusion Aquila’s legacy in the scholarship. Origen and Augustine say explicitly that Aquila’s translation occupied a prominent place in Jewish communities. Epiphanius lived in the fourth century in Cyprus. They also represent different places and time periods. see Kamesar. who do not mention contemporary Jews in connection with Aquila. Origen lived in the third century in Alexandria and then Palestine. as does Justinian later on. was anything but uniform. literary work. and Jerome lived around the same time but in Rome and then in Palestine. Irenaeus lived in the second century. his translation was utilized by Jews for purely Jewish reasons. 58–72. Appreciating this phenomenon requires a clear understanding of the answers to the following questions: How did the rabbis perceive or remember the historical Aquila.

concerns about. Moreover. He is also portrayed as having functioned outside the rabbinic sphere (albeit as a Jew. The Palestinian rabbis thus manage to express the limits of their identification with Aquila the proselyte translator. since often in the past the scarcity of evidence has led scholars to overstate matters. Furthermore. were readers of the Bible. expresses mixed feelings about Aquila’s translation. as well as in the light it sheds on the various issues—whether issues of language.JENNY R. expressing insecurity about his own status. LABENDZ 387 speculation. or as Bible version. Aquila the Jew. Christian writers have a greater diversity of opinions about Aquila’s work. All of these views about Aquila—Jewish and Christian—varied according to the perspectives with which the ancient authors approached the translator and his translation: whether they saw him as Aquila the Greek-speaker. in his conversation with Hadrian). Yet his translations themselves are unambiguously incorporated into rabbinic midrashic and legal discussions. like Origen. were minorities within the Roman Empire. as philological tool. the fact that the translation as a whole was not seen as preposterous helped Jerome claim validity for his own translation. and all of his translation traditions are introduced with a special formula that distinguishes him from the rabbis. but who was not himself a sage and was not fully comfortable with his place in rabbinic society. examining the different responses to Aquila and his translation is illuminating both in what it tells us specifically about Aquila’s legacy in Late Antiquity. and whether they saw translation as interpretation. with the critical eye of a translator who. A Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible by a Jewish proselyte might have served as a bridge between these communities. in stark contrast to them. and were Greek-speakers—Jewish and Christian perspectives on Aquila were not at all monolithic. However. Jerome. exegesis. Irenaeus condemns the translation as heretical and presumptuous and Epiphanius echoes that condemnation in even stronger terms. but instead. but individual translations were useful to him. while culling his translation for all the insight it offered. doctrine. it became a source of controversy that illuminates not their unity but their . Being heresiologists. highly values the original Hebrew text of the Bible. or others—that were important to different segments of the Jewish and Christian communities of this time period. or Aquila the Roman. the very diversity of perspectives on. Despite the similarities between Jews and Christians at this stage—as they lived in the same geographical areas. and uses of Aquila’s translation among Jews and Christians is instructive in and of itself. as they were for the rabbis. Therefore. Aquila the Hebrewspeaker. To reiterate my conclusions: Rabbinic narratives about and citations of Aquila show that he was perceived as a figure who was in some sense integrated into the rabbinic community. Origen considers Aquila’s translation a valuable text witness for the original Hebrew Bible and a useful tool in correcting the Septuagint translation. Aquila’s running text reflects poor translation technique in Jerome’s eyes.

for Jerome a matter of language. we glimpse this possibility in the various comments Christian writers make about the Jews’ interest in Aquila’s translation. As such. this case may serve as a corrective to scholarly searches for the Christian or the Jewish view of any given matter of interest. but also their underlying assumptions and their motivations for taking up a given question in the first place. We need not speculate about the specific opinions of silent voices in the Jewish world. we have seen that different opinions of Aquila’s translation do not reflect a binary division between Jews and Christians. but even the rabbinic sources reflect the different angles from which the rabbis viewed Aquila—as a translator. The case of Aquila’s Bible translation serves then as a demonstration of the complexity of these two Late Antique communities. The sources presented here occupy a miniscule amount of space in the literature of one slice of the Jewish world—the Palestinian rabbinic community. as a proselyte. Further still. for the rabbis a matter of commentary. Other Jewish sources are silent. just as did the broader Christian community. Even more significant than the diversity of opinions about Aquila’s translation among various writers is the diversity of their reasons for addressing the translation in the first place. . as a non-rabbi. The rabbinic sources are more unified on this topic than the Christian sources.388 HARVARD THEOLOGICAL REVIEW divergence. For Irenaeus it is a matter of heresy. It also demonstrates the necessity of seeking not only the final opinions expressed by ancient writers. but it seems more than likely that the broader Jewish community included a diverse array of perspectives on Aquila’s translation. Indeed. rabbinic or otherwise.

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Harvard Theological Review 102:3 JULY 2009 ARTICLES From Resurrection to Immortality: Theological and Political Implications in Modern Jewish Thought 279 Leora Batnitzky Friedrich Schleiermacher on the Old Testament 297 Paul E. Bagger Aquila’s Bible Translation in Late Antiquity: Jewish and Chritian Perspectives 353 Jenny R. Capetz From the Double Movement to the Double Danger: Kierkegaard and Rebounding Violence 327 Matthew C. Labendz Books Received 389 .

org/jid_htr .cambridge.Cambridge Journals Online For further informaion about this journal please go to the journal website at: http://www.journals.