The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Revelation and Law in Rosenzweig’s Thought: A Cross-Examination of the Writings on Islam and Jewish Law

Ascertaining the thought of Franz Rosenzweig on the nature of Jewish Law and the commandments and its relationship to Revelation, is a task many scholars have embarked to solve. Though a late motif in his thought, the nature of the Jewish Law and of its commandments became an important topic in Rosenzweig’s late writings, as we can read in his letters to Buber, but is no less present in his magnum opus, the Star of Redemption. 
Scholars who have so far written on this topic have mostly focused on the Buber-Rosenzweig polemic, highlighting their different positions as regard the authority of the Law and its value to Judaism, and rooting these differences in the philosophical axioms of the two thinkers, often pointing at Rosenzweig’s incompleteness and ambiguity on the topic.
However, no study yet has tried to interpret Rosenzweig’s thought on Jewish Law through the prism of the passages of the Star where he deals with Islam. These passages, often analysed in relationship to other key concepts of Rosenzweig’s thought, like “paganism” or “philosophy”, are yet very relevant to our question of the relationship of Law and Revelation. Can Franz Rosenzweig on Islam help us better understand the nature and purpose of the Law and the commandments in Judaism Indeed, the passages on Islam can be read as an attempt by Rosenzweig to build an ideal-type of religion in which the relationship between Law and Revelation is misconstrued. This project therefore aims at offering a systematic cross-examination of the Star on Islam and the late writings of Rosenzweig on the Law. As I will demonstrate, comparing these two sources will help us to shed a new light on Rosenzweig’s position on the Law, and more generally, on its due relationship to Revelation in his philosophy of religion.