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Rabbinic Literature, Rabbinic History, And Scholarly Thinking: Wissenschaft And Beyond

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Chapter Summary

The use of the newly available data of Religionswissenschaft by early Reform Jewish thinkers has been overlooked by scholarship in the field. This chapter opens the subject for research by looking at the work of Samuel Hirsch (1815–1889) and David Einhorn (1809–1879). Their interest in data about ancient religions was at least in part apologetic. The philosophic systems of importance to early Reform, those of Hegel and Schelling, used the data to fortify Christocentric positions and challenged the likes of Einhorn and Hirsch to support Judaism-centered history. Hirsch and Einhorn each sought to formulate a religious philosophy of Judaism within the context of new scientific data about ancient religion. They used universal a priori criteria, active-passive and centrifugal-centripetal respectively, with the aim of establishing the unique importance of Judaism in world history in the context of post-Emancipation Jewish-Christian culture.

Keywords: Christocentric positions; David Einhorn; early reform Jewish thinkers; Jewish-Christian culture; Judaism; Religionswissenschaft; Samuel Hirsch



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