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Philology As Kabbalah

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Chapter Summary

This chapter discuses three examples to analyze more closely this astonishing intertwinement of science and metaphysics, of secular philology as the historical study of texts on the one hand, and of retheologized philology as an ultimately messianic project on the other hand. These examples differ in their attitude toward modernism and Judaism. Firstly, the chapter examines a pre-modernist model of kabbalistic philology, as developed in particular by the Christian kabbalists. Secondly, it analyzes an instance of kabbalistic philology from the eighteenth century that takes an anti-modern stance against historicizing philology. The case in point is that of the enlightened critic of the Enlightenment, Johann Georg Hamann. Thirdly, and most importantly, the chapter also discusses an example of kabbalistic philology from the twentieth century, pushing the dialectics of the methods of historical criticism and theological rigor to their limits by viewing philology as the continuation of the kabbalah.

Keywords: Christian kabbalists; Johann Georg Hamann; Judaism; kabbalistic philology; messianic project



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