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Recontextualizing Kaufmann: His Empirical Conception of the Bible and Its Significance in Jewish Intellectual History

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Abstract This essay revisits the significance of Kaufmann’s Toledot ha-emunah ha-yisre’elit in Jewish intellectual history, as its reception has hitherto been somewhat reductive. His work is generally viewed as an anti-Christian (anti-Wellhausen) polemic with a Zionist agenda that sought to glorify the formative period of his people. A closer look at his intellectual background, as well as his theoretical framework, leads us to a different understanding of his work in general and of its alleged nationalistic features in particular. The essay shows, inter alia, that Kaufmann was already making a Diltheyan hermeneutic turn decades before others in his field.

Affiliations: 1: New York University


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