Benjamin Pollock (Michigan State University): “World-Denial and World Redemption: Franz Rosenzweig’s Early Marcionism”
Wednesday, October 26, 5:00 p.m., Boston University, The Photonics Center, Room 206, 8 Saint Mary’s Street, Second Floor
This event has been co-sponsored by Boston University’s Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies and supported by the Boston University Center for the Humanities.
Ben Pollock will present a new account of one of the foundational narratives of modern Jewish thought and a decisive moment in the intellectual biography of Franz Rosenzweig (1886–1929), one of the most remarkable Jewish thinkers of the 20th century. The story is of Franz Rosenzweig’s near conversion to Christianity in 1913 and his subsequent decision, three months later, to commit himself to Judaism. In sharp contrast to the account of Rosenzweig’s crisis that has dominated the literature for the last sixty years, Pollock will claim that what lies at the heart of Rosenzweig’s 1913 crisis is not a struggle between faith and reason, but rather a skepticism about the world and a hope for personal salvation, which Rosenzweig came to identify with the figure of Marcion. As Pollock argues, Rosenzweig was severely tempted by Marcion’s world-denial but converted to a novel, post-modern affirmation of the goodness of existence.
Professor Pollock is associate professor of religious studies at Michigan State University, and received his doctorate in Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His book, Franz Rosenzweig and the Systematic Task of Philosophy (Cambridge University Press, 2009), was awarded the Salo W. Baron Prize for Outstanding First Book in Jewish Studies by the American Academy of Jewish Research.