Hermann Cohen’s “The Style of the Prophets”

Daniel H. Weiss

in Paradox and the Prophets

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780199895908
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949854 | DOI:
Hermann Cohen’s “The Style of the Prophets”

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This chapter consists of an analysis of Cohen’s 1901 essay, “The Style of the Prophets.” Cohen describes and distinguishes the biblical prophets’ method and style by contrasting them to those of art and of systematic philosophy. He argues that the prophetic style is characterized by a double-sidedness (or, more to the point, an avoidance of one-sidedness), which, he implies, is necessary for the communication of their ideas. In analyzing this essay, the chapter examines the various ways in which this two-sidedness manifests itself in prophetic texts, as interpreted by Cohen. Some examples include: the co-presence of tragedy and satire; the presence and distance of the messianic future; and the sudden shifts between retribution and consolation. The primary purpose of this chapter will be, by clarifying Cohen’s understanding of the prophets’ style, to provide a framework for an assessment of Cohen’s own style in Religion of Reason.

Keywords: biblical; prophets; art; philosophy; style; method; communication; messianic; tragedy; satire

Chapter.  12217 words. 

Subjects: Judaism and Jewish Studies

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