Introduction Athens and Jerusalem

in Socrates and the Jews

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780226472478
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226472492 | DOI:
Introduction Athens and Jerusalem

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In the third century CE, the Christian moralist Tertullian posed a rhetorical question: “What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” His polarity between Athens and Jerusalem found a resonance in later Enlightenment debates about whether faith is compatible with reason. This book explores the conflict between “Hellenism” and “Hebraism,” and how the very urgent political debate about the treatment of the Jews gets transposed into the abstract formulation of the Greek/Jew antithesis. In particular, it examines the imbrication and mutually reinforcing nature of the philosophical and the political discourses surrounding Greeks and Jews. The book also considers how the Greek/Jew polarity played a key role in the transition from Christian anti-Judaism to secular anti-Semitism, as well as the narrative of the struggle between faith and reason from Immanuel Kant and Moses Mendelssohn to Sigmund Freud. It concludes with an analysis of Freud's Moses and Monotheism, written in 1938 under the shadow of Nazism, in order to demarcate a distinct historical period in which the Greek/Jew antithesis came to assume a particular resonance.

Keywords: Greeks; Jews; Hellenism; Hebraism; anti-Judaism; anti-Semitism; faith; reason; Sigmund Freud; Immanuel Kant

Chapter.  6493 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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