REL 204
Endtimes: Messianism in Modernity
Last Offered Fall 2007
Division II Writing Skills
Cross-listed PHIL 204 / JWST 204 / REL 204
This course is not offered in the current catalog or this is a previous listing for a current course.

Class Details

The sociologist Zygmunt Bauman has described modernity as the period of the world’s disenchantment, when God absconded and religion was either rationalized or reduced to the category of superstition. Ironically, this very disenchantment might help to explain the persistence of the concept of the messianic in even the most secular branches of modern European thought. One of Judaism’s most powerful and elastic concepts, the notion of the messiah saw a variety of radically different interpretations between the 17th and 20th centuries. This course will consider the range of modern interpretations of the messiah, taking as its concrete starting point the Sabbatian Heresy of the 17th century and concluding with Derrida’s philosophical development of the concept of the messianic as pure interruption. The course’s aim is to use messianism as a focal point around which to consider the dynamic relationship between philosophy and Judaism in modernity. This course will expose the mutual influences of these two forces, illustrating both how Enlightenment conceptions of progress helped to create the notion of “messianism” understood as an abstract idea, and how the modern/post-modern philosophical conception of the “messianic” as a force that interrupts time is dependent upon historical studies of the messianic dimension of traditional Judaism. The readings for each class will not generally exceed 40 pages but will require close attention. Authors to be read include GWF Hegel, Immanuel Kant, Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Gershom Scholem, Walter Benjamin, and Jacques Derrida.
The Class: Format: seminar
Limit: 19
Expected: 19
Class#: 1380
Grading: yes pass/fail option, yes fifth course option
Requirements/Evaluation: regular participation, weekly writing assignments of 2-3 pages, and a final 12- to 15-page paper an approved topic of the student's choice
Prerequisites: none
Enrollment Preferences: Religion majors and Jewish Studies concentrators
Distributions: Division II Writing Skills
Notes: This course is cross-listed and the prefixes carry the following divisional credit:
PHIL 204 Division II JWST 204 Division II REL 204 Division II
Attributes: AMST Critical and Cultural Theory Electives
JWST Core Electives
REL Jewish Tradition Courses

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