‘Judaism’ as maxim

From Ancient Egypt to Nazi Germany, the concept has had economic, political, philosophical and intellectual overtones – and penetrated to the very core of Western culture

By GLENN C. ALTSCHULER
April 4, 2013 15:17
4 minute read.
The Jerusalem Post

David Nirenberg521. (photo credit: Bloomberg)

 
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‘A good maxim,” Friedrich Nietzsche claimed, “is too hard for the teeth of time, and all the millennia cannot succeed in consuming it, though it always serves as nourishment.”

According to David Nirenberg, a professor of Medieval History and Social Thought at the University of Chicago, “Judaism” is one such maxim. In its many variants, “Judaism” has framed debates among Christians over fundamental philosophical and political questions: about the relationship between free will and the fixed laws of nature; the world of things and the world of spirit; the sword of justice and the shield of faith; the rights of scripture, sovereigns, and their subjects.

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