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Religions 2019, 10(2), 78;

Political Economy as a Test of Modern Judaism

Religious Studies, University of Kansas, 1300 Oread Ave, Lawrence, KS 66046, USA
Received: 14 December 2018 / Revised: 17 January 2019 / Accepted: 18 January 2019 / Published: 24 January 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Religion and Modern Jewish Thought)
Full-Text   |   PDF [203 KB, uploaded 24 January 2019]


According to a common narrative, Jews entered the modern world at a steep price. From an autonomous corporation, ruling themselves internally according to their own standards and law, Judaism became a “religion,” divested of political power and responsible only for the internal sphere of “faith” or belief. The failure of this project, in turn, gave rise to the sharp split between Jewish nationalism and religion-based conceptions of Judaism. Many modern Jewish thinkers sought to resolve this antinomy by imagining ways for Judaism to once again form the basis of a “complete life”. This essay seeks to challenge this narrative by examining the extent to which economics, another one of the “spheres” emerging together with modernity and often considered under the same broadly Weberian process of rationalization, ever truly formed part of the holistic, self-contained Jewish autonomous life for which modern thinkers expressed so much nostalgia. It will argue that rather than forming part of the internal world of Judaism and then being fragmented outward into a separate sphere under the pressure of modernity, the “economic sphere” was imagined and defined for the first time in modernity, and projected backwards into earlier eras. This projection was then taken as proof of Judaism’s ability to “be about everything,” whether in a religious or nationalist idiom. View Full-Text
Keywords: Judaism; modern Jewish thought; economics; political economy Judaism; modern Jewish thought; economics; political economy
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited (CC BY 4.0).

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Brody, S.H. Political Economy as a Test of Modern Judaism. Religions 2019, 10, 78.

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