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Did Schleiermacher Go Overboard? Reading The Star of Redemption and The Christian Faith Together

Department of Religious Studies, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620, USA
Religions 2022, 13(6), 473;
Submission received: 28 March 2022 / Revised: 10 May 2022 / Accepted: 17 May 2022 / Published: 24 May 2022


Rosenzweig’s principal interlocutors are commonly taken to be idealist and existentialist philosophers. Rosenzweig’s disparaging remarks at the beginning of Part Two of The Star of Redemption regarding modern theology and its progenitor, Friedrich Schleiermacher, strengthen the view that the Star is best understood in a philosophical context. However, a close reading of the Star alongside Schleiermacher’s main doctrinal work, The Christian Faith, reveals surprising points of similarity on a wide range of topics. Furthermore, the points of contradiction between the two works can illuminate Rosenzweig’s contributions to modern theology.

1. Introduction

Franz Rosenzweig’s The Star of Redemption is, by all accounts, a challenging work. Scholars often find it helpful to explicate the Star by appealing to the writings of other philosophers, either Rosenzweig’s idealist predecessors or contemporary thinkers who purportedly share his philosophical commitments. This comparative analysis of the Star has had a predominantly philosophical orientation with scholars devoting far less attention to the relationship between Rosenzweig’s thought and Christian theology. This gap in Rosenzweig research is surprising given the evident influence of Christian theology on Rosenzweig’s thought. Paul Mendes-Flohr forcefully summarizes Rosenzweig’s debt to Christianity in the following terms:
Not only was his theology laced with terminology drawn from the Catholic and Protestant lexicon, his conception of the Synagogue as a liturgical community realizing redemption proleptically in the here and now, within the midst of unredeemed time, is manifestly an appropriation of the cardinal Christian theological doctrine that through Christ the promised eschaton—the final redemptive stage of history—is in essence realized, albeit not yet historically. Similarly, his view of revelation as an experience of divine love that engenders among those open to its transformative power agape—the solicitous love of one’s neighbor—is clearly of Christian provenance.
According to Mendes-Flohr, two fundamental features of Rosenzweig’s philosophical system—his notions of revelation and redemption—bear a strong imprint of Christian theology. One means of illuminating Rosenzweig’s complex relationship to Christian theology is to compare his thought to that of Friedrich Schleiermacher, the founder of modern theology.1 Rosenzweig invokes and criticizes Schleiermacher at a crucial juncture in the Star, the introduction to Part Two. Rosenzweig’s discussion gives the impression that he is leaving Schleiermacher behind, but a close reading of the Star alongside Schleiermacher’s major dogmatic work, The Christian Faith, reveals Rosenzweig’s deep engagement with Christian theology.2 Reading Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher together not only sheds light on numerous difficulties in Rosenzweig’s thought, it also amplifies his unique contributions to modern theology through his departures from Schleiermacher.
This brings us to the question posed in the title of this article, why think that Schleiermacher has gone overboard and what does that even mean? In Part One of the Star, Rosenzweig establishes the irreducibility of the three “elements” of his system: God, the World, and the Human Person. Rosenzweig focuses Part Two of the Star on Creation, Revelation, and Redemption. Part Two begins with an introduction titled “On the Possibility of Experiencing Miracles” in which Schleiermacher’s theology plays a prominent role. The introduction opens with the declaration that “if miracle is really the favorite child of belief, then its father has been neglecting his paternal duties badly, at least for some time. For at least a hundred years the child has been nothing but a source of embarrassment to the nurse which he had ordered for it—for theology.”3 While it takes Rosenzweig several pages before he directly addresses Schleiermacher, it is evident that Schleiermacher’s theology hangs over the entire introduction and, by extension, all of Part Two. Rosenzweig may or may not have the Glaubenslehre, as The Christian Faith is commonly referred to, specifically in mind with his comment that miracles have been an embarrassment to theology for the last century, but the period of 100 years aligns with the publication of Schleiermacher’s dogmatic work in 1821–1822. Indeed, Schleiermacher clearly rejects miracles in the Glaubenslehre and sees his dogmatics as an aid to those who hold a similar skepticism.4 There is, then, good reason to think that the guiding question that Rosenzweig poses over Part Two regarding the possibility of miracles is directed squarely at Schleiermacher.
Rosenzweig first mentions Schleiermacher following a discussion in which he charts philosophical enlightenments from antiquity to the modern period. According to Rosenzweig, the modern enlightenment is directed “against the gullibility of experience,” an attitude that calls into question the possibility of miracles.5 He goes on to argue that the rise of pietism introduced a notion of belief that is disconnected from history and that this development led to a heightened interest in the notions of progress and morality. It is at this point that Rosenzweig invokes Schleiermacher in a passage that demands close examination:
Thus the enduring value of the past was denied and the ever present experience of religious emotion was anchored in the eternal future of the moral world. In Schleiermacher this whole system found its classical representative. All subsequent theology has had to come to terms with him. His basic position has hardly been shaken. But in detail this intellectual construct was still quite questionable. True, it was possible to heave the past overboard, overburdened as it was with miracles and therefore now with doubts; without this ballast, it was possible to bring the ship of belief, already dangerously rammed, safely across the ocean of the present—or so one could delude oneself.
Rosenzweig’s comments about Schleiermacher are a confounding mix of praise and critique. He depicts Schleiermacher as the overarching figure of modern theology whose theological program remains secure even if the details are problematic. Rosenzweig’s discussion of Schleiermacher is also striking for its visual imagery. He compares Schleiermacher’s theology and its abandonment of history and miracles to a ship that has jettisoned its cargo. As Rosenzweig goes on to imagine,
But who was to say that what was dropped, really dropped? The past was far from obliging theology by really drowning. Rather it fastened itself to the outside of the vessel from which it had been thrown, and thus burdened it even more heavily than before when it had been suitably stowed away in the interior. The theology of the nineteenth century had to become historical theology not because of Schleiermacher but in spite of him—and yet again for the sake of Schleiermacher. For it was here that the durability of his fundamental idea, which after all had become the fundamental idea of the age, was in the last analysis decided.
Like many of Schleiermacher’s readers, Rosenzweig depicts Schleiermacher’s “fundamental idea” as reducing religion to subjective feeling. The idea that religious consciousness is best understood as the feeling of absolute dependence on God is the central theme of the first part of Schleiermacher’s Glaubenslehre. In §4 of the Glaubenslehre, Schleiermacher states:
The common element in all howsoever diverse expressions of piety, by which these are conjointly distinguished from all other feelings, or, in other words, the self-identical essence of piety, is this: the consciousness of being absolutely dependent, or, which is the same thing, of being in relation with God.
For Rosenzweig, reducing religion to the emotions of the individual severs religion from its historical roots.9 In his view, Schleiermacher’s effort to suppress history precipitated the development of historical theology and the crisis of historicism.10 Considering that Rosenzweig never mentions Schleiermacher again in the Star, one could conclude that Schleiermacher has gone overboard just as the history that Rosenzweig accuses him of renouncing. In fact, as I intend to demonstrate, there are many points of commonality in Rosenzweig’s and Schleiermacher’s work that strongly encourage further research.
One factor adding to the difficulty of Rosenzweig’s thought is the rhetorical voice he often uses in his writing. Prominent examples of Rosenzweig’s rhetorical argumentation that have confounded his interpreters include his declarations in his essay “The New Thinking” that the Star is not a Jewish book or that one could profitably read the Star from back to front.11 I would like to suggest that Rosenzweig’s assault on Schleiermacher in the introduction to Part Two of the Star is another instance in which his mode of argumentation obscures the main contours of his thought. One way to shed light on difficulties like this is to look to Rosenzweig’s more ephemeral writing in his journal, letters, and course notes. In journal entries between 19–21 September 1910, Rosenzweig copies passages from Schleiermacher’s early work, On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers, published in 1799.12 The passages Rosenzweig cites include some of Schleiermacher’s harshest criticisms of Judaism. For instance, Rosenzweig repeats Schleiermacher’s claim in the fifth speech that Judaism is a “mummy” and that it has no relevance for understanding Christianity. He goes on to transcribe a passage in which Schleiermacher asserts that Judaism has “died” and its “sacred books were closed”; thus ending God’s relationship with the Jewish people.13 Remarkably, in a letter to his cousin Hans Ehrenberg five days later, Rosenzweig reports that he is reading Schleiermacher’s Speeches and that he has “taken much from them.”14 He notes Schleiermacher’s effort to synthesize the theoretical and the practical in the religious life and his refusal to reduce religion to morality. Rosenzweig goes on to criticize Schleiermacher for maintaining a view of religion that is too internal to the individual rather than grounded in religious action. He concludes his comments on Schleiermacher by saying that God must redeem humanity not in history but as the God of religion (also see Mendes-Flohr 1991, p. 304, n. 68). In a second letter to Hans Ehrenberg written over a decade later and shortly after the publication of the Star, Rosenzweig writes “Believing knowledge and wise belief—that is truly a new conception [Bild]. The outlines of which one can first recognize in Schleiermacher as in [Hermann] Cohen.”15 Rosenzweig’s letters and journal entries clearly indicate that his attitude toward Schleiermacher’s thought is more favorable than his explicit comments in the Star suggest.
Rosenzweig’s critique of Schleiermacher in the Star centers on Schleiermacher’s elevation of religious emotion via the feeling of “absolute dependence” as a strategy to minimize the supernatural conception of God and the miracles that accompany such a notion.16 The claim that Schleiermacher internalizes religion and makes it the domain of the individual has been a common refrain among his critics, but scholars of Schleiermacher view this reading as a caricature that badly distorts his theology.17 Devoting the first part of the Glaubenslehre to absolute dependence has misled Schleiermacher’s critics into thinking that this notion summarizes his theology.18 Brian Gerrish writes that “Schleiermacher assumed that the readers of his introduction and first part would supply from their own Christian consciousness what his exposition held momentarily in abeyance. From the critics’ reception of his first edition, he realized that he had assumed too much.”19 While Rosenzweig might be in good company in his misrepresentation of Schleiermacher’s theology, what his attack on Schleiermacher conceals is that the Glaubenslehre is fundamentally about redemption. As Walter E. Wyman, Jr. succinctly asserts, “Sin and redemption constitute the heart of Schleiermacher’s understanding of Christianity.”20 To appreciate how distortive Rosenzweig’s subjectivizing presentation of Schleiermacher’s theology is consider that Wyman goes on to say that “Schleiermacher’s major innovation is to show that sin and redemption can only be properly understood if the communal character of both is made central.”21 For Rosenzweig, the image of the star of redemption represents the redemptive work of the Jewish and Christian communities in which Judaism dwells in the center of the star and Christianity functions as the rays spreading God’s redemptive power. Rosenzweig’s attack on Schleiermacher in the introduction to Part Two of the Star helps to motivate his argument, but it also conceals important parallels between the Star and the Glaubenslehre.
It hardly needs to be said that The Star of Redemption and the Glaubenslehre are long and complex works. What strategy would facilitate an effective comparison of the two books and what should be the goal of such an endeavor? Starting with the latter, I do not seek to establish that Rosenzweig relied upon or was directly responding to Schleiermacher’s Glaubenslehre. A variety of reasons compel me to avoid making strong claims about Schleiermacher’s influence on Rosenzweig. Arguments regarding influence are difficult to prove and, to my mind, quickly become boring and reductive. Rosenzweig, himself, mentions one complicating factor for such an exercise: Schleiermacher’s theology had a profound impact on all subsequent 19th and early 20th century Protestant theology in Germany.22 Schleiermacher’s influence on Rosenzweig could just as easily be indirect as it is direct. A preoccupation with influence would also draw our attention away from Rosenzweig’s creative contribution to modern theology. In other words, we have as much to learn from Rosenzweig’s departure from Schleiermacher as we do from identifying shared concerns the two thinkers might have had. The goal I intend to aim for in my comparison is to establish as decisively as possible that key elements of Rosenzweig’s thought can best be understood by looking at similar discussions in Schleiermacher. My method for making that case is relatively straightforward. I will examine Schleiermacher’s approach to central themes in the Star including what Rosenzweig refers to as the “elements” of his system—God, World, and the Human Person—as well as revelation and redemption and Judaism and Christianity.

2. Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig’s Elements

2.1. God

Beginning my analysis with God is beneficial in that while there are important commonalities between Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher on the subject of God, the two thinkers also adopt opposing theological positions that help distinguish their projects. At the end of his lengthy introduction to the Glaubenslehre, Schleiermacher makes a methodological point that speaks equally well to Rosenzweig’s approach in the Star. Schleiermacher says, “the doctrine of God, as set forth in the totality of the divine attributes, can only be completed simultaneously with the whole system.”23 For Rosenzweig, it is a fundamental principle that our knowledge of God comes to full expression in the relationships between the elements, God, World, and the Human Person. He formulates this point perspicuously in Understanding the Sick and the Healthy, where he says that “no sooner has the thought ‘God is Something’ occurred to common sense than the thought is left behind. Common sense expresses this thought and, as it does so, learns that God cannot be spoken of unless, at the very same moment, a bridge is constructed to man and the world”24. What motivates both thinkers to argue that knowledge of God is only possible within a philosophical or theological system is a shared concern about the power and limits of theological language. For instance, Schleiermacher also wrestles with expressing the “something” of God when he says that “For, in that a divine activity is posited, something may be posited, unknown and perhaps not clearly conceivable, but by no means simply nothing”25.
Rosenzweig’s and Schleiermacher’s approaches to God’s attributes, particularly divine love, reveal important similarities in their theologies. In §50 of the Glaubenslehre, Schleiermacher makes a crucial qualification to human knowledge of God’s attributes: “All attributes which we ascribe to God are to be taken as denoting not something special in God, but only something special in the manner in which the feeling of absolute dependence is to be related to Him.”26 Restricting knowledge of God’s attributes to what arises in the feeling of absolute dependence and shifting the reference of the divine attributes from God to human consciousness are significant limitations on theological language.27 It is clear from what follows that Schleiermacher seeks to protect divine simplicity. He goes on to say about the divine attributes:
For if as such they present a knowledge of the Divine Being, each one of them must express something in God not expressed by the others; and if the knowledge is appropriate to the object, then, as the knowledge is composite, the object too must be composite. Indeed, even if these attributes only asserted relations of the Divine to the world, God Himself, like the finite life, could only be understood in a multiplicity of functions; and as these are distinct one from another, and relatively opposed one to another, and at least partly exclusive one of another, God likewise would be placed in the sphere of contradiction.
According to Schleiermacher, even if we were able to gain knowledge of the divine attributes, they could not “express the Being of God in itself.”29 Schleiermacher’s reticence about the divine attributes even extends to God’s unity and existence.30 Toward the end of the Glaubenslehre, Schleiermacher appears to relax his position when he addresses the topic of God’s love. In §166 he writes “The divine love, as the attribute in virtue of which the divine nature imparts itself, is seen in the work of redemption.”31 The subsequent proposition allows Schleiermacher to more fully align his views of divine love and the divine attributes. The proposition simply states: “§167. God is love.” Schleiermacher explicates the proposition by saying that “Love and wisdom alone, then, can claim to be not mere attributes but also expressions of the very essence of God.”32 In language that resonates deeply with Rosenzweig’s thought, Schleiermacher adds that “it turns out that we have the sense of divine love directly in the consciousness of redemption, and as this is the basis on which all the rest of our God-consciousness is built up, it of course represents to us the essence of God.”33
While there is good reason to resist conflating Rosenzweig’s and Schleiermacher’s views on the divine attributes, the points of similarity regarding divine love are intriguing. As I will discuss shortly, love is central to Rosenzweig’s concepts of revelation and redemption. Famously, the full content of revelation according to Rosenzweig is God’s command “Love Me!”34 In discussing God’s love, Rosenzweig claims that “love is not an attribute, but an event, and no attribute has any place in it.”35 Rosenzweig defends this position by arguing that “revelation knows of no ‘all-loving’ father.”36 It is noteworthy that with this assertion Rosenzweig connects the divine attributes with the religious consciousness in a manner similar to Schleiermacher. Rosenzweig goes on to argue that God’s love moves and grows according to the divine will, a position that echoes Schleiermacher’s linking of God’s love and redemption. Similar to Schleiermacher’s argument that love is more than a “mere attribute,” Rosenzweig also believes that love reveals something essential about God. He writes:
But love is not ‘but simile’; it is simile in its entirety and its essence; it is only apparently transitory: in truth, it is eternal. The appearance is as essential as the truth here, for love could not be eternal as love if it did not appear to be transitory. But in the mirror of this appearance, truth is directly mirrored.
For Rosenzweig, love is the access point to that which is eternal and true, namely God.
While Rosenzweig’s account of divine love shares themes with Schleiermacher’s theology, there is also much that distinguishes Rosenzweig’s theology from Schleiermacher’s. I will address many of these points in the ensuing discussion, so I will only mention a few differences between the two thinkers here. Schleiermacher, as I have noted, restricts our theological language to what arises in the feeling of absolute dependence. Rosenzweig also adopts a phenomenological approach, but it does not define his philosophical system in the same way that it does Schleiermacher’s theology. Consider, for instance, Rosenzweig’s rejection of negative theology at the beginning of Part One/Book One of the Star, regarding which he says, “This theology dismembered and abolished the existing assertions about God’s ‘attributes,’ until the negative of all these attributes remained behind as God’s essence. Thus God could be defined only in his complete indefinability.”38 In contrast to a negation of knowledge of God, which Rosenzweig associates with atheism and mysticism, he instead declares his goal in the Star on opposing terms: “We seek God, and will presently seek world and man, not as one concept among many, but rather for itself, dependent on itself alone, in its absolute actuality (if the expression is not subject to misunderstanding); in other words, precisely in its ‘positiveness’.”39 Rosenzweig is, here, announcing his intention to pursue Schelling’s positive philosophy. Wolfdietrich Schmied-Kowarzik has claimed that the Star of Redemption “without reference to Schelling’s late philosophy would be inconceivable” (Schmied-Kowarzik 2006, p. 50) and that the Star is “probably the most significant carrying forth of Schelling’s positive philosophy that we currently possess” (Schmied-Kowarzik 1991, p. 56).
One example of Schelling’s influence on Rosenzweig can illustrate the important theological differences between Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher. In The Ages of the World, Schelling identifies God with three potencies: 1. The first potency reflects God’s transcendence and aseity; 2. The second potency reflects the outpouring of divine love; 3. The third potency is the synthesis of the previous two. For Schelling, these aspects of the divine being “reciprocally exclude each other.”40 That Rosenzweig adopts a position similar to Schelling’s on the divine attributes is evident when he says in Part Three of the Star: “There is an alternating current oscillating between God’s attributes; one cannot equate him with the one or the other; he is, rather, One precisely in the constant equalization of apparently opposite ‘attributes’.”41 Whereas Schleiermacher resists talk of divine attributes because they embroil God in contradictions, Rosenzweig adopts a metaphysical approach to God’s attributes that reveals contradictions within the divine being.42 Although the contradictions inherent in God will not be fully resolved until the eschaton, Rosenzweig attributes to the Jewish people the capacity to unify God. Speaking of the contradiction between God’s power and God’s love he says, “In the inner warmth of the Jewish heart, this contradiction is melted down in the invocation of God as ‘our God and God of our fathers.’ This God is indistinguishably the God of creation and of revelation.”43 While Rosenzweig may be continuing the project of modern theology as set out by Schleiermacher, he does so in a fashion that seeks to alter its course by defending the human capacity to know God and by proposing a highly dynamic conception of the divine-human relationship.

2.2. World

Among Rosenzweig’s elements—God, World, and the Human Person—the world is, in many ways, the most difficult and ambiguous concept. As I just noted, Rosenzweig states at the beginning of the Star that he seeks God, World, and the Human Person in their positivity. In the case of the world, that positivity is in flux as Rosenzweig identifies the world with becoming, regarding which he says: “God has been from the first, man became, the world becomes.”44 The fact that the world becomes indicates that it is not yet perfect. As Rosenzweig says, “The world is created in the beginning not, it is true, perfect, but destined to have to be perfected.”45 Rosenzweig understands the perfection of the world in terms of the unfolding of Creation–Revelation–Redemption. Insofar as Jews and Christians have distinct experiences of redemption for Rosenzweig, they also have distinct experiences of the world. Before attempting to identify those differences, it is worthwhile to point out how different Schleiermacher’s starting point is to the world. In §57 of the Glaubenslehre, Schleiermacher asserts that “The universality of the feeling of absolute dependence includes in itself the belief in an original perfection of the World.”46 Schleiermacher’s insistence on the original perfection of creation lies at the heart of his efforts to modernize theology, in that such a view supports a perfect God who conforms to human reason and experience and who does not violate modern scientific or philosophical commitments.
Despite the gulf between conceiving the world as being perfect at its creation and a world that is only perfected in redemption, there are noteworthy similarities in Schleiermacher’s and Rosenzweig’s views of the world. While Schleiermacher chooses to forego consideration of “any temporal condition of the world”, he does acknowledge that some perfections are in the process of becoming. He says:
As to what in the sphere of experience we call perfection or imperfection, the former is simply that which by means of the original perfection has already come to pass, the latter that which has not yet come to pass by the same means; both taken together, however, are the perfection which is coming to pass.
The most important perfection that is coming into being for both Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig is the union of God and the world in redemption. Schleiermacher says the following about that process:
If now we take man first of all purely on his inner side, as a self-active being in whom God-consciousness is possible—that is, as spirit; then, from this point of view, his bodily side, which is not the man himself, belongs originally to this material world into which the spirit enters. Only gradually does it become for the spirit instrument and means of expression—as later, mediately through it, all other things likewise become instrument and means of expression—but first of all and primarily it mediates the stimulating influences of the world upon the spirit. Thus the whole of this aspect of the original perfection of the world can be summarily expressed by saying that in it there is given for the spirit such an organism as the human body in living connexion with all else—an organism which brings the spirit into contact with the rest of existence.
For Schleiermacher, the cultivation of religious consciousness unites God and world and brings the world to its ultimate perfection. That Rosenzweig adopts a similar position is evident in his claim that “The creation of the world need reach its conclusion only in its redemption.”49
In setting forth their accounts of the redemptive transformation of the world, Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher both privilege the divine–human relationship over the world. Schleiermacher makes clear that when he speaks of the perfection of the world his claim is religious not cosmological.50 He goes on to add that “Man’s original perfection is primarily meant rather in relation to God, i.e., to the presence in him of the God-consciousness, and his endowments relatively to the world belong here only in so far as they awaken the God-consciousness.”51 Rosenzweig also affirms the priority of God and humanity when he says, “man, as well as God, already are, the world becomes.”52 The world becomes for Rosenzweig through the spread of the Kingdom of God, a redemptive process that Rosenzweig understands as “the reciprocal union of the soul with all the world.”53
While similarities in Rosenzweig’s and Schleiermacher’s views on the status of the world are intriguing, the concept “world” plays a more dynamic, and perhaps divisive, role in Rosenzweig’s thought. Without preempting my discussion of revelation and redemption, it is important to note that Jews and Christians have vastly different experiences of the world, according to Rosenzweig. Rosenzweig claims that Jews live outside of history with no land, no secular language, and no secular law. In his estimation, the Jews are an “eternal people” who do not participate in the “growth” of the world. “The eternal people”, he says, “already reposes in the house of life.”54 The sacrifice Jews make for their redeemed existence is “the loss of the unredeemed world.”55 To be redeemed in this world, according to Rosenzweig, entails living as if “the world were finished.”56 In contrast, Christians are still upon the way, spreading God’s redemption to the far corners of the world. Despite commonalities in Rosenzweig’s and Schleiermacher’s understanding of the world, for Rosenzweig the concept of “world” also plays a crucial role in his defense of Jewish election, a distinctly Jewish contribution to modern theology.

2.3. Human Person

As with the world, Schleiermacher’s insistence that God creates humanity in a state of perfection appears to establish a fundamental difference between his and Rosenzweig’s thought. For the purposes of Schleiermacher’s theology, it is critically important that God creates humans perfectly and that they retain that status. Schleiermacher says on this point:
In the knowledge of the elements of this original perfection as present in everyone we find a justification for the original demand that the God-consciousness should exist continuously and universally; and human nature, repeating itself identically through heredity in every human being, is seen to be sufficient for its realization.
In contrast, Rosenzweig’s theological anthropology in the Star is complex and includes the personality, the character, the self, and the soul. In his view, it is as “self” that the human person is “created in the image of God.”58 Rosenzweig’s self resembles Leibniz’ “windowless monad” in that it is “utterly self-contained.”59 “The self”, Rosenzweig says, “has no relations, cannot enter into any, remains ever itself.”60 His decision to identify the divine image with an aspect of the human that exists in complete isolation becomes understandable when one considers the first stage of his system. The system of the Star begins with God, World, and the Human Person existing independently of each other. As Rosenzweig asserts at the end of Part One, “Not man alone but God too and so too the world are each of them a solitary self, each staring fixedly into itself and knowing of no Without.”61 The starting point of Schleiermacher’s theological system is the religious consciousness, which he claims is a universal human capacity. For Rosenzweig, it is God’s revelation that secures the relationship between God, World, and the Human Person. Despite initiating their accounts of the human being from such different starting positions, there are notable points of similarity between Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher on the subject of theological anthropology.
In Rosenzweig’s system, the occluded self is not primed for God-consciousness as with Schleiermacher; the self can only be opened by a revelatory encounter initiated by God. Rosenzweig describes the transformative nature of the revelatory experience of God in the following terms:
[T]he relationship between God and the soul ever remains the same. God never ceases to love, nor the soul to be loved. The peace of God is granted to the soul, not the peace of the soul to God. And God gives himself to the soul, not the soul, here, to God. Indeed, how could it? It is only, after all, in the love of God that the flower of the soul begins to grow out of the rock of the self.
Clearly, Rosenzweig’s depiction of God as a personal agent who acts directly upon the religious practitioner is a significant departure from Schleiermacher’s theology and the trajectory he set for modern theology.63 Schleiermacher says in the Glaubenslehre that it is a “maxim everywhere underlying our presentation, that the beginning of the Kingdom of God is a supernatural thing, which, however, becomes natural as soon as it emerges into manifestation.”64 Rosenzweig was undoubtedly correct when he identified Schleiermacher with the abandonment of miracles and Rosenzweig followed through on proposing a theological alternative in which God remains an agent capable of interceding in human experience. Acknowledging the profound differences in Schleiermacher’s and Rosenzweig’s theological positions helps to appreciate the points of commonality. In Rosenzweig’s system, one of the principal effects of the revelatory encounter with God is that the enclosed self becomes capable of genuine communication. As he says, “under the love of God, the mute self came of age as eloquent soul.”65 Schleiermacher adopts a similar position when he discusses how Christ’s redemptive activity unlocks our human capacity for God-consciousness in the feeling of absolute dependence:
For if the feeling of absolute dependence, which was previously in bondage, has been set free only by redemption, the facility with which we are able to graft the God-consciousness on the various sensuous excitations of our self-consciousness also springs solely from the facts of redemption, and is therefore a communicated facility.
It is not just that the religious consciousness that Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig associate with redemption is linked to our discursive powers, it is that this experience is fundamentally transformative. According to Schleiermacher, “the former personality may be slain and human nature, in vital fellowship with Christ, be formed into persons in the totality of that higher life.”67 He expands on this point a few pages later in terms that bear directly on the subject of redemption:
Hence, just as the redemptive activity of Christ brings about for all believers a corporate activity corresponding to the being of God in Christ, so the reconciling element, that is, the blessedness of the being of God in Him, brings about for all believers, as for each separately, a corporate feeling of blessedness. Therein, too, their former personality dies, so far as it meant a self-enclosed life of feeling within a sensuous vital unity, to which all sympathetic feeling for others and for the whole was subordinated. But what remains as the self-identity of the person is the peculiar way of apprehending and perceiving, which as individualized intelligence so works itself into the new common life that relatively to this factor also the activity of Christ is person-forming, in that an old man is put off and a new man is put on.
While there are significant theological differences in the mechanics of the redemptive experience for Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher, at the human level their systems share a similar phenomenology in the transformation of the isolated self into a participant in communal life. This similarity will become more striking as I turn to discuss revelation and redemption more directly.

3. Revelation and Redemption

Rosenzweig says at the end of Part 1 of the Star that “The mystery of the elements [God, World, and the Human Person] cannot be brought out into the open except by and at the curvature of the orbit.” In Part 2 of the Star, Rosenzweig uses the concepts Creation, Revelation, and Redemption to trace the orbit of the elements and so disclose the relations between God, World, and the Human Person. While a full comparative analysis of the Star and the Glaubenslehre would have to include creation, here I will restrict my discussion to revelation and redemption. Apart from the merits of concision, a few reasons can be brought in support of narrowing the focus to revelation and redemption. In Rosenzweig’s essay “The New Thinking,” he calls Part 2/Book 2, which addresses the topic of revelation, the “core book” [“Herzbuch”] of the Star.69 While revelation functions as the heart that propels Rosenzweig’s system, the title The Star of Redemption is not a misnomer. At the beginning of Part 2 of the Star, Rosenzweig says of revelation that it “is founded on creation in cognition, but directed toward redemption in volition.”70 Rosenzweig’s system moves toward redemption, but progress toward that goal requires an inextricable connection between revelation and redemption. For Schleiermacher, it is clearly redemption that is the central element in his dogmatic system. In §11 of the Glaubenslehre, Schleiermacher defines Christianity as a “monotheistic faith, belonging to the teleological type of religion” and he goes on to distinguish Christianity from other religions “by the fact that in it everything is related to the redemption accomplished by Jesus of Nazareth.”71 Shortly thereafter, in §13, Schleiermacher equates the “appearance of the Redeemer in history” with “divine revelation.”72 In one of the final propositions of the Glaubenslehre, Schleiermacher identifies the world as “the scene of redemption” and describes the redemptive process as “the absolute revelation of the Supreme Being.”73 For both Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher, then, revelation and redemption go hand in hand.
One significant parallel in Schleiermacher’s and Rosenzweig’s thought is that both thinkers adopt non-traditional accounts of revelation that draw a delicate balance between individual and communal experience. Schleiermacher says early in the Glaubenslehre in §6 that “the religious [fromme] self-consciousness…leads necessarily in its development to fellowship or communion,” by which he means participation in a “Church.”74 When Schleiermacher goes on to address the topic of revelation, his effort to negotiate individual and communal experience is apparent. He writes:
Accordingly we might say that the idea of revelation signifies the originality of the fact which lies at the foundation of a religious communion, in the sense that this fact, as conditioning the individual content of the religious emotions which are found in the communion, cannot itself in turn be explained by the historical chain which precedes it.
Revelation represents the religious emotions that form and preserve a religious community. Insofar as revelation is located within an ongoing religious communion, the possibility of revelation persists. At the same time, Schleiermacher’s linking of revelation and emotion renders revelation an experience of the individual. Part of Schleiermacher’s motivation for construing revelation on experiential terms is that he rejects the view that revelation possesses cognitive content. He refuses the idea that revelation “operates upon man as a cognitive being” because to do so makes revelation “originally and essentially doctrine.”76 He goes on to say that “if a system of propositions can be understood from their connexion with others, then nothing supernatural was required for their production.”77 When Rosenzweig also proposes an account of revelation that highlights individual experience, the non-traditional nature of these ideas comes to the fore. In Judaism, revelation is typically identified with God’s self-disclosure at Mt. Sinai, the giving of the ten commandments, and later the Torah. It is then striking that Rosenzweig conceives of revelation as a divine–human encounter in which the individual hears the command “Love me!”78 Similar to Schleiermacher’s refusal to identify revelation with doctrine, Rosenzweig says that God’s command to “Love me!” is unique because it is purely commandment (Gebot) and not law (Gesetz). According to Rosenzweig, “Only the lover [God] can and does say: love me!—and he really does so. In his mouth the commandment to love is not a strange commandment; it is none other than the voice of love itself. The love of the lover has, in fact, no word to express itself other than the commandment.”79 One must not, however, push the parallels between Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig on revelation too far. Whereas Schleiermacher’s categories of cognition and emotion remain distinct, Rosenzweig allows for a more fluid relationship between commandment and law. He extrapolates on this point in the following terms: “God’s first word to the soul that unlocks itself to him is ‘Love me!’ And everything which he may yet reveal to the soul in the form of law therefore without more ado turns into words which he commands it ‘today.’ It turns into execution of the one initial commandment to love him.”80 While there is more to say about the status and function of the law (commandments) in Rosenzweig’s thought, it should be clear that he is charting his own path within modern theology.81
What transpires directly after God’s command in Rosenzweig’s account of revelation is also of significant interest from the perspective of Schleiermacher’s Glaubenslehre. According to Rosenzweig, the individual who receives God’s command to love God is immediately overcome by an awareness of his or her own sin. Rosenzweig says, “And thus the soul which God summons with the command to love is ashamed to acknowledge to him its love, for it can only acknowledge its love by acknowledging its weakness at the same time, and by responding to God’s ‘Thou shalt love’ with an ‘I have sinned.’”82 In the “Index of Jewish Sources” that Nahum Glatzer assembled for The Star of Redemption, he identifies the phrase “I have sinned” with the confession of the high priest in the liturgy for Yom Kippur.83 One could find further justifications for connecting knowledge of God with an awareness of sin in Judaism, such as in the ordering of the blessings of the Amidah.84 However that may be, a reader of the Glaubenslehre cannot but help to think of Schleiermacher in Rosenzweig’s associating religious consciousness with an awareness of sin. It is a theme that runs throughout the Glaubenslehre that the redemptive experience immediately and forcefully discloses one’s status as a sinner. For instance, Schleiermacher says that “with the acceptance of such a redemption there is always conjoined a backward look to sin as prior to it.”85 He amplifies this point further on in the Glaubenslehre where he says, “we can be cognizant of the absolute power of the God-consciousness only as we are cognizant of the state of sin as removed by redemption.”86
Schleiermacher uses the language of “regeneration” and “conversion” to talk about the transformation of the individual that occurs in the redemptive experience.87 While those terms have a strong Christian connotation, they point to something important in Rosenzweig’s thought as well.88 Redemption in Judaism is commonly understood in dipolar historical terms of God’s past and future redemptive activity: God redeemed Israel from Egypt in the past and will redeem Israel again with the coming of the messiah. On occasion, Judaism has also given expression to the idea of redemption as an achievable spiritual state in the present, i.e., actualized redemption. One important point of similarity between Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig is that both thinkers embrace actualized accounts of redemption.89 Schleiermacher’s reasons for adopting an actualized account of redemption are complex. From one perspective, it would limit God’s redemptive power if human sin remains after regeneration.90 Another line of argumentation is that Jesus represents an ideal in which we all participate and not just a historical development out of Judaism.91 Whatever Schleiermacher’s motivations, he makes clear from the beginning of the Glaubenslehre that his theological anthropology allows for actualized redemption when he says, “as certainly as Christ was a man, there must reside in human nature the possibility of taking up the divine into itself.”92 Schleiermacher describes the means by which Christ acts on the individual in the following terms: “His higher perfection must work in a stimulating and communicative way upon the nature which is like His own, in the first place to bring to perfection the consciousness of sinfulness by contrast with itself, and then also to remove the misery, by assimilation to itself.”93 Regeneration for Schleiermacher is not progressive, Christ’s perfection is transmitted to the practitioner immediately.94 Regeneration is the “divine act of union with human nature.”95 There is no reward beyond regeneration as it is “blessedness in sonship.”96 It is important to note the connection between the redeemed individual and the church. Speaking of the church as the “corporate life founded by Christ,” Schleiermacher says that “the gracious state of the redeemed, again, is simply their activity just in this corporate life.97
While Schleiermacher’s account of redemption assumes an actualized form throughout, the actualized component of Rosenzweig’s views on redemption are more difficult to flesh out. After the revelatory encounter with God, Rosenzweig says that the person’s soul will “now and forevermore…remain in God’s proximity” and that a “protective circle” surrounds it.98 Later he speaks of the recipient of a revelatory experience as being “wholly redeemed out of his every peculiarity and selfishness into created image of God.”99 Schleiermacher attributes a similar persistence to the divine–human relationship when he says that “faith is a permanently enduring state of mind.”100 Rosenzweig, like Schleiermacher, argues that redemptive experience leads to participation in a religious community. Rosenzweig says:
He whom God’s love has chosen hears God’s command, takes the yoke of the mission upon his shoulders, and sets out for the land that God will show him, thus losing his own will, his friends, house and home. But in so doing he leaves the charmed circle of revelation for the realm of redemption and he enlarges the I, surrendered in revelation, to the all-encompassing We, and thus all that is his own returns to him—now, however, no longer as his property, no longer as his home, his friends, his relations, but as the property of the new congregation which God points out to him; its distress becomes his distress, its will his will, its We his I, its not-yet his-Withal.
Similar to Schleiermacher’s claim that it is only through the regenerative power of redemption that one acquires their “real personality,” revelation for Rosenzweig allows the isolated self to give birth to the soul.102 This process leads the individual inexorably into the religious community. It is in Rosenzweig’s discussion of Judaism as a liturgical community in Part Three of the Star, where his notion of actualized redemption reaches its full development. There, Rosenzweig depicts the Jewish people as an “eternal people”103 who are self-consciously aware of having arrived at “the goal.”104 As I previously noted, he says that “the eternal people already reposes in the house of life.”105 I will return to this point shortly when I analyze Schleiermacher’s and Rosenzweig’s depictions of Judaism and Christianity.
One additional similarity in Schleiermacher’s and Rosenzweig’s approaches to redemption bears mentioning before identifying several important differences in their accounts. The transformative experience of revelation and redemption instills in the individual a strong desire to establish the Kingdom of God. Schleiermacher says on this point, “To be continuously and receptively open to the influence of Christ, and continuously active in will for His Kingdom, is the life-process of the new man.”106 Further on, Schleiermacher adds that “with regeneration there is always imparted a strong will for the Kingdom of God.”107 For Rosenzweig, too, belief in the possibility of the Kingdom of God and the desire to bring it about are the central concerns of the redeemed individual and the redemptive community. Rosenzweig says:
The believer in the kingdom uses the term ‘progress’ only in order to employ the jargon of his time; in reality he means the kingdom. It is the veritable shibboleth for distinguishing him from the authentic devotee of progress whether he does not resist the prospect and duty of anticipating the ‘goal’ at the very next moment. The future is no future without this anticipation and the inner compulsion for it, without this ‘wish to bring about the Messiah before his time’ and the temptation to ‘coerce the kingdom of God into being’; without these, it is only a past distended endlessly and projected forward.
Rosenzweig identifies the Kingdom of God with the “reciprocal union of the soul with all the world,” a process he believes is achieved through communal prayers of thanksgiving.109 Along these lines, he says, “In short, eternity must be accelerated. It must always be capable of already coming ‘today.’ Only thereby is it eternity. If there is no such force, no such prayer as can accelerate the coming of the kingdom, then it does not come in eternity; rather—it eternally does not come.”110
Despite the continuity in Rosenzweig’s and Schleiermacher’s accounts of redemption, there are also surprising differences. For one thing, Schleiermacher holds that redemption is constitutive of Christianity and that other religious traditions see “no need of redemption.”111 If Rosenzweig is engaging Schleiermacher and subsequent Christian theologians in his account of redemption, his position is marked by a significant shift in values and belief that privileges Judaism over Christianity. Several phenomenological and theological differences in their theories of redemption can further illuminate Rosenzweig’s contribution to modern theology. For Schleiermacher, the autonomy of the individual requires the individual to accept Christ’s redemptive activity with a “free assimilative receptivity.”112 Rosenzweig describes the revelatory encounter with God in more coercive terms; the divine command to love God breaks through our consciousness and all we can do is accede to it and admit our sinfulness. Curiously, Schleiermacher does not think that every Christian must undergo a life-altering conversion experience. He says that “the idea that every Christian must be able to point to the very time and place of his conversion is accordingly an arbitrary and presumptuous restriction of divine grace, and can only cause confusion.”113 Rosenzweig is more ambiguous on this point. The system he constructs in the Star seems to require that individuals have a revelatory experience. It hardly needs to be said that Rosenzweig’s position accords poorly with reality. Schleiermacher is often caricatured as reducing religion to the feeling of absolute dependence, that is to religious experience. As it turns out, despite his own criticisms in this regard, Rosenzweig is more Schleiermacherian than Schleiermacher on this point. Along these lines, Schleiermacher details how the Church has a preparatory influence on the redemptive experience of the practitioner.114 Rosenzweig’s reader is left in the dark on this process and must seemingly await God’s revelatory command. God in Rosenzweig’s thought is a personal agent, a position that Schleiermacher labors to avoid. For Schleiermacher, regeneration cannot be understood as God’s personal call to the individual. To hold such a view, in Schleiermacher’s opinion, is to make God’s will “arbitrary” in a manner this is unbefitting a perfect being.115 Rosenzweig has no such compunction and affirms God’s caprice at several points in his system, including his account of the unfolding of God’s love. A final difference is that the commandments Jesus cites in Matthew 22:37f to love God with all “your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself” are, according to Schleiermacher, “not really commands”.116 Rosenzweig demurred on this point in the strongest possible terms and in doing so he opened new possibilities for modern theology.

4. Judaism and Christianity

For both Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig, healthy religious experience leads to participation in a religious community. Schleiermacher’s assertion that “there is no redemption which does not establish a new common life” is a position Rosenzweig would heartily embrace.117 As with the other topics I have surveyed, Schleiermacher’s and Rosenzweig’s accounts of Judaism and Christianity reflect important points of commonality as well as significant differences. As a way of conclusion, I will briefly highlight what I take to be notable similarities and divergences in their representations of the two religions.
According to the dipolar account of redemption that is prominent in Judaism, redemption is a divine activity that has occurred in the past when God rescued the Israelites from Egypt and that will happen again in messianic times. Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig hold an alternative view of redemption as a process that begins as an individual experience, but blossoms through participation in the redemptive work of a religious community.118 While Schleiermacher acknowledges the possibility that other religious traditions may be “on the same level of development” as Christianity, he strongly affirms the “exclusive superiority of Christianity.”119 As I noted at the outset, Schleiermacher’s attitude toward Judaism was often quite negative. In the Glaubenslehre, he calls Judaism a form of “Fetichism” and claims that it is “almost in process of extinction.”120 From the perspective of Christianity, the Old Testament is a “husk” and “whatever is most definitely Jewish has least value.”121 Schleiermacher claims that the Jewish conception of God is “gloomily fearful” and he associates it with a childlike view.122 Of course, Jewish law produces a consciousness of sin123 and lacks the power of the spirit.124 Rosenzweig would obviously reject Schleiermacher’s presentation of Judaism on these topics, but that does not preclude further points of agreement in their descriptions of a redemptive community.
Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig envision their respective redemptive communities as reflecting or participating in the structure of the divine. For Schleiermacher, the “Christian Church, animated by the Holy Spirit, is in its purity and integrity the perfect image of the Redeemer”.125 Rosenzweig adopts a similar view of Judaism by associating Judaism with the “Kingdom of God” and with eternity. It is here that Rosenzweig’s concept of actualized redemption plays out at the communal level. He says that “An existence which has once merged into the kingdom cannot drop out again; it has entered the once-and-for-all; it has become eternal.”126 Toward the end of the Star, Rosenzweig says, “The Jew sanctified his flesh and blood under the yoke of the law, and thereby lives constantly in the reality of the heavenly kingdom.”127 As I noted above, the Jewish people, according to Rosenzweig, are an “eternal people” who live as if the “world were finished.”128 There is a further structural similarity between Schleiermacher’s and Rosenzweig’s conceptions of the redemptive community beyond identifying it with the divine. Schleiermacher uses three pairs of binary oppositions to describe Christianity: Inner/Outer, Invisible/Visible, and Militant/Triumphant. The first distinction between the “inner” and “outer” Church represents the difference between those who have been redeemed (the inner church) and those upon whom preparatory grace is still acting (the outer church).129 The distinction between the “invisible” and “visible” churches parallels the previous distinction between inner and outer churches: members of the invisible church are the “regenerate” and the members of visible church have been called and have heard the gospel, but are not yet redeemed. The invisible church is an “undivided unity” and is “infallible”, whereas the visible church does not possess these qualities.130 What the invisible church lacks is a “definite form.”131 Schleiermacher’s distinction between the “Church militant” and the “Church triumphant” is just like it sounds. The “Church militant” is still in the process of “conquer[ing] the world” and the “Church triumphant” will emerge when the “worldly has now been wholly absorbed in it, and no longer exists as its opposite.”132 Rosenzweig’s account of the relationship between Judaism and Christianity appears to appropriate and reverse Schleiermacher’s categories. Like the inner and invisible churches, the Jewish people live in a redeemed state in the present. As Rosenzweig says, “only we [i.e., Jews] live a life in the eternity of redemption and thus can celebrate it. Christianity is only on the way.”133 Furthermore, the Jewish people possess an “inner unity” that “burns” and “shames” the Christian who is still engaged in the task of converting the world.134 Judaism is, in some sense, the “Church triumphant”, for Rosenzweig, and Christianity is the “Church militant” as it is tasked with the growth of the Star of Redemption through the conversion of the world.
A few further similarities bear mentioning. According to Schleiermacher, “the Spirit is represented as a true unity through which the multitude of Christians also become a unity.”135 Rosenzweig also seeks to unify the Jewish people, but he appeals to blood rather than spirit. He argues that “only a community based on common blood feels the warrant of eternity warm in its veins even now.”136 He goes on to say of the blood community that “it does not have to hire the services of the spirit; the natural propagation of the body guarantees its eternity.”137 Beyond blood and spirit, what unites a redemptive community for Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig is prayer, particularly communal prayer directed toward the Kingdom of God. On this point, Schleiermacher says, “there can be no Prayer in the Name of Jesus except in connection with the things of His Kingdom.”138 Schleiermacher and Rosenzweig see communal prayer as the essential means of redeeming the world and establishing the Kingdom of God. Schleiermacher addresses prayer and the world in §146, where he states, “The right prevision which it befits the Church to have of what will be salutary for it in its coexistence with the world naturally becomes Prayer.”139 The failure to pray, according to Schleiermacher, can only be explained by a loss of “interest in the Kingdom of God” or an absence of “God consciousness.”140 For Rosenzweig, the ability to pray “is the last thing achieved in revelation.”141 While the individual who has experienced revelation prays for the coming of the Kingdom of God, that prayer remains ineffective so long as it is not uttered communally. In Rosenzweig’s account of communal prayer, the theological differences between he and Schleiermacher are, once again, pronounced. Rosenzweig writes:
The cultic prayer stakes everything on the one plea for the advent of the kingdom; all other pleas, though otherwise nearer at hand, are only incidentally prayed together with and for the sake of this one plea. It shows love that the eternal is the nighest and thus releases the irresistable force of the love of neighbor upon it; thereby it compels the redemptive advent of the eternal into time. God can do no other; he must accept the invitation.
While Schleiermacher also links love of neighbor, prayer, and the Kingdom of God, he desists from the idea that prayer affects God.143 On the subject of prayer influencing God, Schleiermacher says that it is his “primary and basal presupposition that there can be no relation of interaction between creature and Creator.”144 A “theory of prayer” that holds that we can influence God can only be described as “a lapse into magic.”145 Rosenzweig takes the opposite view that communal prayer does compel God’s presence and accelerates the coming of the Kingdom of God.146
Many differences in Schleiermacher’s and Rosenzweig’s representations of Judaism and Christianity are, perhaps, best understood as reversals rather than fundamental differences.147 For instance, when Schleiermacher declares that Christianity is “the most perfect of the most highly developed forms of religion,”148 that prize would go to Judaism in Rosenzweig’s thought as it has already arrived at the “goal.” Similarly, where Schleiermacher elevates Christianity for its teleological orientation, Rosenzweig uses that point to argue that Christianity “ever remains—on the way.”149 Or, where Schleiermacher says only in Christianity “has redemption become the central point of religion,” Rosenzweig asserts that only Judaism currently lives in a state of redemption.150 These reversals are noteworthy as a transfiguration of value and belief that allows Rosenzweig to make a contribution to modern theology on Judaism’s behalf, but they do little to advance our understanding of the system Rosenzweig constructs in the Star. One of Rosenzweig’s reversals that is more intriguing has to do with the relationship between the Christian Church and the world. Schleiermacher says that the Christian Church understood as the Kingdom of God “will ever endure in antithesis to the world.”151 “Those who are to form the Church,” he says, “must be separated out from the world.”152 Rosenzweig conceives of the Jewish people on similar terms. The Jewish people exist outside of history as they have no land, secular language, or secular law. If anyone is antithetical to the world, it is, in Rosenzweig’s estimation, the Jewish people. These worldly sacrifices are crucial to the redemptive task of the Jewish people as he understands it: “Only the eternal people, which is not encompassed by world history, can—at every moment—bind creation as a whole to redemption while redemption is still to come.”153 Rosenzweig’s decision to place the Jewish people outside of history is perplexing given how much Jews have suffered at the hand of history. The catastrophic decimation of European Jewry after Rosenzweig’s death strains his formulation in ways he could never have imagined. If Rosenzweig’s presentation of the Jewish people being outside history could be properly traced to a reversal of Christian doctrine, that would provide additional justification for amending that part of Rosenzweig’s system.

5. Conclusions

The fact that a 20th century Jewish meditation on redemption shares themes and patterns of thought with the definitive Christian statement on that topic from the previous century is hardly surprising. Given Schleiermacher’s status as the founder of modern theology and Rosenzweig’s acknowledgment of his enduring influence, it would be more surprising if there were not points of contact between the two thinkers. Keeping Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher in conversation is important for reasons that warrant further consideration. The rhetorical nature of Rosenzweig’s arguments occasionally conceals as much as it reveals. The adversarial stance he adopts toward Schleiermacher in the introduction to Part 2 lends the impression that Rosenzweig is leaving Schleiermacher behind and that the reader can do the same. The dearth of scholarship on Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher suggests that scholars have assumed that Schleiermacher went overboard along with the cargo of history that Rosenzweig accuses him of jettisoning. I hope the foregoing analysis of the Glaubenslehre and the Star puts that idea to rest. As the quotation form Paul Mendes-Flohr at the beginning of the paper indicates, many of Rosenzweig’s most central theological ideas resonate deeply with Christian formulations of those topics. Schleiermacher should be at the top of the list of Rosenzweig’s Christian interlocutors, someone he read and lauded in his student years and whose thought he continued to affirm after the publication of the Star.
These reflections lead to the ethics of dialogue that inform Rosenzweig’s thought and so thoroughly shape Paul Mendes-Flohr’s life and work. While it would be an intellectual and spiritual disservice to allow Schleiermacher’s influence on the Star to remain underappreciated, conflating the two thinkers would be equally egregious. On my reading, Paul Mendes-Flohr’s research is guided by an extreme caution about claims of influence. There is considerable justification for this position. As I mentioned at the outset, claims of influence are difficult to prove and are often reductive. In reading Rosenzweig and Schleiermacher together, I do not mean to suggest that Rosenzweig had the Glaubenslehre in mind as he composed the Star. As Rosenzweig says about Schleiermacher in the introduction to Part 2, “all subsequent theology has had to come to terms with him.”154 From Rosenzweig’s perspective, all theological reflection composed after Schleiermacher directly or indirectly engages his thought. While it is important to know the impact of Schleiermacher’s watershed theological innovations on Rosenzweig’s thought, over-emphasizing Schleiermacher’s influence would conceal Rosenzweig’s unique and important contributions to modern theology. Rosenzweig may share terms and formulations with Schleiermacher, but he places those ideas in service to a radically different theological vision. Schleiermacher speaks of the redemptive process as the supernatural becoming natural. In Rosenzweig’s philosophical and theological system, it would be more accurate to say the opposite, that the natural is becoming supernatural; ultimately, everything will be absorbed into the All of God. Schleiermacher cannot serve as the key to unlock The Star of Redemption, because there is no such key. That is what makes the Star such a beguiling work that continues to capture our attention. What is left is to pursue a contextual understanding of the work that takes Rosenzweig’s commitment to dialogue seriously, an effort that is supremely modeled in the care and precision of Paul Mendes-Flohr’s research.155


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Jacqueline Mariña notes in her introduction to The Cambridge Companion to Friedrich Schleiermacher that Schleiermacher is “known as ‘the father of modern theology’” (Mariña 2005, p. 1). In the same volume, Terrence N. Tice refers to Schleiermacher as the “reputed founder” of modern theology (Tice 2005, pp. 307–17, 309). David F. Ford in his introduction to The Modern Theologians: An Introduction to Christian Theology Since 1918 identifies Schleiermacher as “the grandfather of those who attempt to correlate or integrate faith with modernity” (Ford and Muers 2005, p. 9). I prefer the founding metaphor over the patrilineal one but realize that it is equally imprecise.
Schleiermacher’s collected works are published as (Schleiermacher 1980, 2008, 2016). For a discussion of Rosenzweig’s reading of Schleiermacher’s early work On Religion: Speeches to its Cultured Despisers (see Dober 2010, pp. 160–76). For a discussion of Schleiermacher in the development of Rosenzweig’s thought and in particular his essay “Atheistic Theology” (see Barba 2013). See also (Rubinstein 1999).
The Star of Redemption is the second volume in Rosenzweig’s collected works (Rosenzweig 1976). I will cite the German and English editions and quote from William Hallo’s translation (Rosenzweig 1970). Stern, p. 103/Star, p. 93.
That Schleiermacher rejects the supernatural and the miraculous are points he returns to throughout the Glaubenslehre. For instance, he says: “On the whole, therefore, as regards the miraculous, the general interests of science, more particularly of natural science, and the interests of religion seem to meet at the same point, i.e., that we should abandon the idea of the absolutely supernatural because no single instance of it can be known by us, and we are nowhere required to recognize it.” Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:285/The Christian Faith, p. 183. For Scheiermacher’s comments regarding the Glaubenslehre as an aid to those who reject the miraculous see Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:99/The Christian Faith, p. 421. On Schleiermacher’s rejection of miracles see (Gerrish 1987, p. 127). See also Schleiermacher’s discussion of the abandonment of miracles in his second letter to Dr. Lücke. Schleiermacher’s letters to Dr. Lücke regarding his revisions for the second edition of the Glaubenslehre are collected in (Schleiermacher 1981, pp. 61–65; 1990a, pp. 345–52). For a discussion of miracles in Schleiermacher’s Speeches see (Schleiermacher 1984, pp. 185–326, 239–41; 1988, pp. 48–50).
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 109/Star, p. 98.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 111/Star, p. 100. See Rubinstein, An Episode of Jewish Romanticism, p. 51. Johannes Zachhuber paints a more complex picture of Schleiermacher’s influence when he says that Schleiermacher’s theology “offers the most sustained reflection about the place and role of theology within the modern university, his thoughts are the necessary backdrop to all subsequent developments. But they do not provide the blueprint. Schleiermacher’s theology is both uniquely influential and strangely neglected, rejected and misunderstood throughout the nineteenth century” (Zachhuber 2013, p. 12).
Rosenzweig, Stern, pp. 111–12/Star, pp. 100–1. Johannes Zachhuber says the following about Schleiermacher’s relationship to historicism: “Accepting theology’s function for the Church as its organizing principle, he [Schleiermacher] offers a powerful model for its disciplinary unity. Yet he seems oddly unconcerned about the consequences of accepting wissenschaftlich methodology for theological work; occasionally he seems to hint that the ecclesiastical pole would serve to mitigate potentially critical conclusions, for example about the canon, but overall he seems to have underestimated the enduring force of historicism in the undoing of all traditional belief claims.” Zachuber, Theology as Science in Nineteenth-Century German, p. 17.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:32/The Christian Faith, p. 12.
In a letter to Rosenzweig collected in Judaism Despite Christianity, Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy urged Rosenzweig to see Schleiermacher’s “absolute dependence” as a form of “illumination” akin to revelation (Rosenstock-Huessy 1969, p. 120).
An anonymous reviewer rightfully pointed out that Rosenzweig’s critique of Schleiermacher on the relationship between history and theology fails to take account of the crucial role of historical theology in Schleiermacher’s Brief Outline of the Study of Theology collected in (Schleiermacher 1990b, 1998).
Franz Rosenzweig, “Das neue Denken”, GS 3, pp. 139–61. There are two translations of “The New Thinking”: (Rosenzweig 1999a, 2000). I quote in this essay from the translation by Franks and Morgan. A third example of the misdirection caused by Rosenzweig’s occasionally ironic tone is his comment in “The New Thinking” that Part One of the Star is “a reductio ad absurdum and, at the same time, a rescue [Rettung] of the old philosophy.” Rosenzweig, GS 3:142-3/“The New Thinking”, pp. 114–15. Many scholars have preferred to see Part One of the Star as a destruction of idealism and not as its philosophical salvation.
Schleiermacher, Schriften aus der Berliner Zeit 1796-1799 [KGA 1:2], pp. 186–326 (Schleiermacher 1988).
GS 1:1, p. 110. For a discussion of Schleiermacher’s attitudes toward Judaism (see Meyer 1988, pp. 66–7). See also: Rubinstein, An Episode of Jewish Romanticism, pp. 7–8; Dober, “Das Wir der religiösen Gemeinschaft”, p. 161 n. 6; (Friedlander et al. 2004). In his second letter to Dr. Lücke, Schleiermacher says that “This conviction that living Christianity and its progress do not need any support from Judaism is as old as my religious consciousness itself.” Schleiermacher, KGA 1:10, 354/On the Glaubenslehre, 66. Richard Crouter says in his notes to On Religion that “The portrayal of Judaism as no longer a living tradition was dominant in Berlin Enlightenment (Haskalah) Jewish circles in which Schleiermacher moved.” Schleiermacher, On Religion, p. 113, n. 12. In support of this view, Crouter cites: (Pickle 1980).
GS 1:1, p. 112. Hans Martin Dober also highlights Rosenzweig’s positive remarks about Schleiermacher in this letter. Dober, “Das Wir der religiösen Gemeinschaft”, p. 165.
GS 1:2, p. 720. Rosenzweig’s admiration for his teacher Hermann Cohen is well documented. In a letter to Ernst Simon, Rosenzweig says that “Cohen was the first and only living professor of philosophy whom I took seriously.” GS 1:2, p. 808. In his “Paralipomena”, Rosenzweig also enigmatically refers to his near conversion experience as an “Enstchleiermacherisierung”. GS 3:93. See (Görtz 2008, p. 267). Idem, (Görtz 1998). For an alternative reading see (Pollock 2014, p. 233 n. 47). On Hermann Cohen’s views of Schleiermacher see (Bienenstock 2018, p. 170; Zank 2000, pp. 11, 41, 326–7).
Andrew Dole says on this point: “Schleiermacher’s ambition was to propose an arrangement for the constructive appropriation of the deliverances of the unimpeded scientific investigation of religion by theology and to promote a willingness on the part of adherents of Christianity to understand themselves and their religion as fully integrated into the natural order” (Dole 2010, pp. 32–33.)
Edward Farley has claimed that Schleiermacher is “of all major European theologians the most caricatured” (Farley 1997, p. 9). Cited in Dole, Schleiermacher on Religion and the Natural Order, p. 15. In his second letter to Dr. Lücke, Schleiermacher says the following about the claim that he reduces Christianity to the feeling of absolute dependence: “Is there any phrase which expresses less what is essential to my work than that I deduce Christianity from the feeling of dependence? Words are, of course, used arbitrarily, but it would have to be said at least that I deduce all religions from this feeling. And, if one wants to continue using language in this way, one would have to say that I deduce Christianity from the feeling of the need for redemption, which is indeed a particular form of the feeling of dependence.” Schleiermacher, KGA 1:10, 360-1/On the Glaubenslehre, p. 70.
Ernest Rubinstein adopts such an approach when he writes: “The problem of theology, ever since Schleiermacher, was that the experience of feeling it made so central had no ground or warrant. It was pure subjectivity, without any claim to be taken seriously by anyone who had not already surrendered to it.” Rubinstein, An Episode of Jewish Romanticism, 54. Later Rubinstein adds “It was the experiential theology of Schleiermacher that rested content with the private, subjective perspective, and renounced all grounding in objectivity.” Ibid., p. 208. Benjamin Pollock also emphasizes subjective experience in his reading of Schleiermacher when he refers to “Schleiermacher’s grounding of Christianity in personal faith experience.” Pollock, Franz Rosenzweig’s Conversions, 19. Other presentations of Schleiermacher’s thought that emphasize feeling over reason include: Bienenstock, Cohen und Rosenzweig, pp. 117–18; Zank, Idea of Atonement, p. 23.
Gerrish, “Nature and the Theater of Redemption”, p. 128. See also Dole, Schleiermacher on Religion and the Natural Order, pp. 21–4, 71–100. In his second letter to Dr. Lücke, Schleiermacher notes that he gave serious consideration to reorganizing the Glaubenslehre such that Part One on absolute dependence would come at the end of the work. Schleiermacher, KGA 1:10, 337-45/On the Glaubenslehre, pp. 55–60.
(Wyman 2005, p. 129). Brian Gerrish notes that “it is with the magnificent vision of the world as the theater of redemption that Schleiermacher’s Christian Faith comes to its end.” Brian Gerrish, “Nature and the Theater of Redemption”, 135. Dietrich Korsch makes a similar assessment of the importance of redemption in the Glaubenslehre: “Schleiermacher followed in the tradition of the Reformation by concentrating the whole of Christian doctrine on the process of transition, namely redemption.” (Korsch 2010, p. 181). Paul T. Nimmo also identifies redemption as the central feature of Schleiermacher’s theology: “Schleiermacher’s opening assumption in his theology of redemption is that the holiness of God—the divine causality—renders every human being in the state of needing redemption, and moreover ordains redemption for them all (§83.2, p. 343). This person-forming, and indeed world-forming, activity of redemption is a continuation of the one divine act of creation (§100.2, p. 427).” (Nimmo 2003, p. 188). Julia A. Lamm argues that “the Glaubenslehre could be said to be a Gnadenlehre, since everything in it is an explication of the Christian experience of having been redeemed by Christ, which is an experience of grace” (Lamm 2008, p. 135). Lamm goes on to say that “Grace for Schleiermacher is nothing less than our very redemption through Christ”. Ibid., p. 140.
Wyman, Jr., “Sin and Redemption”, p. 130. See also Nimmo, “The Mediation of Redemption”, p. 190.
On Schleiermacher’s reception see (Tice 2005).
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:97/The Christian Faith, p. 128. Johannes Zachhuber writes on this sentiment in Schleiermacher’s thought more widely that: “Schleiermacher is deeply sceptical about the ability of the human mind to construct a system of thought capable of explaining reality in its fullness—hence his opposition to Fichte and Hegel and his advocacy of a dialogical epistemology as first philosophy. Knowledge and hence science are fundamentally dependent on communication and exchange; they are always perfectible and never complete.” Zachhuber, Theology as Science in Nineteenth Century Germany, p. 14.
(Rosenzweig 1964, p. 100; 1999b, p. 90). Rosenzweig makes the same point about all of the elements at the end of Part One of the Star where he writes: “So too the three elements of the universe can be recognized, each in its inner potentiality and structure, in its number and rank, only when they enter into a real and unambiguous relationship with one another which is removed from the maelstrom of possibilities.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 94/Star, p. 86. For more on Rosenzweig and common sense see (Fisher 2016).
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:316/The Christian Faith, p. 205.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:300/The Christian Faith, p. 194.
On the limits of our thinking about God in Schleiermacher’s thought see (Welz 2008, pp. 27–30, 47).
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:302/The Christian Faith, p. 195–96.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:305/The Christian Faith, p. 198.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:351–52/The Christian Faith, p. 229–30.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:500/The Christian Faith, p. 727.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:506/The Christian Faith, p. 731–32.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:506/The Christian Faith, p. 732.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 197/Star p. 177.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 183/Star, p. 164.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 183/Star, p. 164
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 224/Star, p. 201. Nonetheless, Rosenzweig is adamant that love is not an attribute: “As conceived by belief, then, divine love does not, like light, radiate in all directions as an essential attribute. Rather it transfixes individuals—men, nations, epochs, things—in an enigmatic transfixion. It is incalculable in its transfixion except for the one certainty that it will yet transfix also what has not yet been transfixed.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 183/Star, p. 164.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 25/Star, p. 23.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 25/Star, p. 23.
(Schelling 2000, p. 11). It is worth pointing out that Schleiermacher explicitly rejects such a view in the letters he wrote to Dr. Lücke regarding the reception of the first edition of the Glaubenslehre and the challenges of revising the work. There Schleier-macher says: “With regard to my Christology as a whole, I am content to refer anyone to what my friend Nitzsch has testified on my behalf. But this God-consciousness which is supposedly God himself, of which I have said nothing, and this double God, one unchangeable and one subject to time, of which I have said nothing, and these three moments which I allegedly distinguish in the idea of God, of which I have said nothing, all of these misunderstandings and many others of this sort are related to my supposed pantheism, even though they are not consistent with one another.” Schleiermacher, KGA 1:10, 327–28/On the Glaubenslehre, p. 47. For more on Rosenzweig and Schelling see (Fisher 2012).
Rosenzweig, Stern, pp. 387–88/Star, p. 349.
Contradiction within God and without is only overcome with the eschaton: “Only at the end of all history there looms the prospect of a kingdom free of struggle and contradiction in which God will be all-in-all.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 446/Star, p. 401.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 448/Star, p. 403.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 99/Star, p. 90.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 250/Star, p. 224.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:357/The Christian Faith, p. 233.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:359/The Christian Faith, p. 235.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:364/The Christian Faith, p. 238.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 132/Star, p. 119.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:362/The Christian Faith, p. 237.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:362/The Christian Faith, p. 237.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 244/Star, p. 219.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 260/Star, p. 233.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 417/Star, p. 374.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 460/Star, p. 414.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 467/Star, p. 420.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:374/The Christian Faith, p. 247.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 75/Star, p. 69.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 73/Star, p. 68.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 86/Star, p. 79.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 92/Star, p. 84.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 189/Star, p. 169.
See Wyman, “Sin and Redemption”, p. 144. See also Dober, “Das Wir der religiösen Gemeinschaft”, p. 174.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:110–11/The Christian Faith, 430. As just a few examples of how far Schleiermacher pushes his effort to construct a rational theology fit for modern sensibilities he says in §99 that “The facts of the Resurrection and the Ascension of Christ, and the prediction of His Return to Judgment, cannot be laid down as properly constituent parts of the doctrine of His Person.” Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:95/The Christian Faith, p. 417. There are many points throughout the Star where Rosenzweig is clearly moving in the opposite direction, that is he is not naturalizing the supernatural he is making the natural divine. One such instance is his discussion of love in his analysis of the Song of Songs where he writes: “Love simply cannot be ‘purely human.’ It must speak, for there is simply no self-expression other than the speech of life. And by speaking, love already becomes superhuman, for the sensuality of the word is brimful with its divine supersense.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 224/Star, p. 201.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 221/Star, p. 198.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:395–96/The Christian Faith, p. 263. In a preceding comment, Schleiermacher says “self-communicating piety is as old as the self-propagating human race. This assumption is implied in the consciousness that piety is a universal element of human life.” Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:380/The Christian Faith, p. 252. On the relationship between religion and communication in Schleiermacher’s thought see Dole, Schleiermacher on Religion and the Natural Order, pp. 84–85.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:108/The Christian Faith, p. 428.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:114/The Christian Faith, p. 433.
Rosenzweig, GS, pp. 3, 151/“The New Thinking”, p. 125. Perhaps there is a suggestion of this idea as well in the Star where Rosenzweig says: “And so too we will henceforth proceed from real word to real word, not from one species of word to another as we did in describing creation. This accords with the wholly real employment of language, the center-piece as it were of this entire book, at which we have here arrived.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 194/Star, p. 174.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 123/Star, p. 110. A few pages prior to this comment Rosenzweig says “The contact of revelation and redemption is of central importance to contemporary theology which therefore, to put it theologically, calls upon philosophy to build a bridge from creation to revelation on which this contact can take place.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 119/Star, p. 107.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:93/The Christian Faith, p. 52.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:106/The Christian Faith, p. 62.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:510–11/The Christian Faith, p. 735.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:53/The Christian Faith, p. 26.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:90/The Christian Faith, p. 50. On this passage see Mendes-Flohr, Divided Passions, p. 288.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:90/The Christian Faith, p. 50.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:90/The Christian Faith, p. 50.
Rosenzweig says regarding revelation: “For the soul, revelation means the experience of a present which, while it rests on the presence of a past, nevertheless does not make its home in it but walks in the light of the divine countenance.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 174/Star, p. 157. Further on in the Star, Rosenzweig adds that “revelation is of the present, indeed it is being-present itself.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 207/Star, p. 186.
Rosenzweig, Stern, pp. 196–97/Star, p. 176. Rosenzweig’s account of redemption does have a hint of Schleiermacher’s “absolute dependence”: “An awe compounded of humility and pride, together with a feeling of dependence and of being securely sheltered, of taking refuge in the arms of eternity—behold, is this not also love again? Only, to be sure, it is not the lover who reposes in that consciousness but the object of love. It is the love of the beloved that we are describing here. The object of love, then, knows itself borne by the love of the lover, and sheltered in it.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 188/Star, p. 168.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 198/Star, p. 177.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 200/Star, p. 179. Shortly thereafter Rosenzweig says that “the acknowledgment of belief originates in the acknowledgment of sin.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 202/Star, p. 181.
Rosenzweig, Star, p. 428.
(Birnbaum 1997, p. 85). See also BT Megilla 17b.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:396/The Christian Faith, p. 263.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:526–27/The Christian Faith, p. 352. For related comments see Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:410, 1:434–35, 1:457–58, 1:483, 2:107, 2:114/The Christian Faith, pp. 274, 290, 305, 323, 427, 433.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:168/The Christian Faith, p. 478.
Rosenzweig does say that each of the elements of his system undergoes its own “inner conversion [innere Umkehr].” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 193/Star, p. 173. For an extensive discussion of this topic see (Pollock 2009, pp. 181–257).
For an extended discussion of actualized redemption in Rosenzweig’s thought see (Fisher 2020). On Schleiermacher’s account of sin and redemption see Wyman, “Sin and Redemption”, p. 139. Korsch, “Dogmatics of Redemption”, p. 185. Nimmo, “The Mediation of Redemption”, pp. 189–90. Lamm, “Schleiermacher’s Treatise on Grace”, p. 137.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:501/The Christian Faith, p. 335.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:46/The Christian Faith, pp. 380–81.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:109/The Christian Faith, p. 64.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:29/The Christian Faith, p. 367.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:112/The Christian Faith, p. 431.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:208/The Christian Faith, p. 509.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:224/The Christian Faith, p. 521.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:32/The Christian Faith, p. 369.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 205/Star, p. 184.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 291/Star, p. 261.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:174/The Christian Faith, p. 482. Rosenzweig makes a similar assertion: “The love of the beloved has ‘ever’ inscribed above it; it is never greater than at the moment when it is kindled; it can never grow, but neither can it diminish. At most it can die: the beloved keeps faith.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 188/Star, p. 168f.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 279/Star, p. 251.
“It is only, after all, in the love of God that the flower of the soul begins to grow out of the rock of the self. Previously man had been a senseless and speechless introvert; only now is he—beloved soul.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 189/Star, p. 169.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 372/Star, p. 335.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 364/Star, p. 328. There is a large body of secondary literature discussing Rosenzweig’s idea that Judaism is “at the goal.” For a partial list of references see Fisher, “Actualized Redemption”, p. 185, n. 32.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 417/Star, p. 374. In the final pages of the Star, Rosenzweig says “So too a piece of redemption is here already really placed into the world, the visible world, and it becomes true that, seen from the world, revelation would actually already be redemption.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 466/Star, p. 419.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:222/The Christian Faith, p. 519.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:239/The Christian Faith, p. 532.
Rosenzweig, Stern, pp. 253–54/Star, p. 227.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 260/Star, p. 233.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 321/Star, p. 288. Two additional points of similarity in Schleiermacher’s and Rosenzweig’s account of the kingdom of God are the relation between redemption and love of neighbor and the processes by which the kingdom of God grows. On redemption, love of neighbor, and the kingdom of God Schleiermacher says: “Thus it is only the love in our good works that is pleasing to God, this being, in the will for the Kingdom of God, at once love to men and love to Christ and love to God; while at the same time it is Christ’s love working in and through us.” Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:224/The Christian Faith, pp. 520–21. Love of neighbor plays a central role in Rosenzweig’s thought. One comment that connects love of neighbor and the Kingdom of God is the following: “The cultic prayer stakes everything on the one plea for the advent of the kingdom; all other pleas, though otherwise nearer at hand, are only incidentally prayed together with and for the sake of this one plea. It shows love that the eternal is the nighest and thus releases the irresistable force of the love of neighbor upon it; thereby it compels the redemptive advent of the eternal into time. God can do no other; he must accept the invitation.” Rosenzweig, Stern, pp. 325–26/Star, p. 293. Schleiermacher speaks about the growth of the Kingdom of God in the following terms: “On the principle that the redeeming activity must lay hold of everything gradually, it is of no consequence that we should establish a technical rule for the exact how and why of this expansion. Rather, since at any one moment the redeeming activity is reaching out from the community to cover a far larger number than are at that time actually led to conversion, our starting-point must be a right grasp of the distinction between the converted and all the rest; to have this is to understand the beginnings of the Church.” Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:235/The Christian Faith, p. 529. Rosenzweig says the following about the growth of the Kingdom of God: “True, the man enlightened in prayer would like to adduce the kingdom of heaven forcibly, before its appointed time. But the kingdom of heaven will not be coerced: it grows. And thus the magic power of the individual suppliant falls into the void if it strays beyond the nighest.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 302/Star, p. 271.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:397/The Christian Faith, p. 264.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:25/The Christian Faith, p. 371. Schleiermacher rejects the possibility that the practitioner would be passive in the conversion experience. See Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:190/The Christian Faith, p. 495. What Schleiermacher’s “free assimilative receptivity” amounts to is a challenging issue if one accepts the identification of Schleiermacher as a determinist. See Dole, Schleiermacher on Religion and the Natural Order, pp. 35–69, 148–49.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:180/The Christian Faith, p. 487. See Wyman, “Sin and Redemption”, p. 144.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:204–5/The Christian Faith, p. 506.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:200/The Christian Faith, p. 503.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:227/The Christian Faith, p. 523.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:222/The Christian Faith, p. 519.
Paul T. Nimmo describes the individual and communal aspects of Schleiermacher’s account of redemption in the following terms: “Schleiermacher essentially details the divine scheme of redemption twice over: first for the individual within the community; and second for the community comprised of individuals. However, for Schleiermacher, this distinction is not divisive: he argues that for the believer, being drawn into living fellowship with Christ, being drawn into the fellowship of believers, and having a share in the Holy Spirit ‘must simply mean one and the same thing’ (§124.1, p. 575).” Nimmo, “The Mediation of Redemption”, p. 195.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:63/The Christian Faith, p. 33. On the possibility of truth in other religions see Gerrish, “Nature and the Theater of Redemption”, p. 123.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:70/The Christian Faith, p. 37.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:106/The Christian Faith, p. 62.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:182/The Christian Faith, p. 489.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:417/The Christian Faith, p. 279.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:338/The Christian Faith, p. 608.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:299/The Christian Faith, p. 578.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 250/Star, p. 224.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 460/Star, p. 413f.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 467/Star, p. 420.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:230/The Christian Faith, p. 525.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:430/The Christian Faith, p. 678.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:432/The Christian Faith, p. 680.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:457/The Christian Faith, p. 697.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 412/Star, p. 370. Ernest Rubinstein captures this point when he says: “The church acts on redemption’s behalf, but does not experience it.” Rubinstein, An Episode of Jewish Romanticism, p. 51.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 459/Star, p. 413.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:281/The Christian Faith, p. 563.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 332/Star, p. 299. In opposition to the eternal life that courses in Jewish veins, Rosenzweig conceives of Christianity as eternally on the way: “Eternal life and eternal way are as different as the infinity of a point and the infinity of a line. The infinity of a point can only consist of the fact that it is never erased; thus it preserves itself in the eternal self-preservation of procreative blood. The infinity of a line, however, ceases where it would be impossible to extend it, it consists of the very possibility of unrestricted extension. Christianity, as the eternal way, has to spread ever further.” Rosenzweig, Stern, pp. 378–79/Star, p. 341. It is worth pointing out that Schleiermacher makes a similar move to Rosenzweig’s theory of Jewish blood with the privileged redemptive status that he attributes to Christian children: “Christian children are already called in virtue of their standing in a natural and orderly relation to the working of divine grace.” Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:182/The Christian Faith, p. 489.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 332/Star, p. 299.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:313/The Christian Faith, p. 589.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:417/The Christian Faith, p. 668.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:418/The Christian Faith, p. 669.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 205/Star, p. 184. Rosenzweig goes on to add that “To be able to pray: that is the greatest gift presented to the soul in revelation.” Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 205/Star, p. 184.
Rosenzweig, Stern, pp. 325–26/Star, p. 293.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:224, 2:499/The Christian Faith, pp. 520–21, 726–27.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, pp. 422–23/The Christian Faith, p. 673.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:423/The Christian Faith, p. 673.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 321/Star, p. 288.
For similar points see Dober, “Das Wir der religiösen Gemeinschaft”, pp. 168–70.
Schleiermacher, Der christlich Glaube, 1:71/The Christian Faith, p. 38.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 459/Star, p. 413.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 1:99/The Christian Faith, p. 57.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:234/The Christian Faith, p. 528.
Schleiermacher, Der christliche Glaube, 2:241/The Christian Faith, p. 533.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 372/Star, p. 335.
Rosenzweig, Stern, p. 111/Star, p. 100.
The original version of this paper was my first submission to Paul Mendes-Flohr as a graduate student in 1996. The subject of the paper arose out of the serendipity of studying with Paul Mendes-Flohr and Brian Gerrish at the same time. I am grateful to both Professor Mendes-Flohr and Professor Gerrish for guiding me in a project that has stimulated my thought for two and a half decades. I would also like to express my appreciation to the editors of this issue, Claudia Welz, Christian Wiese, and Bjarke Mørkøre Stigel Hansen, for allowing me to return to this topic as a token of my gratitude to Paul Mendes-Flohr.


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Fisher, C. Did Schleiermacher Go Overboard? Reading The Star of Redemption and The Christian Faith Together. Religions 2022, 13, 473.

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