Special Issue "The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 October 2018)

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Agata Bielik-Robson

Department of Theology and Religious Studies, the University of Nottingham, University Park, Nottingham, NG7 2RD, UK
Website | E-Mail
Interests: Modern Jewish Thought; Philosophical Theology; Modern Religious Heterodoxy; Marrano Tradition

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to invite you to participate in the special issue of the journal Religions: “The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity.”

What we call here the ‘Marrano phenomenon’ is still a relatively unexplored fact of modern Western culture: the presence of the borderline Jewish identity which avoids clear-cut cultural and religious attribution but nevertheless exerts significant influence on modern humanities. Our aim, however, is not a historical study of the Marranos (or conversos), i.e. mostly Spanish and Portguese Jews of the 15th and 16th century, who were forced to convert to Christianity, but were suspected of retaining their Judaism ‘undercover’: such approach already exists and develops within the field of historical research. We rather want to apply the ‘Marrano metaphor’ to explore the fruitful area of mixture and cross-over which allowed modern thinkers, writers and artists of the Jewish origin to enter the realm of universal communication – without, at the same time, making them relinquish their Jewishness which they subsequently developed as a ‘hidden tradition.’ What is of special interest to us is the modern development of the non-normative forms of religious thinking located on the borderline between Christianity and Judaism, from Spinoza to Derrida.

The ‘Marrano metaphor’ was for the first time used consciously by Hannah Arendt who, in her essay, “The Jew as Pariah: A Hidden Tradition,” compared the great European thinkers and writers of Jewish origin to the Marranos who were permitted to enter the realm of universality only on the condition of concealing their particular ‘bias.’ We, however, want to approach the ‘Marrano phenomenon’ in more affirmative manner. The main purpose of our ‘Marrano’ project is to offer a new view on modern religious culture, which can be accessed only via the Marrano perspective: a ‘Marrano modernity’ which transforms our approach to the problem of universal communication as well as the modern – secret, hidden, heterodox – life of religious traditions which survive in the process of secularization, although merely in the form of ‘traces.’ The ‘Marrano’ methodology will be particularly sensitive to the strategies of encryption and camouflage, involving a complex dialectic of, in Hayim Nachman Bialik’s formulation, ‘revealment and concealment’ due to which the ‘Marrano’ identity of the text is thus never a matter of constatation – it is always a matter of textual performance. The ‘Marrano’ methodology could thus be regarded as a part of the deconstructive hermeneutics which reveals the hidden contents in order to reconstruct the integral religious meaning of the work that does not belong to any fixed and established form of orthodoxy.

The project explores the dimensions of Jewish ‘hidden tradition’ in main thinkers of modernity in the systematic manner which has never been assumed before: starting from Jacques Derrida, who, in Circumfessions, openly claimed to be a ‘Marrano of French Catholic culture’ and then projecting the analogous claim on those who fit Arendt’s description of ‘concealed Jewishness.’ So far, there exists just few works dealing with the Marrano phenomenon as the important intellectual ferment of early modernity – most of all, Gershom Scholem’s essays on Marrano theology in The Messianic Idea in Judaism, as well as Yirmiyahu Yovel’s The Other Within – but the goal of the project is to expand these analyses on the whole modern period: from the 15th century up to nowadays. We believe that the ‘Marrano’ methodology will be able to shed a new light on the interpretation of the modern heterodox strains of Judeo-Christian religiosity: from Spinoza (perhaps, wrongly assumed to be the first modern atheist), through the Jewish variant of German Idealism (Salomon Maimon, Nathan Krochmal, Moses Hess, Theodor Adorno, Emil Fackenheim), up to the 20th century renaissance of messianism combining Jewish and Christian motives (Walter Benjamin, Franz Rosenzweig, Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben).

If you accept our invitation, the deadline for the submission will be the 30th of October 2018. Please, let us know if you are interested in contributing to the ‘Marrano’ special issue and if the deadline is acceptable to you.

This special issue of Religions has been supported by the NCN Opus 13 Grant: /The Marrano Phenomenon: The Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity/, registered in the OSF system as 2017/25/B/HS2/02901.

Yours Sincerely,
Prof. Dr. Agata Bielik-Robson
Guest Editor

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Keywords

  • Judeo-Christianity
  • Heterodoxy
  • Modernity
  • Philosophical Theology

Published Papers (13 papers)

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Open AccessArticle Concerning Some Marrano Threads in The Aesthetic Theory of Theodor W. Adorno
Religions 2019, 10(3), 173; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030173
Received: 11 January 2019 / Revised: 1 March 2019 / Accepted: 5 March 2019 / Published: 9 March 2019
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Abstract
This article is an attempt to re-read the magnum opus of Adorno’s philosophy, namely Aesthetic Theory, using an interpretative key offered by Agata Bielik-Robson’s book entitled Jewish Cryptotheologies of Late Modernity: Philosophical Marranos. This interpretative key, called by the Author The [...] Read more.
This article is an attempt to re-read the magnum opus of Adorno’s philosophy, namely Aesthetic Theory, using an interpretative key offered by Agata Bielik-Robson’s book entitled Jewish Cryptotheologies of Late Modernity: Philosophical Marranos. This interpretative key, called by the Author The Marrano Strategy implemented to Adorno’s late philosophy allows us to investigate the common points of Adorno’s theory of art criticism and modern Jewish thought. Therefore the main question of this text concerns the characteristics of Jewishness and messianicity (Scholem, Derrida) in Adorno’s Aesthetic Theory. The thesis that I am attempting to justify is as follows: the implementation of Marrano strategy to the modern art criticism redefines and reverses the relationship between the particular element and the universal domain. Consequently, this dialectical ‘appreciation’ of the particular establishes a common conceptual field for critical thinking and traditional, religious motifs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle Marranism as Judaism as Universalism: Reconsidering Spinoza
Religions 2019, 10(3), 168; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10030168
Received: 7 December 2018 / Revised: 18 February 2019 / Accepted: 3 March 2019 / Published: 7 March 2019
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Abstract
This essay seeks to reconsider the relation of the universal-rational ethos of Spinoza’s thought to the Jewish tradition and culture in which he was raised and socially situated. In particular, I seek to engage with two previous portrayals—specifically, those of Isaac Deutscher and [...] Read more.
This essay seeks to reconsider the relation of the universal-rational ethos of Spinoza’s thought to the Jewish tradition and culture in which he was raised and socially situated. In particular, I seek to engage with two previous portrayals—specifically, those of Isaac Deutscher and Yirmiyahu Yovel—that present Spinoza’s universalism as arising from his break from or transcendence of Judaism, where the latter is cast primarily (along with Christianity) as a historical-particular and therefore non-universal tradition. In seeking a potential source of Spinoza’s orientation, Yovel points Marrano culture, as a sub-group that was already alienated from both mainstream Judaism and mainstream Christianity. By contrast, I argue that there are key elements of pre-Spinoza Jewish-rabbinic conceptuality and material culture that already enact a profoundly universalist ethos, specifically in contrast to more parochialist or particularist ethical dynamics prevalent in the culture of Christendom at the time. We will see, furthermore, that the Marrano dynamics that Yovel fruitfully highlights in fact have much in common with dynamics that were already in place in non-Marrano Jewish tradition and culture. As such, we will see that Spinoza’s thought can be understood not only as manifesting a Marrano-like dynamic in the context of rational-philosophical discourse, but also as preserving a not dissimilar Jewish-rabbinic dynamic at the same time. This, in turn, will point to new possibilities for tracing this latter dynamic through the subsequent history of modern philosophy and modern Jewish thought. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle Benjamin’s Profane Uses of Theology: The Invisible Organon
Religions 2019, 10(2), 93; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020093
Received: 24 October 2018 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 27 January 2019 / Published: 2 February 2019
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Abstract
Invisible, but suggestive and fruitful; deprived of any reference to doctrine or ultimate assertive foundations, but nevertheless used in Benjamin like written images, crystallized as “images of thought”; as doctrinally mute as it is heuristically audible, Benjamin’s use of theology reminds us of [...] Read more.
Invisible, but suggestive and fruitful; deprived of any reference to doctrine or ultimate assertive foundations, but nevertheless used in Benjamin like written images, crystallized as “images of thought”; as doctrinally mute as it is heuristically audible, Benjamin’s use of theology reminds us of the ironical use that Jorge Luis Borges himself made of theology and metaphysics as part of his own poetic forms. As such, these images of thought are located both in the place of philosophical use and in the one of methodological cunning or Metis, across the various levels of the corpus: a metaphysics of experience, literary criticism, philosophy of language, theory of history and Marxism. Therefore, accepting that criticism (Kritik) is the visible organon and the object of Benjaminian philosophy, is not theology, then, its invisible organon? What seems to be particular to Benjamin, however, is the agonistic but nevertheless heuristic way in which he intends to use theology in order to upset, disarray, and deconstruct the established philosophy, and specially its dominant trends in the field of the theory of history: historicism, positivism, and the evolutionary Hegelian–Marxist philosophy of history. In this article we try to demonstrate how this theological perspective is applied to a Benjaminian grammar of time. We conclude agonistically, confronting the resulting Benjaminian notion of historical past against Heiddeger’s own vision of historical time. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle Jacques Derrida: The Double Liminality of a Philosophical Marrano
Religions 2019, 10(2), 68; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10020068
Received: 28 December 2018 / Revised: 17 January 2019 / Accepted: 19 January 2019 / Published: 22 January 2019
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Abstract
There is an analogy between two types of liminality: the geographic or cultural ‘outside’ space of the Marrano Jew, alienated from his/her original religion and the one he or she has been forced to adopt, and, a philosophical position that is outside of [...] Read more.
There is an analogy between two types of liminality: the geographic or cultural ‘outside’ space of the Marrano Jew, alienated from his/her original religion and the one he or she has been forced to adopt, and, a philosophical position that is outside of both Athens and Jerusalem. Derrida finds and re-finds ‘h’ors- texte’, an ‘internal desert’, a ‘secret’ outside place: alien to both the western philosophical tradition and the Hebraic archive. In this liminal space he questions the otherness of the French language to which he was acculturated, and, in a turn to a less discursive modality, autobiography, finds, in the words of Helene Cixous, “the Jew-who-doesn’t know-that-he-is”. Derrida’s galut (exile) is neither Hebrew nor Greek. It is a private place outside of all discourse, which he claims, is inevitably ethnocentric. In inhabiting this outside space, he exercises the prerogative of a Marrano, equipped to critique the French language of his acculturation and the western philosophy of the scholars. French and Hebrew are irreconcilable binaries, western philosophy and his Hebrew legacy is as well. These issues will be discussed in this paper with reference to Monolingualism of the Other and Archive Fever as they augment some of his earlier work, Writing and Difference and Speech and Phenomena. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle Giorgio Agamben—A Modern Sabbatian? Marranic Messianism and the Problem of Law
Religions 2019, 10(1), 24; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010024
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 20 December 2018 / Accepted: 27 December 2018 / Published: 1 January 2019
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Abstract
The article analyzes the influence of the kabbalistic doctrine of Sabbatianism on the messianic philosophy of Giorgio Agamben. I argue against Simon Critchley that Agamben’s critique of the sovereign law is not inspired by Marcion’s idea of the total annihilation of law but [...] Read more.
The article analyzes the influence of the kabbalistic doctrine of Sabbatianism on the messianic philosophy of Giorgio Agamben. I argue against Simon Critchley that Agamben’s critique of the sovereign law is not inspired by Marcion’s idea of the total annihilation of law but by Sabbatai Zevi’s project of deactivating its repressive function. I further argue that Agamben also adopts the Sabbatian idea of Marranic messianism, which makes him repeatedly contaminate the Jewish tradition with foreign influences. Although this strategy is potentially fruitful, it eventually leads Agamben to overemphasize antinomianism and problematically associate all Jewish-based messianism with the radical critique of law. In the article, I demonstrate that things are more complex and even in the openly antinomian works of Walter Benjamin—Agamben’s greatest philosophical inspiration—Jewish law is endued with some emancipatory potential. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle The Marrano God: Abstraction, Messianicity, and Retreat in Derrida’s “Faith and Knowledge”
Religions 2019, 10(1), 22; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel10010022
Received: 14 November 2018 / Revised: 8 December 2018 / Accepted: 17 December 2018 / Published: 29 December 2018
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Abstract
This article conducts a close reading of Derrida’s 1994 essay, “Faith and Knowledge”, devoted to the analysis of what Hegel called ‘the religion of modern times’. The reference to Hegel’s “Glauben und Wissen” is crucial here, since my reading is meant to offer [...] Read more.
This article conducts a close reading of Derrida’s 1994 essay, “Faith and Knowledge”, devoted to the analysis of what Hegel called ‘the religion of modern times’. The reference to Hegel’s “Glauben und Wissen” is crucial here, since my reading is meant to offer a supplement to Michael Naas’ commentary on “Faith and Knowledge”, Miracle and Machine, in which Naas states that he is not going to pursue the connection between Derrida and Hegel. It was, however, Hegel who defined the ‘modern religious sentiment’ in terms of the ‘religion of the death of God’, and this definition constitutes Derrida’s point of departure. Derrida agrees with Hegel’s diagnosis, but is also critical of its Protestant–Lutheran interpretation, which founds modern religiosity on the ‘memory of the Passion’, and attempts a different reading of the ‘death of God’ motif as the ‘divine retreat’, pointing to a non-normative ‘Marrano’ kind of faith that stakes on the alternative ‘memory of the Passover’. The apparent visibility of the ‘returning religion’ Derrida witnesses at the beginning of the 90s hides for him a new dimension of the ‘original faith’, which Derrida associates with the universal messianic justice and which he ascribes to the paradoxical position of the Marranos: the secret followers of the God ‘in retreat’. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle Atheism of the Word: Narrated Speech and the Origin of Language in Cohen, Rosenzweig and Levinas
Religions 2018, 9(12), 404; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9120404
Received: 13 November 2018 / Accepted: 4 December 2018 / Published: 7 December 2018
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Abstract
Kant marks a fundamental break in the history of philosophy of religion and the concept of God. God is no longer interpreted as a being necessary to understand the existence of a rational universe, but as an idea that makes sense of our [...] Read more.
Kant marks a fundamental break in the history of philosophy of religion and the concept of God. God is no longer interpreted as a being necessary to understand the existence of a rational universe, but as an idea that makes sense of our morality. Cohen supplements this idea with the concept of personality, which he argues is the unique contribution of Judaism. For Rosenzweig and Levinas, the monotheistic God is neither a being nor an idea, but the living reality of speech. What would the atheism be that responds to this theism? Linguistics makes a distinction between direct, indirect, and free indirect speech. In the latter form, the origin of speech is not a subject, but narrated language. It is this difference between direct and indirect speech that is missing in Rosenzweig and Levinas’s description of God. It would mean that God is produced by language rather than the subject of language. What menaces the reality of God is not whether God exists, or is intelligible, but the externality of language without a subject. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle A Ruby and Triangled Sign upon the Forehead of Taurus: Modalities of Revelation in Megalithic Archaeoastronomy and James Joyce’s Novels Ulysses and Finnegans Wake
Religions 2018, 9(11), 375; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9110375
Received: 4 October 2018 / Revised: 6 November 2018 / Accepted: 13 November 2018 / Published: 20 November 2018
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Abstract
This paper proceeds from the concurrent interpretation of two distinct, apparently unrelated disciplinary contexts, at the crossroads of the positivism of archaeology and the imaginary world of literature. The character of the reciprocal relationship between megalithism in Neolithic Portugal and the writings of [...] Read more.
This paper proceeds from the concurrent interpretation of two distinct, apparently unrelated disciplinary contexts, at the crossroads of the positivism of archaeology and the imaginary world of literature. The character of the reciprocal relationship between megalithism in Neolithic Portugal and the writings of the twentieth-century author, James Joyce, is transfigured through the introduction of a third element of interpretation, a deeply paradoxical current of Jewish thought, with messianic dimensions, antithetical to the forces of mythic reconciliation present in Joyce’s fiction and in archaeological conceptions of ‘symbolic systems’ in antiquity, which tend to erase the innumerable singulars of experience. Applying a cryptotheologically-inflected exegesis immanent to the materials of text and archaeology in the light of their respective orientation to the same astral phenomenon, I seek to generate insights unanticipated within interpretations restricted to the disciplinary boundaries, theories and methodologies of archaeology and literary criticism as discrete entities. Within allegorised readings of archaeology and an archaeologicised reading of Joyce’s texts I bring into play non-synchronous elements which both disrupt the idealised harmonies of social and religious conformity and illuminate hitherto unseen connections between diverse, seemingly incommensurable contexts, beyond the discursive conventions of detached objectivity, without relinquishing irreduceible remnants to a totalising synthesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
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Open AccessArticle Thank God We Are Creatures: Hannah Arendt’s Cryptotheology
Religions 2018, 9(11), 371; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9110371
Received: 1 October 2018 / Revised: 6 November 2018 / Accepted: 13 November 2018 / Published: 19 November 2018
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Abstract
Main concern of this article is to grasp the interpretative matrix of Hannah Arendt’s doctorate, which, I claim, is the central organising net for her other writings. I call this matrix “cryptotheological defence of the secular world”. In order to show its functionality, [...] Read more.
Main concern of this article is to grasp the interpretative matrix of Hannah Arendt’s doctorate, which, I claim, is the central organising net for her other writings. I call this matrix “cryptotheological defence of the secular world”. In order to show its functionality, I have to determine the character of Arendt’s discourse in relation to theology and philosophy on the basis of her doctoral thesis from 1929. The main attention will be focused on the figure of the neighbour as a singular and the concept of natality. I will show how the critique of theology, often very ironic, serves Arendt to contest the paradigm of the political theology. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle The Seduction of the Name: Universal Marranism and the Secret of Being-in-Language
Religions 2018, 9(11), 359; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9110359
Received: 27 September 2018 / Revised: 9 November 2018 / Accepted: 12 November 2018 / Published: 14 November 2018
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Abstract
The author combines Walter Benjamin’s speculations on language, naming, and horror with Jean Laplanche’s general theory of seduction and his notion of the enigmatic signifier in order to reconstruct what he identifies as the primal scene of initiation into language. Further, the author [...] Read more.
The author combines Walter Benjamin’s speculations on language, naming, and horror with Jean Laplanche’s general theory of seduction and his notion of the enigmatic signifier in order to reconstruct what he identifies as the primal scene of initiation into language. Further, the author develops this construction by linking it to a similar structure which he extracts by means of interpretation from Jacques Derrida’s commentaries to the Biblical stories of the Tower of Babel and of the Binding of Isaac. Finally, the author shows how the primal scene thus reconstructed should be seen as the transcendental condition of being in language as described by Derrida in his seminal essay on Monolingualism of the Other and how this very condition should be understood as a universalized form of the Marrano condition. The most far-reaching conclusion of the argument is, then, that at least for Jacques Derrida, every subject of language is a Marrano. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle Solovyov’s Metaphysics between Gnosis and Theurgy
Religions 2018, 9(11), 354; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9110354
Received: 29 September 2018 / Revised: 6 November 2018 / Accepted: 8 November 2018 / Published: 13 November 2018
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Abstract
This article provides a reading of Vladimir Solovyov’s philosophy as expressed in his ‘Lectures on Divine Humanity’ and ‘The Meaning of Love’. It seeks to unpack his eclectic thought in order to answer the question of whether there is a Jewish Kabbalistic influence [...] Read more.
This article provides a reading of Vladimir Solovyov’s philosophy as expressed in his ‘Lectures on Divine Humanity’ and ‘The Meaning of Love’. It seeks to unpack his eclectic thought in order to answer the question of whether there is a Jewish Kabbalistic influence on the Russian thinker amidst his usual platonic, gnostic, and Schellengian tropes. Interested as a young man in Jewish Mysticism, Solovyov fluctuates in his ‘Lectures on Divine Humanity’ between a platonic reading of Schellengian Gnosticism and some elements of Kabbalistic origin. In ‘The Meaning of Love’, he develops a notion of love that puts him very close to what Moshe Idel calls ‘theosophic-theurgical Kabbalah’. Showing how ‘The Meaning of Love’ completes the narrative of ‘Lectures’, we can affirm that there is a certain Christian Kabbalistic line in Solovyov’s thought that culminates in his theurgical understanding of love. In this sense, Solovyov might be called a philosophical Marrano as he is certainly a heterodox theosopher that fluctuates between Christian Gnosis and Christian Kabbalah, never assuming a solid identity. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
Open AccessArticle Ernst Bloch as a Non-Simultaneous Jewish Marxist
Religions 2018, 9(11), 346; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9110346
Received: 30 September 2018 / Revised: 1 November 2018 / Accepted: 3 November 2018 / Published: 6 November 2018
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Abstract
The paper attempts to reassess the fundamentally paradoxical position of Ernst Bloch in 20th century philosophy in the light of the Marranic condition. Indebted, among others, to Jewish heritage and Christian tradition, Bloch considered himself primarily a Marxist. Bloch’s uniqueness consists in the [...] Read more.
The paper attempts to reassess the fundamentally paradoxical position of Ernst Bloch in 20th century philosophy in the light of the Marranic condition. Indebted, among others, to Jewish heritage and Christian tradition, Bloch considered himself primarily a Marxist. Bloch’s uniqueness consists in the stunning equiponderance of the currents he drew from. Contrary to a classic model of modern Jewish philosophy, inaugurated by Hermann Cohen, Bloch’s thinking does not allow of easy juxtaposition of “sources” with languages into which they were translated. In this sense, Bloch cannot be easily compared to Franz Rosenzweig, Emmanuel Levinas or even Walter Benjamin (although he bore some striking similarities with the latter). His position at least partly stems from a specific form of directness with which he often used these languages, composing his philosophy in quite an anachronist manner. For this reason his thinking—in itself “die Gleichzeitigkeit des Ungleichzeitigen”, as one of his key concepts theorises—is a very modern, internally incoherent space of cross-fertilising inspirations. The paper demonstrates two levels on which Bloch’s indebtedness to Judaism might be analysed and then re-assesses his Marxist affiliations as a kind of modern faith which, in a specifically Marranic manner, seals the simultaneity of the non-simultaneous. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)

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Open AccessEssay Invisible Concealment of Invisibility Crypto-Judaism as a Theological Paradigm of Racial Anti-Semitism
Religions 2018, 9(11), 339; https://doi.org/10.3390/rel9110339
Received: 1 October 2018 / Revised: 29 October 2018 / Accepted: 30 October 2018 / Published: 1 November 2018
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Abstract
The motif of secret, crypto-Judaism has a history that reaches further back into the theological tradition. It no doubt structurally arises from or closely related to the epistemo-political challenges posed by the unworldliness and absolutely inner being of faith, which in the political [...] Read more.
The motif of secret, crypto-Judaism has a history that reaches further back into the theological tradition. It no doubt structurally arises from or closely related to the epistemo-political challenges posed by the unworldliness and absolutely inner being of faith, which in the political or inter-subjective dimension immediately raises the question of evidence. The question of evidence, i.e., for the invisible faith, becomes acute in the case of conversion, where the basic premise is the initial absence of faith. Paradoxically, conversion is consequently the establishment of the convert’s fundamental faithlessness, of her originally non-Christian element, which the convert, in the very same act of conversion, claims no longer exists. It is easy to see the conceptual constellation that would present the convert as structural deception. At the Iberian threshold of modernity, in the face of mass Jewish conversion and assimilation, this paradox appeared in the image of the “new Christians”, the marranos, structurally suspected to be crypto-Jews, to the effect that the ultimate evidence of faith was a certificate of limpieza de sangre, “purity of blood”. This paper will follow the historian Yosef HayimYerushalmi in tracing the conceptual link between the Inquisition’s notion of crypto-Jews and the racialized figure of the Jew in modern anti-Semitism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Marrano Phenomenon. Jewish ‘Hidden Tradition’ and Modernity)
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