6. Nostalgia, Trauma, and the Numinous: Twentieth-Century Jewish Readings of Rudolf Otto’s Das Heilige

The Holy in a Pluralistic World - Rudolf Otto's Legacy in the 21st Century - Ulrich Rosenhagen

Melissa Raphael-Levine [+-]
University of Gloucestershire
Melissa Raphael is Professor of Jewish Theology at the University of Gloucestershire and teaches modern Jewish thought at Leo Baeck College, London. She has been the Sherman Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the University of Manchester and the Hussey Lecturer in the Church and the Arts at the University of Oxford. She is the author of numerous articles and books. Her books include Rudolf Otto and the Concept of Holiness (Oxford, 1997) and Judaism and the Visual Image: A Jewish Theology of Art (Continuum, 2009). She is currently working on a new book on gender, idol-breaking and liberation.

Description

Over the course of the twentieth century, Rudolf Otto’s Das Heilige (translated as The Idea of the Holy) was widely cited in Jewish religious thought, including Orthodox thought, to affirm the existential immediacy of revelation, even in a modern secular age. Other modern Jewish thinkers retained some liberal wariness of, even antipathy to, numinous experience as a threat to the moral integrity of the holy. But those alienated from the tradition after the modernization, and later eradication, of European Jewish life, were particularly receptive to Otto’s account of the numinous. Otto’s romanticism named their nostalgic encounter with Jewish observance as a primarily aesthetic experience of the uncanny: something both repudiated and longed for; something present in its absence. In the post-Holocaust era, several theologians made further use of Otto’s account of the morally equivocal numinous to (more or less) reconcile a loving God with the mysterium horrendum of the Holocaust.

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Citation

Raphael-Levine, Melissa. 6. Nostalgia, Trauma, and the Numinous: Twentieth-Century Jewish Readings of Rudolf Otto’s Das Heilige. The Holy in a Pluralistic World - Rudolf Otto's Legacy in the 21st Century. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. Jun 2022. ISBN 9781781794906. https://www.equinoxpub.com/home/view-chapter/?id=30389. Date accessed: 07 Dec 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.30389. Jun 2022

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