Volume 84, Issue 2, Spring 2010
Reading Nietzsche—Thinking about God
Martin Buber, Gershom Scholem, and Franz Rosenzweig
At early ages, Buber, Scholem, and Rosenzweig encountered Nietzsche’s work. Nietzsche’s philosophy was reduced to short catchwords or barely mentioned
in their later writings. His views on Jews and Judaism seemed to have mattered little, and he first and foremost aided their rebellious breaks with both traditional
and enlightened concepts of God. Nietzsche’s proclamation of God’s death thus served them to articulate their own unease with religious traditions. Yet in many
ways the confrontation with Nietzsche was both attenuated and accentuated by the concept of Erlebnis and elevation of aesthetical categories. Ironically, Nietzsche’s challenge to Jewish thought was less in his alleged anti-religious stance, than in the celebration of an unmitigated experience, which was incompatible with any attempt of forging a new critical Jewish philosophy.