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Levinas Studies

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published on March 23, 2021

Sarah Hammerschlag

Emerging from the Marrano Complex: Levinas and the Therapy of the Colloque des Intellectuels Juifs de Langue Française

By examining the ambivalence around the application of the concept of religion to Judaism at the first meeting of the Colloque des Intellectuels Juifs de langue Francaise, this essay shows how Levinas’s employment of the term in Totality and Infinity and after emerged in and through the cloaking of Judaism in the terminology of Christianity, a procedure which began with Levinas’s reception of Catholic thinkers such as Paul Claudel and Jacques Maritain in the 1930s and developed through his interpretation of Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption at the second meeting of the Colloque in 1959. Rather than a straightforward appropriation of the Christian conception, religion is a term for Levinas designated to register what it is to be stunned by the Christian gaze. The reclamation of the term, the essay argues is itself a kind of therapy that embraces the designation of scapegoat as Judaism’s historical mission.

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