Jewish Messianism and the History of Philosophy

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $15.00
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 84%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (8) from $15.00   
  • New (2) from $83.78   
  • Used (6) from $15.00   


Jewish Messianism and the History of Philosophy contests the ancient opposition between Athens and Jerusalem by retrieving the concept of meontology - the doctrine of nonbeing - from the Jewish philosophical and theological tradition. For Emmanuel Levinas, as well as for Franz Rosenzweig, Hermann Cohen, and Moses Maimonides, the Greek concept of nonbeing (understood as both lack and possibility) clarifies the meaning of Jewish life. These thinkers of "Jerusalem" use "Athens" for Jewish ends, justifying Jewish anticipation of a future messianic era, as well as portraying the subject's intellectual and ethical acts as central in accomplishing redemption. In addition, Kavka argues that this formal structure of messianic subjectivity is not simply an acculturating move of Judaism to modern or medieval philosophical values, but it can also be found in an earlier stratum of the Jewish tradition, particularly in an ancient midrashic text discussing a group that refers to itself as the Mourners of Zion.

This book envisions modern Jewish thought as an expression of the intimate relationship between Athens and Jerusalem. It also offers new readings of important figures in contemporary Continental philosophy, critiquing previous arguments about the role of lived religion in the thought of Jacques Derrida, the role of Plato in the thought of Emmanuel Levinas, and the centrality of ethics in the thought of Franz Rosenzweig.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Exceeding all other work on modern Jewish thought, this book engages the history of philosophy and the history of Jewish philosophy. The question of the me on, the not-being, is a central question for both traditions, leading from pre-Socratics,through Plato and Aristotle, and then obsessing certain thinkers until today...[the author's] relentless philosophical voice allows him to delve into extremely complex and challenging questions with astonishing clarity. Because he is asking for a specific purpose, he can plumb the depths of the relation of being and non-being, without drowning the reader in jargon or metaphysical haze. No reader will fail to learn a great deal from his enquiry and his argument." Robert Gibbs, author of Correlations in Rosenzweig and Levinas and Why Ethics? Signs of Responsibilities

"In our apocalyptic, ironic age, a book about nothing hardly makes us lugh. But Martin Kavka's prodigious wit lightly carries his dense study of meontology, the logic of nonbeing. Broad enough to encompass Husserl and Maimonides, Plotinus and Hermann Cohen, Jewish Messianism and the History of Philosophy will appeal to diverse audiences with uncommon success; and it will reshape even as it reintroduces Judaism into contemporary philosophy and Christian theology." - Gregory Kaplan, Rice University, Modern Theology

"Martin Kavka's Jewish Messianism and the History of Philosophy combines an extraordinary breadth and depth of scholarship with a degree of living thinking and ethical passion that is indeed rare and wonderful. It is framed as a love letter, an invitation to conversation, addressed to a friend, a Rabbi, and to us, his readers. It is an invitation that I take personally." —Kenneth Reinhard, Journal of the History of Philosophy

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521831031
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.91 (d)

Table of Contents

Introduction : from Athens to Jerusalem 1
1 The meontological conundrum : Emmanuel Levinas and Emil Fackenheim on the Athens-Jerusalem conflict 18
2 Beyond "beyond being" : nonbeing in Plato and Husserl 42
3 Nonbeing as not-yet-being : meontology in Maimonides and Hermann Cohen 66
4 Nonbeing ensouled, nonbeing embodied : Levinas versus Rosenzweig on the role of the other in messianic anticipation 129
Conclusion : deepening the roots of the Jewish meontological tradition, or contra the Derridean "Messianic" 193
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)