Journal for Jewish Studies
Editor-in-chief Klaus Hödl
Jonathan Boyarin and Martin Land
Recent work by scholars such as Sylvie-Anne Goldberg and Elisheva Carlebach has paid close attention to the forms of temporality in traditional Jewish cultures, and classic twentieth-century studies debated the origin and character of various forms of Jewish Messianism as well as the genre of Jewish apocalypse. This essay considers the possible relevance of Jewish rhetorics of temporality to the most likely current scenario of the human future: a deterioration of both numbers and quality of life, with no inevitable extinction or redemption to be envisioned as a narrative end-point. The recent television series “Battlestar Galactica” is closely examined, both for its specifically Jewish tropes and more generally as a narrative modeling of a regressive sequence without inevitable resolution. Most broadly, this meditation in the form of a dialogue challenges scholars to address their analyses to the current situation of the species, and to do so in a way that does not rely on antiquated ideologies of progress and enlightenment.
dominance during the first cycle of Jewish history and was overcome in the third cycle that had commenced with Moses Mendelssohn. The leadership for the final stage in universal history (eternal peace and redemption) would emerge from the Jewish people, endowed with special racial qualities of self-regeneration. Graetz believed that the frequently cited expression “suffering servant of the Lord” buttressed his reading. Assuming that an unknown post-exilic author had written the second Isaiah, Graetz interpreted Isaiah 53 in line with many traditional Jewish commentators
disagreements in the Jewish community were resolved mostly within a framework that had been provided from outside. The school of Padua was the result of a common effort that was internal, but in a sense also because of external needs and suggestions. The Jewish communities did not split, either, when it came to choosing teachers for the school. They had no hesitation in nominating Samuel David Luzzatto, born in Trieste, 27 years old, but already well known and admired for his intellectual qualities, which he had demonstrated as a historian of Jewish religious literature and
confused notions about particular subjects. See: Moses Maimonides, Guide of the Perplexed 1:71. But Maimonides was not the sole medieval Jewish scholar to adopt this stance. A similar approach was taken by Judah Ha-Levi (1075-1141) in his Kuzari and by Joseph Albo (1388-1444) in Sefer Ha-Ikkarim (Book of Principles). Ha-Levi and Albo did not just point out the problematic nature of a written tradition but also emphasized the qualities of oral transmission. Unlike a written document, which is subject to conflicting interpretations, an oral tradition, delivered