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The Dialectic of Tradition and the Transformation of Theological Knowledge in Modern Jewish Writing


The project deals with transformations of theological knowledge in 20th century Jewish literature and thought. It looks at various cases in which religious traditions have been translated, interpreted and implied in new contexts of poetics and political thinking. The project, however, studies not only how traditions shape the world of modern Judaism, but also looks at modernist interpretations as creating new experiences of tradition. We are thus dealing with the “dialectic of tradition”– the process through which tradition itself gain new meanings. The project looks at tradition as a process of “delivery,” which also implies opening and renewal. In the modernist frames of Jewish literature, theological knowledge is not eliminated, but rather gains new and different forms of expression. The project should lead to a better understanding of tradition beyond the familiar binary thinking about religiosity and secularism, myth and science, faith and skepticism. Most of the project’s case studies deal with German-Jewish and Hebrew cultures in the 20th century. The methods to be used are multidisciplinary and are based on literary theory and criticism, intellectual and cultural history, rabbinical studies and Jewish philosophy.
The project will focus on five major issues:
1. New Hebrew and its theological challenges in the era of secularization.
2. The relationships between poetry and prayer; the translations of the liturgical tradition (the Hebrew piut) and its transformation into new textures of literary and philosophical representation.
3. The figure of the angel and its new, ambiguous appearance in modern literature and thought.
4. The story of the Akeda (the binding of Isaac), its exegesis, and its implications for modern literary criticism.
5. The idea of messianism and its transformations into new poetical textures.

Field of science

  • /humanities/philosophy, ethics and religion/religion/judaism
  • /humanities/languages and literature/literature studies/literary theory/literary criticism

Call for proposal

See other projects for this call

Funding Scheme

MC-CIG - Support for training and career development of researcher (CIG)


Ramat Aviv
69978 Tel Aviv
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
EU contribution
€ 100 000
Administrative Contact
Lea Pais (Ms.)