Rosenzweig & the Shaping of Thought

In his essay about Franz Rosenzweig, Rudiger Lux writes the following as a summary of the third section of Rosenzweig’s climactic book The Star of Redemption. The third section is titled Gestalt or “The Form”:

In The Form he (Rosenzweig) poses the questions: Does all that happened in the past culminate only in the present, in the moment of perception? Is there nothing that gives direction and character to this stream? Is there nothing left but the unredeemed instant? For this final part Rosenzweig chooses as his sub-title, “Against the Tyrants”. The present kingdoms have no remaining form, because the redemptive future shines already into the present. Rosenzweig saw this anticipation of the eternal kingdom realized in the communities of synagogue and church, in their alternation of everyday life and day of rest, their liturgy and their festive year cycle. Both synagogue and church have their basis in the revelation of God’s name: “I am there and I will be there.” (Ex 3:14). (emphasis mine)

In the writings of Franz Rosenzweig, I believe I may have stumbled on to the great shaping influence behind the thinking of Dwight A. Pryor. I shall have to write and ask him.

But what a powerful phrase, “the redemptive future shines already into the present.” And “all that has happened in the past culminate(s) in the present, in the moment of perception.” Wow!

Rosenzweig (1886 – 1929) grew up in a marginally observant Jewish family, almost converted to Christianity and then had an epiphany during Yom Kippur services at an orthodox synagogue. He later expressed his failure to follow up on his intent to convert like this:

“It [conversion to Christianity] seems unnecessary and for me impossible now. I remain a Jew….We agree on what Christ and his Church mean in the world: no-one comes to the Father but through him (Jn 14:6). No one comes to the Father – but it is different when somebody does not have to come to the Father because he is already with him. And this is so for the people of Israel….”

Rosenzweig understands the meta-narrative of Life/Existence and of Scripture as having three movements, Creation, Revelation & Redemption, as expressed in the Past, Present and Future. For Rosenzweig, God is revealed through creation by acts which are always already there, in regard to realities of the future that are breaking in on the present. In other words, “the kingdom of God is at hand.” As Dwight Pryor likes to say, “we are to live not just redeemed but redemptive lives.”

May the Kingdom of God break into our lives daily.

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.”

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