Center for Interdisciplinary Study of Monotheistic Religions(CISMOR)Doshisha University

> Past Research Activities > From the Perspective of Philosophy and Jewish Studies: M. Buber’s Thought in his Interpretation of the Bible

Past Research Activities

The Third Session of the Symposium by Young Scholars

From the Perspective of Philosophy and Jewish Studies: M. Buber’s Thought in his Interpretation of the Bible

Date: 2010/05/15 16:30 − 18:00
Place: Confarence Room, Neisei-kan 5F, Imadegawa Campus, Doshisha University
  • Speaker 1: Toshihiro Horikawa, Adjunct Lecturer, Kyoto University
  • Speaker 2: Fumio Ono, Assistant Professor, Kyoto University
  • Masato Gouda, Professor, Meiji University
- On the Significance of the Direct Rule of God in Martin Buber: From the Interpretation of the Book of Judges in The Kingdom of God”
This presentation dealt with the “direct rule of God” and the concept of a “utopian society,” which Martin Buber, a religious philosopher, developed through his interpretation of the Book of Judges from the Hebrew Bible.
Through the “amphictyony hypothesis,” M. Noth, a German biblical scholar, held that the political form during the period of the Judges was a “loose federation of 12 tribes.” This was a religious federation organized to protect a sanctuary. On the other hand, Buber’s view is that the federation was formed for political and economical purposes.
According to Buber, politically, the federation sought charismatic rule by a leader chosen from time to time and given temporary power, instead of state formed governance by a human king. The “direct rule of God” was made possible through such a system of governance.
Economically, the alliance is considered to have relied on agriculture, and through an organic association with industries and handicrafts, ensured linkage between production and consumption. It can be termed a pluralistic economic system with less state formed top-down control and more interaction among vocational associations. These are important characteristics of the period of the Judges that precedes the period of the Kingdom.
Further, Buber developed his own idea of a utopian society building on his concept of the “direct rule of God” in the period of the Judges. He was affected by the idea of religious socialism that prevailed in Switzerland and Germany in the early 20th century, and proposed reducing economy to the extent that allows us to sustain a “minimum necessary” lifestyle, as well as introducing a cooperative capable of achieving a perfect balance between production and consumption. To realize this ideal in Palestine, Buber took part in the Zionist movement, and sought to create a utopian society with a cooperative and vocational association at its core in Israel. The presenter pointed out that this concept of utopia originates in Buber’s interpretation of the Bible.

Toshihiro Horikawa, Adjunct Lecturer, Kyoto University

- Morphology of the Voice in the Hermeneutics of Martin Buber: between Judaistik and Germanistik
This presentation aimed to shed light on the uniqueness and significance of Buber’s hermeneutics through intra-text analysis of Kingship of God (Königtum Gottes) in the context of biblical study, as well as through inter-text analysis of this work from a wider ideological perspective. In Kingship of God, Buber attempts to review the concept of “history” in terms of events and to find out how we can witness, via language, the process of the occurrence of past historical events. The presenter calls Buber a philosopher who has inquired into the “form of the unformed,” in light of his attempt to find “voice” in the origin of the history and consider the “form” of occurrence and the tradition of voice. This attitude of Buber is apparent in his translation of the Bible. He positions the “form” (Gestalt) that emerges from the reading of the text at the core of his hermeneutics, and treats it as the principle of his Bible translation. This presentation thus shed light on some contemporary thoughts that had influence on Buber in developing this unique concept, including historical jurisprudence and the folklore of Savigny/Grimm, Gestalt psychology that analyzes the “form,” the attempt of the Vienna School of Art History to historically reconstruct “art” based on the concept of “style,” and the iconological study and inquiry into “form” of symbols by Aby Warburg, Erwin Panofsky, and Ernst Cassirer. How could the German Jewish thinker, who was torn between “Germanness and Jewishness,” was inspired to tackle the interpretation of the Bible through his struggle for life, and what thought did he conceive? We are tasked with finding answers to these questions.

Fumio Ono, Assistant Professor, Kyoto University