Posts by: mzank

Whence the proliferation of late Second Commonwealth Jewish literature?

I haven’t done a word count, but just looking at the size of Charlesworth’s edition of the OT Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha, it seems obvious that, sometime, during the late Second Commonwealth, Jewish culture exploded into a burst of literary activity. I am not even thinking of the Alexandrian Jews, most prominently among them Philo of Alexandria (c 20 BCE to c 40 […]

Would FB have allowed Hitler to post?

My former student and CAS alum Sonari Glinton drew my attention to comedian Sacha Baron Cohen’s recent statement and op-ed on Hitler and Facebook. I had seen the headline when it was first reported but didn’t think it was very significant. Hitler is always a convenient way of stirring our emotions. Setting aside SBC, what is the substantive […]

The Ben Shapiro Performance: Why It Was Shameful

Yesterday, a much hyped appearance of Ben Shapiro at BU came and went, and we are all left to puzzle what this performance was all about. By performance I mean everything that came before and the event itself. By the time I was thinking of attending the event had sold out. Sold out lectures are a rarity here […]

Hermann Cohen on the Figure of Job

Hermann Cohen (1842-1918) remains one of the best-known, though barely read, modern Jewish philosophers. Of his major works, only his posthumous Religion of Reason Out of the Sources of Judaism has been translated into English. His studies of Kantian philosophy and the three volumes of his own system of philosophy remain untranslated. The most important […]

Apocalyptic Literature

The term apocalyptein (Greek), means to uncover or reveal. At the heart of apocalyptic writing is the imminent vindication and grand reversal  that will put a religiously committed community, now persecuted, in a position of power.  The historic situation of the apocalyptic community is characterized by trials and tribulations, persecution and repression, or war and destruction. The visionary […]

Job and the Question of Evil

Human acts of evil are subject to punishment. In Genesis 6 the biblical deity concludes that the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth. As result, human lifespan is reduced, and the initial crop of human beings is wiped out by the flood. Post-diluvial humanity is assured that such destruction will not occur […]

Transactional and non-transactional religion

In recent politics, the word “transactional” has been used a lot. Transactional politics are rootless politics where everything is governed by the self-interest of the moment. The opposite of transactionism are politics governed by policies and relationships by contracts. Transactional politics atomize relationships into moments of transaction. Non-transactional politics seek continuity and predictability. If we […]

What I learn from finals

The end of a semester is always bitter-sweet. Among the sweetness is that as students buckle down and work on their final papers, one’s own brain switches back to research and writing. I love how that happens from one moment to the next. The part of you that was preoccupied with making sure your students were […]

The Return. Comments on a play by Hanna Eady and Ed Mast

How do you express an insight that is complex, particular, personal and yet political, one that cannot be expressed in a sentence or two? For some of us, expressing a differentiated insight requires interminable conversation. For others, writing a book. For Palestinian playwright Hanna Eady and his American collaborator Edward Mast it requires writing a […]

Free speech: An open letter to President Trump

Dear Mr. President, An executive order promoting free speech and the freedom of thought across all institutions of higher learning should be welcomed by all. As Boston University President Robert A. Brown put it at a recent gathering in anticipation of your executive order, what you are telling us to do is what we are already doing. […]