Posts by: mzank

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. […]

The Ilhan Omar Affair

Can a Muslim American politician be critical of Israel and her American supporters without being anti-Semitic? The answer to this question is obviously: yes. There is no question, or there shouldn’t be one. First of all, it doesn’t matter whether she is Muslima, Christian, Jew or something else. Religion should not be considered in such […]

A lecture on tolerance

Epic Poetry and Jewish Peoplehood

In the following considerations I take my cue from Hermann Cohen’s aesthetic theory, as presented in Sebastian Wogenstein’s informative book on “tragedy and Judaism from Cohen and Levinas” (Horizonte der Moderne. Tragödie und Judentum von Cohen bis Lévinas. Heidelberg: Winter, 2011). Similar to Myriam Bienenstock’s more recent monograph on Cohen und Rosenzweig (Alber 2018), Wogenstein […]

Belief, Unbelief, and the College Study of Religion

When people ask me what I teach, and I answer “religious studies,” I am always compelled to add that this has nothing to do with theology, and everything with the Humanities. Aside from the fact that I don’t wish to appear religious when I am not, I also want my work to be taken seriously […]

Speaking in Tongues

The Book of Acts tells the story of how the good news of the risen Christ spread from Jerusalem to Rome. The anonymous narrator, identified by tradition as Luke, one of Paul’s Gentile travel companions, shows why the gospel proclaimed by the Peter, John, Stephen, and Paul was perceived as compelling and persuasive. The proclamation […]

Hanukkah: hiding in plain sight

Hanukkah: eight nights and eight lights, ma’oz tsur, chocolate money, dreydldreydldreydl. Latke parties and gaudy decoration. What’s not to love? When it comes to the great miracle of light, people regularly miss the point. The rabbis made sure we did. The last drops of pure oil that was needed to rekindle the seven-branched candelabra at […]

Apage, Satanas!

It’s been a long time since Junker Jörg, aka Martin Luther, threw an inkwell at the great adversary who had no difficulty catching up with the feisty former Augustinian monk hidden away at the Elector’s fortress Wartburg, even though Luther had grown a beard. But that’s not what this post is about. It’s about the […]

Life of Adam and Eve. Some comments

Life of Adam and Eve: A Comparison between the Greek and Latin Versions The “Life of Adam and Eve” is one of the most popular stories across the Christian Middle Ages. No other work, aside from the Bible itself, is preserved in as many manuscripts and in as many languages. (See The text (in […]