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Scion of a distinguished line of Talmudic scholars, Jacob Taubes (1923–1987) was an intellectual impresario whose inner restlessness led him from prewar Vienna to Zurich, Israel, the United States, and Cold War Berlin. Regarded by some as a genius, and by others as a charlatan, Taubes moved among yeshivas, monasteries, and leading academic institutions, including Columbia University. He wandered between Judaism and Christianity, left and right, piety and transgression. Along the way, he interacted with many of the leading minds of the age, from Leo Strauss and Gershom Scholem to Herbert Marcuse, Susan Sontag, and Carl Schmitt. This wide-ranging study shows how Taubes’s personal tensions mirrored broader conflicts between religious belief and scholarship, allegiance to Jewish origins and the urge to escape them, tradition and radicalism, and religion and politics.
Jerry Z. Muller (Catholic University) discusses his new biography of Taubes with Michael Brenner (American University/Munich).
About the Speakers
Michael Brenner is the Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies at American University and Director of AU’s Center for Israel Studies. Since 1997 he has been Professor of Jewish History and Culture at the Ludwig-Maximilians University of Munich. He is the International President of the Leo Baeck Institute for the Study of German-Jewish History and serves on many academic boards, including the Jewish Museum of Berlin, the Israel Institute, the Center for European Studies of the University of Haifa and is board chair of the Franz Rosenzweig Research Center of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. His nine books have been translated into ten languages and include The Renaissance of Jewish Culture in Weimar Germany; A Short History of the Jews; and In Hitler’s Munich: Jews, Revolution, and the Rise of Nazism. He is co-author of the four-volume German-Jewish History in Modern Times, for which he was awarded a National Jewish Book Award.
Jerry Z. Muller is Professor Emeritus of History at the Catholic University of America and the author of seven books, including The Mind and the Market and Capitalism and the Jews. His work has appeared in Foreign Affairs, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other leading publications. His most recent book, Professor of Apocalypse: The Many Lives of Jacob Taubes has just been published by Princeton University Press. A German edition will be published by Suhrkamp/Jüdischer Verlag in December.