Mar­tin Buber’s Theopolitics

Samuel Hay­im Brody

December 18, 2018

How did one of the great­est Jew­ish thinkers of the 20th cen­tu­ry grap­ple with the found­ing of Israel and the Israeli-Pales­tin­ian conflict―one of the most sig­nif­i­cant polit­i­cal con­flicts of his time? Samuel Hay­im Brody traces the devel­op­ment of Mar­tin Buber’s think­ing and its impli­ca­tions for the Jew­ish reli­gion, for the prob­lems posed by Zion­ism, and for the Zion­ist-Arab con­flict. Begin­ning in tur­bu­lent Weimar Ger­many, Brody shows how Buber’s debates about Bib­li­cal mean­ings had con­crete polit­i­cal con­se­quences for anar­chists, social­ists, Zion­ists, Nazis, British, and Pales­tini­ans alike. Brody fur­ther reveals how Buber’s pas­sion­ate com­mit­ment to the rule of God absent an inter­me­di­ary came into con­flict in the face of a Zion­ist move­ment in dan­ger of repeat­ing ancient mis­takes. Brody argues that Buber’s sup­port for Israel stemmed from a rad­i­cal­ly rich and com­plex under­stand­ing of the nature of the Jew­ish mis­sion on earth that arose from an anar­chist read­ing of the Bible.

Discussion Questions

In Mar­tin Buber’s Theopol­i­tics, Samuel Hay­im Brody presents a nov­el, emi­nent­ly informed, and beau­ti­ful­ly writ­ten analy­sis of Buber’s thought by focus­ing on the often neglect­ed rela­tion­ship of reli­gion and pol­i­tics in Buber’s works. Pos­sess­ing a pro­found knowl­edge of Buber’s oeu­vre and a sen­si­tiv­i­ty for the many intel­lec­tu­al and polit­i­cal con­texts in which it devel­oped, Brody uses the lens of theopol­i­tics” to pro­vide a far more com­plex under­stand­ing of Buber’s anar­chism and its pres — ence in his work and polit­i­cal con­vic­tions, thus pro­vid­ing an essen­tial plat­form for any sub­se­quent dis­cus­sions of Buber’s life and work.