Christian culture 基督教文化学刊

The Concept of God in Modern Jewish Thought after the Holocaust

Author: WANG Wumei, Ph.D. Candidate, School of Philosophy, Nanjing University



In traditional Jewish faith, God was the Master of history and human destiny, and had a close relationship with people. However, during the Holocaust God did not come to his people’s aid and save them in their suffering but chose silence. The Holocaust has exerted a great impact upon the concept of God of traditional Jewish faith, overturning the former relationship between God and humanity and causing an unprecedented crisis in faith. This essay studies three modern Jewish thinkers and their reflection upon the concept of God as a response to the tragedy of the Holocaust, namely the “hidden God” of Buber; the “non-omnipotent God” of Jonas, the “trace of God” of Levinas. These new ideas have to some extent reversed and challenged the concept of God in traditional Jewish faith. Since then, God in modern Jewish thought has withdrawn from a direct influence and intervention in history and human destiny, and no longer acts as the Master of history and human destiny.



Holocaust, modern Jewish thought, the concept of God, Buber, Levinas, Jonas


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