Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity

Essays and Lectures in Modern Jewish Thought

By Leo Strauss
Edited by Kenneth Hart Green
Introduction by Kenneth Hart Green

Subjects: Judaica
Series: SUNY series in the Jewish Writings of Leo Strauss
Paperback : 9780791427743, 528 pages, April 1997
Hardcover : 9780791427736, 528 pages, April 1997

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Table of contents


Editor's Preface

Editor's Introduction: Leo Strauss as a Modern Jewish Thinker

Part I: Essays in Modern Jewish Thought

1. Progress or Return? (1952)
2. Preface to Spinoza's Critique of Religion (1965)

Part II: Studies of Modern Jewish Thinkers

3. How to Study Spinoza's Theologico-Political Treatise (1948)
4. Preface to Isaac Husik, Philosophical Essays (1952)
5. Introductory Essay to Hermann Cohen, Religion of Reason out of the Sources of Judaism (1972)

Part III: Lectures on Contemporary Jewish Issues

6. Freud on Moses and Monotheism (1958)
7. Why We Remain Jews (1962)

Part IV: Studies on the Hebrew Bible

8. On the Interpretation of Genesis (1957)
9. Jerusalem and Athens (1967)

Part V: Comments on Jewish History

10. What Is Political Philosophy? [The First Paragraph] (1954)
11. Review of J. L. Talmon, The Nature of Jewish History (1957)
12. Letter to the Editor: The State of Israel (1957)

Part VI: Miscellaneous Writings on Jews and Judaism

13. Introduction to Persecution and the Art of Writing (1952)
14. Perspectives on the Good Society (1963)

Part VII: Autobiographical Reflections

15. An Unspoken Prologue (1959)
16. Preface to Hobbes Politische Wissenschaft (1965)
17. A Giving of Accounts (1970)

Appendix 1: Plan of a Book Tentatively Entitled Philosophy and the Law: Historical Essays (1946)

Appendix 2: Restatement on Xenophon's Hiero [The Last Paragraph] (1950)

Appendix 3: Memorial Remarks for Jason Aronson (1961)




Explores the impact on Jews and Judaism of the crisis of modernity, analyzing modern Jewish dilemmas and providing a prescription for their resolution.


This is the first book to bring together the major essays and lectures of Leo Strauss in the field of modern Jewish thought. It contains some of his most famous published writings, as well as significant writings which were previously unpublished. Spanning almost 30 years of continuously deepening reflection, the book presents the full range of Strauss's contributions as a modern Jewish thinker.

These essays and lectures also offer Strauss's mature considerations of some of the great figures in modern Jewish thought, such as Baruch Spinoza, Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Theodor Herzl, and Sigmund Freud. They also encompass his incisive analyses and original explorations of modern Judaism (which he viewed as caught in the grip of the "theological-political crisis"): from German Jewry, anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust to Zionism and the State of Israel; from the question of assimilation to the meaning and value of Jewish history. In addition Strauss's two sustained interpretations of the Hebrew Bible are also reprinted.

These essays and lectures cumulatively point toward the "postcritical" reconstruction of Judaism which Strauss envisioned, suggesting it rebuild along Maimonidean lines. Thus, the book lends credence to the view that Strauss was able to uncover and probe the crisis at the heart of modern Jewish thought and history, perhaps with greater profundity than any other contemporary Jewish thinker.

Kenneth Hart Green is Associate Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto.


"...The wealth of material, the immediacy of Strauss's manner embodied in these papers, their philosophic range, make of this a formidable witness. The editor's introduction on 'a modern Jewish thinker' is finely judged. It places Strauss in the vital context of Maimonides, Moses Mendelssohn, Hermann Cohen, Franz Rosenzweig and the theological-political dilemmas posed by Zionism. It makes clear by implication why the very few contemporaries whom Strauss regarded as his intellectual-scholarly peers included Jacob Klein, the historian of Greek mathematics and logic, and Gershom Scholem." — Times Literary Supplement