WORLD HISTORY IN A DICTIONARY: Franz Rosenzweig on Teshuva, Metanoia, and Umkehr

Benjamin Pollock*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In this chapter, I explore Franz Rosenzweig’s account of Teshuva and Metanoia as translatable, complementary paths of self-transformation. This demands a study of Rosenzweig’s The Star of Redemption, one which inquires into the structure of the “Umkehr” the self is said to undergo there in revelation, a structure Rosenzweig implies is shared by both. I then ask both how the specific terms “Metanoia” and “Teshuva” stand to this more fundamental structure of self-transformation, and how they stand to one another, i.e., what it means for them to be translations of one another. If Teshuva and Metanoia are alternative actualizations of the shared structure of self-formation presented in revelation, we should ask why such a structure articulates itself in just these two ways. I suggest, by way of answer, that the different directions in which Teshuva and Metanoia pull highlight a tension inherent to self-transformation narratives, the tension between one’s past self and one’s new self, or-as Rosenzweig formulates it-between one’s worldly existence and one’s selfhood. But sometimes Teshuva and Metanoia are presented in the Star as the two sole basic forms through which the human being can come to confirm the ultimate redemptive truth of “the All” within her way of life, two forms whose complementarity somehow advances humanity toward redemptive unity. In such cases, we should ask: What does it mean to translate a transformative experience from the narrative of one way of life to another?.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationTransformation and the History of Philosophy
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9781003812494
ISBN (Print)9780367520885
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 selection and editorial matter G. Anthony Bruno and Justin Vlasits; individual chapters, the contributors.


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