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Martina Urban

Professor Urban's discipline is Jewish Intellectual History with a focus on German Jewish thought. Her research addresses the dialectic of secularization and the revalorization of religion in modern culture. She examines approaches to religious practice, concepts, ideas, and experience in contemporary post-traditional settings, employing methods and theories from the study of religion, the sociology and philosophy of religion. Her specific interest is the ongoing process of rethinking and readjusting Judaism and Jewish identity in and to changing cultural contexts, which renders her work relevant for a number of sub-fields such as ethnic, diaspora and minority studies. Another trajectory of her research is Jewish theories of religion that creatively reconsider difference and particularity. Her book Aesthetics of Renewal: Martin Buber's Early Representation of Hasidism as  Kulturkritik (The University of Chicago Press, 2008) reads Martin Buber's appropriation of mystical teachings as an attempt to foster a new practice of reading Jewish sources to facilitate social and spiritual renewal. She is currently working on her second book: Theodicy of Culture and the Jewish Ethos: David Koigen's Contribution to the Sociology of Religion which examines the concept of ethos as a critical term for both Judaism and the study of religion.


Sanctity and Mysticism in Medieval Egypt

Aesthetics of Renewal.  Martin Buber's Representation of Hasidism as Kulturkritik.  Chicago:  The University of Chicago Press, 2008.

German Jewish Thoug ht Between Religion and Politics.     German-Jewish intellectuals have occupied center stage in the discourse on Judaism and modernity since the Enlightenment. Dedicated to Paul Mendes-Flohr, this volume explores the complex interaction between Jewish thought and the often competing claims of non-Jewish society and culture, thus creating a rich image of German Jewry’s intellectual world in the modern period. The outcome is a unique collection of essays that provides crucial new insights into the religious and political dimension characterizing the thought of those populating the pantheon of German-Jewish thinkers in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.


Forthcoming in 2012






“Facing Plurality (from Marginality): The Jewish Reception of William James in Germany,” forthcoming.

 “Towards what Kind of Unity? David Koigen, Leo Baeck and the Monism—Theism-Debate.” Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 54/1 (October 2009): 127-147

 “Persecution and the Art of Representation: Schocken’s Maimonides-Anthologies of the 1930s,” Maimonides and his Heritage. Ed. by Idit Dobbs-Weinstein, Lenn E. Goodman and James A. Grady. Albany: SUNY Press, 2009: Ch. 8, 153-179

 “Deconstruction Anticipated: Koigen and Buber on a Self-corrective Religion.” Shofar 27/4 (2009): 1-29

 “Religion of Reason Revised: David Koigen on the Jewish Ethos.” Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, 16/1 (July 2008): 59-89

 “The Jewish Library Reconfigured: Buber and the Zionist Anthology Discourse.” New Perspectives on Martin Buber/Neue Perspektiven zu Martin Buber. Ed. Michael E.J. Zank. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2006: 31-60

 “Mysticism and Sprachkritik: Buber’s Rendering of the Mystical Metaphor ’ahizat ‘enayim.” Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia. 62/2-4, João J. Vila-Chã (Ed.), Entre Razão e Revelação: A Lógica da Dimensão Semítica na Filosofia, (Abril-Decembro 2006): 535-552

 “Hermeneutics of Renewal: Biblical Imagery and Tropes of Ecstatic Experience in Buber’s Early Interpretation of Hasidism.” Studies in Spirituality15 (2005): 1-33

 “Retelling Biblical Mythos through the Hasidic Tale: Buber’s ‘Saul and David’ and the Question of Leadership.” Modern Judaism, 24/1 (February 2004): 59-78

"In Search of a ‘Narrative Anthology’: Reflections on an Unpublished Buber Manuscript." Jewish Studies Quarterly, 7/3 (2000): 252-288

 “Ständige Gegenwart. Yeshayahu Leibowitz’ ahistorische Sicht des Judentums.” La storia della filosofia ebraica, ed. Irene Kajon, Archivio di Filosofia 61, 1/3 (1993): 497-507

Selection of courses taught

RLST 112  Introduction to Judaism
RLST 203  Jewish Theories of Religion (suited also for HACTOR, GDR, DIV)
RLST 233 History and Memory in Judaism
RLST 220  Constructions of Jewish Identity in the Modern Period
JS 250  The Problem of Evil in Jewish Thought
JS 255  Zionism: Politics, Religion, and Ethnicity