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Jews and the Ends of Theory$
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Shai Ginsburg, Martin Land, and Jonathan Boyarin

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780823282005

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823282005.001.0001

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Old Testament Realism in the Writings of Erich Auerbach

Old Testament Realism in the Writings of Erich Auerbach

(p.187) Chapter 8 Old Testament Realism in the Writings of Erich Auerbach
Jews and the Ends of Theory

James I. Porter

Fordham University Press

This chapter studies the work of the German literary critic Erich Auerbach, who wrote in response to the historical upheaval of the mid-twentieth century as a form of historical engagement. In his work, Auerbach endeavors to portray the evolution of historical consciousness in the West and the discovery of the human and social worlds it yielded. He reflects on this evolution in relating the narrative of realism. In this account, realism is not a literary genre, but rather the evolving recognition of human consciousness of its own conditions, the growing awareness, that is, that reality and the real inhere in the sensuous, the mundane, and the human. At the center of this narrative, Auerbach places Judaism and its heritage rather than Christianity. For Auerbach, history and historical consciousness first appear in the Jewish biblical stories, which provide in turn the structure and the framework for all subsequent expressions of historical thought and experience.

Keywords:   Erich Auerbach, historical consciousness, realism, Judaism, Christianity, Jewish biblical stories

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