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Jewish Studies as CounterlifeA Report to the Academy$
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Adam Zachary Newton

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780823283958

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2020

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823283958.001.0001

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Mochlos or Makhlokes: JS and the Humanities

Mochlos or Makhlokes: JS and the Humanities

(p.87) Chapter 3 Mochlos or Makhlokes: JS and the Humanities
Jewish Studies as Counterlife

Adam Zachary Newton

Fordham University Press

Makhlokes” (Ashkenazi pronunciation) connotes “dissensus,” “separation,” “faction,” “dispute” (like German “Streit” in Kant’s Conflict of the Faculties). Its trilateral root חלק‎ HLK can signify either “to divide” or “to be smooth or viscous.” How, in light of this Mishnaic concept, does JS position itself with respect to academic humanities: as a mode or leverage, or at a node of energetic conflict and contestation? A conservative, polemical answer to that question was posed thirty years ago by the late and prodigious scholar of rabbinic Judaism Jacob Neusner in several books about the disciplines, research methodologies, and modes of Jewish Studies in specific relation to the “new Humanities.” A wealth of reformulation has accrued to the latter term in the last decade or so. This chapter reopens and reorients Neusner’s presentation of the case vis-à-vis a contemporaneous deployment of the same term by Derrida.

Keywords:   Derrida, disciplines, ethnic, humanities, Jacob Neusner, rabbinics, readings

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