Inventing New Beginnings is the first book-length study to examine the conceptual underpinnings of the "Jewish Renaissance," or "return" to Judaism, that captured much of German-speaking Jewry between 1890 and 1938. The book addresses two very fundamental, yet hitherto strangely understated, questions: What did the term "renaissance" actually mean to the intellectuals and ideologues of the "Jewish Renaissance," and how did this understanding relate to wider currents in European intellectual and cultural history of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries? It also addresses the larger question of how we can contemplate "renaissance" as a mode of thought that is conditioned by the consciousness and experience of modernity and that extends to our present time.
About the author
Asher D. Biemann is Assistant Professor for Modern Jewish Thought and Intellectual History at the University of Virginia. He is the editor of The Martin Buber Reader (2002) and the author of a critical edition of Martin Buber's Sprachphilosophische Schriften (2003).
"In Inventing New Beginnings: On the Idea of Renaissance in Modern Judaism, Asher Biemann invited his readers to rethink time . . . The book exemplifies the merits of meticulous problematizing without imposing answers. Beginning-anew is also a celebration of heritage, continuity, and seld-ascertainment, which is especially vital for marginalized minorities. Living with a fractured past can obtain a redemptive quality provided that it remains subject to retemporalizations of time rather than (elusive) radical new beginnings."
—Martina Urban, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
"This is an ambitious book of immense complexity . . . certainly worthy of critical reflection."
—Michael A. Meyer, American Historical Review.