Typology and the Holocaust: Erich Auerbach and Judeo-Christian Europe
In response to Nazi exclusion of the Jews from German society on racial grounds, Erich Auerbach (1892-1957), a secular Jewish intellectual inspired by cultural Protestantism and Catholicism, formed a vision of a cosmopolitan Judeo-Christian civilization that reintegrated the Jews as biblical founders and cultural mediators. But the integration expunged any mark of traditional Jewishness. Focusing on Christian figurative thinking (typology), Auerbach viewed the binding of Isaac through the crucifixion, and contemporary Jews as civilization's (unwilling and undeserving) martyrs. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, his cosmopolitanism reached a crisis, reflected in his postwar vision of Western decline. The progressive mandarin who had begun his intellectual life elevating Dante's care for everyday life and sympathizing with French realist social critique ended endorsing Hugh of St. Victor's alienation from reality and Pascal's acquiescence in totalitarian rule. © 2012 by the authors; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.
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