The Phenomenon of Religion proposes a new way of seeing the bifurcation (a division into two parts or branches) within the religious phenomenon of pagan and biblical religions. In contrast to seeing the bifurcation as monotheism and polytheism, Dr. Manfred Vogel argues for viewing the separation in terms of the "Buberian bifurcation" that divides the It-dimension and the Thou-dimension. The "It-dimension meaning: entities constituting themselves in terms of physical nature, i.e. entities that ultimately ground themselves in a dimension-of-power exemplified by many of their characterizations. The "Thou-dimension" meaning: entities constituting themselves in terms of personhood, i.e. to entities that ultimately ground themselves in the dimension of consciousness. On the basis of a fundamental division in religions, this work presents the case that in contrast to pagan religion, which grounds itself exclusively within the dimension of power, biblical religion grounds itself within the dimension of consciousness-instead of having a God as a power, it gives us God as a person. This revolutionary innovation raises some serious difficulties by biblical religion retaining its hold within the dimension of power. The book proceeds to analyze in detail this problematic innovation and indeed to show that the various expressions constituting biblical religion-Halachic Judaism, Christianity, and Islam-distinguish themselves from each other by varying degrees by which they divide their grounding between power and consciousness. Dr. Vogel's conclusion on the phenomenon of religion concerns secular modernity and its influence over the history and future of religion, particularly Halachic Judaism's emancipation under the "enlightenment" of modernity.About the Author:
Manfred Vogel is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Religion at Northwestern University where he taught from 1965 to 2006. He received his rabbinical ordination in 1957 from the Jewish Theological Seminary and Ph.D. in Philosophy from Columbia University in 1963. Dr. Vogel was Visiting Professor at the Hebrew University in 1969, Tel University in 1974, Stanford University in 1987, and the Pontifical Gregorian University in 1999. He was the Littman Fellow at the Centre of Jewish Studies and Visiting Fellow at St. Cross College at Oxford University in 1980. His publications include, Feuerbach's Principles of the Philosophy of the Future; Towards a Theology of Judaism; Franz Rosenzweig on Profane History; and An Ethical Right to Life.
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