Divinity School

Religion and reasoning

Paul Mendes-Flohr, professor of modern Jewish thought in the Divinity School, arrived at the University of Chicago in 1999. His research interests include modern Jewish intellectual history, philosophy, and religious thought; philosophy of religion; German intellectual history; and the history and sociology of intellectuals.

Mendes-Flohr is particularly well known for his scholarship on Jewish thinker Martin Buber. He wrote his dissertation on Buber and then, while teaching at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, became an adviser to the Martin Buber literary estate. He has published new editions of several Buber works, as well as a compilation of Buber's voluminous writings on Arab-Jewish relations in Palestine titled A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs (University of Chicago Press, 2005). In his introduction, Mendes-Flohr emphasizes Buber's conviction that philosophy and faith were inseparable from politics: For Buber, "politics was an essential dimension of the life of dialogue and service to God," he writes. Politics, Buber affirmed, "is neither extraneous to the 'life of the spirit' nor is it simply an unavoidable task imposed upon us by the exigencies of history."

Together with Peter Schäfer and Bernd Witte, Mendes-Flohr also serves as editor in chief of the 22-volume German edition of Buber's collected works.

Sample Mendes-Flohr's preface and introduction to the 2005 edition of A Land of Two Peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs, available in Google Preview at the University of Chicago Press website.

Learn more about the life and work of Martin Buber.

Read Mendes-Flohr's 2008 essay "The Kingdom of God. Martin Buber's Critique of Messianic Politics."

See scholar Gregory Kaplan's response to Mendes-Flohr's commentary "The Desert Within and Social Renewal: Martin Buber's Vision of Utopia."

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