Jerusalem and Carthage

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Abstract: In recent years, Tertullian’s iconic distinction between Jerusalem and Athens has been frequently cited as a point of departure for discussion of the relationship between the thought of the Bible and the philosophy of ancient Greece. Historically, Tertullian’s dichotomy launches a discourse based on two familiar premises: that “faith” and “reason” name distinct and opposed aspects of mankind’s intellectual endowment; and that the tradition of thought found in the Bible represents and encourages the first of these, whereas Greek philosophy embraces the second. My own view is that both of these premises are almost certainly false. In what follows, I offer preliminary remarks concerning one aspect of this topic, which is the question of whether the Bible can reasonably be seen as representing the position labeled “faith” in the Tertullianic disputation between faith and reason. In my view, the kind of faith that bears the label “Jerusalem” in the discourse inspired by Tertullian cannot be found in the Hebrew Bible at all. To speak intelligently about the thought of the Hebrew Bible and its place in the history of the West, one must learn to think in terms of an unaccustomed and very different opposition, that between Jerusalem and Carthage.

Biography: Yoram Hazony is the founder and provost of the Shalem Center, where he is presently a Director of the Institute for Philosophy, Political Theory and Religion (PPR) and a Senior Fellow. Hazony is author of The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel’s Soul (Basic Books and the New Republic, 2000) and The Dawn: Political Teachings of the Book of Esther (Shalem Press, 2000), and has written numerous articles for newspapers and magazines including The New York Times, The New Republic, Commentary, and Ha’aretz. Previous to establishing the Center in 1994, he was a member of the Jerusalem Post editorial staff, and served as a member of the Israeli delegation to the Madrid Peace Conference. Hazony received his B.A. from Princeton University in East Asian Studies, and his Ph.D. from Rutgers University in Political Philosophy. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife Yael and nine children.

Volume 3, Number 3 (Summer 2008) pp. 261