Pupil and Master
To the Editor:
David Baumgardt’s “Maimonides: Religion as Poetic Truth” (November 1954), brought me back to the time of his brilliant teaching at Berlin University when I was his pupil in ancient philosophy. But as he states himself, it would be “small gratitude to one’s teacher to want to be nothing but his pupil,” and it is out of respect for the master that I demur at some of his conclusions. He is right when he declares that our traditional religious poetry is a more adequate expression of the sphere of holiness than the most ingenious definitions of God’s attributes—“Spricht die Seele, ach! so spricht die Seele nicht mehr.” It was not until Schleicrmacher that religion was conceived as a spiritual experience sui generis. But Maimonides, although rationalist, doesn’t deny the authority of poetic and even anthropomorphic language. He only warns against a literal acceptance of Biblical anthropomorphism, and, on the other side, while he explains the philosophical meaning of the Biblical vocabulary, he defends it against superficial criticism and stresses the authority of our prophets’ message.
(Dr.) Ch. C. Lehrmann
Grand Rabbinat du Grand-Duché de