This paper examines the relevance of Rosenzweig’s theory of translation to his concept of redemption. Rosenzweig’s statements on the redemptive virtues of translation, in the afterword to his Jehuda Halevi and in “Scripture and Luther,” are well known. However, when considered in connection with the Star of Redemption as well as with the later essays, Rosenzweig’s position appears more complex than what a first reading might suggest, for he seemed to have abandoned his first definition of translation – as an imperfectly redemptive task, nevertheless providing effective understanding between the peoples – to adopt the notion of a true redemption of the tongues, be it at the expense of understanding. In what sense is translation, if at all legitimately, bound to Redemption? The paper argues that the concept of the spirit (Geist) is central to Rosenzweig’s theory of translation, and examines the metamorphoses of this concept from the Star to the later essays. It accounts for the fact that language, in a certain sense, is the true subject of redemption, and allows for new insights into the philosophy of history.
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