NEW BOOK> "Jewish Encounters with Buddhism in German Culture – Between Moses and Buddha, 1890-1940" by Sebastian Musch (Palgrave Macmillan)

A. Charles Muller's picture
by Sebastan Musch

Sebastian Musch (Osnabrueck University): "Jewish Encounters with Buddhism in German Culture – Between Moses and Buddha, 1890-1940", Palgrave Series in Asian German Studies, Palgrave Macmillan 2019.

In his new book with Palgrave Macmillan Dr. Sebastian Musch traces the entanglement of Buddhism and Judaism in German culture from the turn of the century up to World War II.

In Germany at the turn of the century, Buddhism transformed from an obscure topic, of interest to only a few misfit scholars, into a cultural phenomenon. Many of the foremost authors of the period were profoundly influenced by this rapid rise of Buddhism—among them, some of the best-known names in the German-Jewish canon. Sebastian Musch excavates this neglected dimension of German-Jewish identity, drawing on philosophical treatises, novels, essays, diaries, and letters to trace the history of Jewish-Buddhist encounters up to the start of the Second World War. Franz Rosenzweig, Martin Buber, Leo Baeck, Theodor Lessing, Jakob Wassermann, Walter Hasenclever, and Lion Feuchtwanger are featured alongside other, lesser known figures like Paul Cohen-Portheim and Walter Tausk. As Musch shows, when these thinkers wrote about Buddhism, they were also negotiating their own Jewishness.

The book contributes  to the emerging field of Asian-German Studies and appeals to scholars of Jewish Studies, German Studies, Orientalism, and Postcolonial Studies.


  1. 1  Introduction 1

  2. 2  Buddhism and German-Jewish Orientalism 19

  3. 3  The Buddha, the Rabbis, and the Philosophers: Rejections
    and Defenses 41

  4. 4  The Bridgebuilders: Jewishness Between Asia and Europe 101

  5. 5  The Assimilation and Dissimilation of a Buddhist Jew:

    Walter Tausk’s Contested Identities 189

6 Conclusion: Toward the Study of Jewish-Buddhist Relations 245

Bibliography 255

Index  281


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