Katz, Steven T. 1944- (Steven Theodore Katz)
Katz, Steven T. 1944- (Steven Theodore Katz)
Born August 24, 1944, in Jersey City, NJ; son of Abraham (a pharmacist) and Mary Katz; married Rebecca Anne Horwich (a barrister at law), January 5, 1969; children: Shira, Tamar, Yehuda. Education: Rut- gers University, B.A. (with honors), 1966; New York University, M.A.; attended Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1967-72; Cambridge University, Ph.D., 1972, bachelor of divinity, 1981; Gratz College, doctor of Hebrew letters, 1987.
Home—Newton, MA. Office—Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, Boston University, 147 Bay State Rd., Boston, MA 02215. E-mail—[email protected]
Cambridge University, Cambridge, England, lecturer in Judaism and comparative religion, 1971-72; affiliated with Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, 1972-84, chairman of department of religion, 1979-81; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, professor of Near Eastern studies, 1984-96; Boston University, Boston, MA, director, Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies and professor of religion, 1996—, Alvin J. and Shirley Slater chair in Jewish and Holocaust studies, 2007. Hebrew University of Jerusalem, visiting research fellow, 1969-70, member of visiting faculty, summers, 1971-73, visiting professor, 1976-77; instructor at Rutgers University, Summer Institute in Israel, 1971; visiting senior lecturer at University of Lancaster, 1974-75; visiting professor at University of Toronto, 1978, University of California, Santa Barbara, 1981, and Yale University, 1982; visiting scholar at Harvard University's Center of Judaic Studies and Center for World Religions, 1981-82, 1983-84, 2006-08; Mason Visiting Professor at College of William and Mary, 1983; Meyerhoff Professor of Jewish History at University of Pennsylvania, 1989-90. Member of Temple University's continuing study group on "the convenantal idea and federalism," 1978—.
International Metaphysical Society, International Association of the History of Religions, World Congress of Jewish Studies, American Academy of Religion (member of executive board of philosophy of religion section, 1978—, and Judaica Section, 1988—), Association of Jewish Studies (member of executive board, 1978-82; vice president until 1982), American Academy of Jewish Philosophy, American Philosophical Association, American Society for the Study of Religion, Harvard-Berkeley Comparative Ethics Seminar, American Professors for Peace in the Middle East.
Fellow of National Foundation for Jewish Culture, 1969-70; Lakrits Prize from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1977, for work on Martin Buber; fellow of National Endowment for the Humanities, 1981-82; Frank and Ethel S. Cohen Award in Jewish Thought from Jewish Welfare Board, 1984, for Post-Holocaust Dialogues; Association of American Publishers Award for best new journal in the humanities, 1984, for Modern Judaism; best book in philosophy and thought, American Association of University Publishers, 1994, for The Holocaust in Historical Context; Leopold Lucas Prize, Tuebingen University, Tuebingen, Germany, 1999; National Jewish Book Award in anthologies and collections runner-up, 2007, for Wrestling with God; National Jewish Book Award in reference category, 2007, for Cambridge History of Judaism.
(Contributor) S. Sykes and J. Clayton, editors, Christ, Faith, and History, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1972.
Post-Holocaust Dialogues: Studies in Twentieth-Century Jewish Thought, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1983.
(Contributor) Leroy S. Rouner, editor, The Foundations of Ethics, University of Notre Dame Press (Notre Dame, IN), 1983.
Historicism, the Holocaust, and Zionism: Critical Studies in Modern Jewish Thought and History, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1992.
The Holocaust in Historical Context, Volume 1: The Holocaust and Mass Death before the Modern Age, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(And contributor) Jewish Philosophers: A History, Bloch Publishing (New York, NY), 1975.
(And contributor) Jewish Ideas and Concepts, Schocken (New York, NY), 1977.
(And contributor) Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1978.
Saadiah Gaon: Selected Essays; An Original Anthology, Ayer (Manchester, NH), 1979.
Collected Papers of Jacob Guttmann: An Original Anthology, Arno (New York, NY), 1979.
Selected Writings of Julius Guttman: An Original Anthology, Arno (New York, NY), 1979.
Studies by Samuel Horodesky: An Original Anthology, Arno (New York, NY), 1979.
Maimonides: Selected Essays; An Original Anthology, Arno (New York, NY), 1979.
Medieval Jewish Philosophy: An Original Anthology, Arno (New York, NY), 1979.
Jewish Neo-Platonism: Selected Essays; An Original Anthology, Arno (New York, NY), 1979.
(And contributor) Mysticism and Religious Traditions, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1983.
(With Sander L. Gilman) Anti-Semitism in Times of Crisis, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1991.
Mysticism and Language, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1992.
Frontiers of Jewish Thought ("B'nai B'rith History of the Jewish People" series), B'nai B'rith Books (Washington, DC), 1992.
Interpreters of Judaism in the Late Twentieth Century ("B'nai B'rith History of the Jewish People" series), B'nai B'rith Books (Washington, DC), 1993.
(And contributor) The Essential Agus: The Writings of Jacob B. Agus, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1997.
(And contributor) American Rabbi: The Life and Thought of Jacob B. Agus, New York University Press (New York, NY), 1997.
Mysticism and Sacred Scripture, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2000.
Comparative Mysticism: An Anthology of Original Sources, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2002.
The Impact of the Holocaust on Jewish Theology, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2005.
(With Alan Rosen) Obliged by Memory: Literature, Religion, Ethics; A Collection of Essays Honoring Elie Wiesel's Seventieth Birthday, Syracuse University Press (Syracuse, NY), 2006.
Cambridge History of Judaism, Volume 4: The Late Roman-Rabbinic Period, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 2006.
Wrestling with God: Jewish Theological Responses during and after the Holocaust, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 2007.
The Shtetl: New Evaluations, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2007.
American Jewry at 350, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 2008.
Contributor to New Encyclopedia of Religion, Encyclopedia of Hasidism, and Encyclopedia Judaica Yearbook. Contributor of more than seventy articles and reviews to scholarly journals.
General editor of series "Jewish Philosophy, Mysticism, and the History of Ideas: Classics of Continental Thought," sixty-five volumes, Arno (New York, NY), 1979-80, reprint series "Judaica Festschrift zu Hermann Cohens Siebzigstem Geburtstage," Ayer, 1979, Judaica series, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990—, and monograph series "Modern Jewish Masters," New York University Press; member of editorial team of "The Cambridge History of Judaism," Cambridge University Press, 1984-85, "The Cambridge History of Nineteenth-Century Religious Thought," Cambridge University Press, 1985, Encyclopedia of World Spirituality, Pacifist Press, 1988—, and Encyclopedia of the Holocaust, Macmillan, 1990; editor of Modern Judaism, 1981—.
Steven T. Katz is director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Judaic Studies, Alvin J. and Shirley Slater chair in Jewish and Holocaust studies, and a professor of religion at Boston University. He is the author and editor of seventeen books in his field, including a trio discussed by Lawrence S. Cunningham in Commonweal. According to Cunningham, Katz's Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis "argued strenuously that all mystical experience is mediated experience (religious and cultural) and, as a consequence, those that hold for the fundamental sameness in mysticism (e.g., the philosophia perennis) are wrong." In Mysticism and Religious Traditions, Cunningham said Katz and other contributors "set out to demolish the common perception that mystics are, of necessity or by vocation, peripheral to religious traditions as well as the object of suspicion."
The third book Cunningham discussed is Mysticism and Language. Contributors include Moshe Idel on Jewish mysticism, Bernard McGinn on love language in Jewish and Christian mysticism, Ninian Smart on Christian and Buddhist texts, and Bernard Faure on Chan/Zen Buddhism. Katz provides the opening essay, which offers an overview of the subjects discussed. "The particular merit of the series," wrote Cunningham, "is to set out, with rigor, a serious consideration of mysticism that is both philosophically and historically sophisticated. These volumes are not for the casual browser. Not everyone in the field of mysticism and spirituality is a ‘Katzian,’ but no person, serious about mysticism, can remain ignorant of the agenda that these volumes propose. For that reason alone, the trilogy in general and this volume in particular are welcome." A fourth book in the series, Mysticism and Sacred Scripture, was published in 2000.
The Holocaust in Historical Context, Volume 1: The Holocaust and Mass Death before the Modern Age, according to Society contributor William B. Helmreich, is "a monumental achievement … certain to become a classic in the field of Holocaust studies and Jewish history in general. Katz … argues that the Holocaust was a unique event in history and not simply the culmination of centuries of anti-Semitism. Nor was it due to the development of technology and efficiency of bureaucracy, important as these two factors may have been in the carrying out of genocidal policies. Rather, it was brought about by a fanatical ideology centered around several core ideas." Helmreich wrote that "the major contribution of Katz's work is its ability to define and explicate Hitler's ideology as representing a quantum leap that was historically unprecedented."
Mass murders of Jews prior to the Holocaust are sometimes seen as parallels. Katz puts into perspective Christian anti-Semitism, noting that during the First Crusade in 1096, between one and two percent of Jews were killed. Fewer than two thousand Jews perished during the more than two centuries of the Spanish Inquisition. The Nazis, by comparison, murdered six million Jews—sixty-five percent of the Jewish population of Europe and forty percent of Jews worldwide.
Katz provides the figures for other massacres, including the Taiping Rebellion of 1857, in which twenty million people died. During the twentieth century, Stalin killed more people than Hitler, and the number of executions under Mao is estimated to have surpassed those of Stalin. Commentary reviewer Jerry Z. Muller posed the question of how the Holocaust can be "considered unique" when compared with the killings in Russia and China. "For Katz," said Muller, "it is the ‘unconstrained, ideologically-driven Imperative’ that every Jew be ‘murdered’ which ‘distinguishes the Shoah [Holocaust] from prior and to date subsequent, however inhumane, acts of collective violence, ethnocide, and mass murder.’ The Holocaust alone is an example of genocide if that term is employed in the strict sense on which Katz insists: an attempt ‘to murder in its totality any national, racial, religious, political, social, gender, or economic group.’"
Muller said that the word "Holocaust" has been "reduced to a cliché." He pointed out that leaders of the women's rights, gay rights, and anti-abortion movements have drawn parallels between their causes and the persecution of Jews. Jack Fischel said in Commonweal that "the trivialization of the term Holocaust has reached a point where many scholars have begun to eschew the word and substituted the Hebrew Shoah in an effort to protect the history of the European Jews who were murdered by the Nazis. It would appear that one objective of Katz's superb … work is to set the historical record straight by not only examining in what ways the Shoah was unique but also to provide direction so that reasonable people can distinguish between the historic Novum known as the Holocaust and other historic examples of mass murder."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Commentary, March, 1995, Jerry Z. Muller, review of The Holocaust in Historical Context, Volume 1: The Holocaust and Mass Death before the Modern Age, p. 66.
Commonweal, August 13, 1993, Lawrence S. Cunningham, review of Mysticism and Language, p. 28; September 23, 1994, Jack Fischel, review of The Holocaust in Historical Context, Volume 1, p. 25.
Publishers Weekly, May 4, 1992, review of Frontiers of Jewish Thought, p. 52; March 7, 1994, review of The Holocaust in Historical Context, Volume 1, p. 62.
Society, July-August, 1995, William B. Helmreich, review of The Holocaust in Historical Context, Volume 1, p. 87.