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Sam Berrin Shonkoff


I am a PhD candidate in History of Judaism at the University of Chicago Divinity School, working primarily with Paul Mendes-Flohr and Michael Fishbane. My writings have appeared in The Journal of ReligionThe Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy, Brill's Library of Contemporary Jewish Philosophers, and The Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception, among other academic and non-academic sources. I also contributed the essay on Buber for the forthcoming volume A New Hasidism: Roots, edited by Arthur Green and Ariel Mayse (Jewish Publication Society), and I am the editor of a forthcoming volume on Buber's intellectual and scholarly legacy (Brill). Before coming to the University of Chicago, I earned an MA in Religion and Jewish Studies from the University of Toronto and a BA in Religious Studies from Brown University (magna cum laude). I also serve currently as the Managing Editor of The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy.   

Sacramental Existence: Embodiment in Martin Buber's Philosophical and Hasidic Writings My dissertation offers the first extensive hermeneutical study of Buber's Hasidic tales vis-à-vis the original sources. In treating the tales as exegetical discourse, I demonstrate that the intertextual tensions between original sources and Buber’s renditions of them illuminate the contours of his own religious mind. Specifically, I indicate how he employed the media of Hasidic narrative to articulate his most radical theological sensibilities—a wholly post-doctrinal and non-noetic mode of religious thought that I call his "embodied theology." More generally, in tracing how Buber selected, altered, and anthologized Hasidic teachings in a post-secular key for a diverse and cosmopolitan audience, my project serves also as a case study for broader reflections on the hermeneutics of religion in the modern world.