Zarathustra or Messiah?
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Zarathustra or Messiah? book
Gershom Scholem (1887–1982), when he was 17 years’ old, wrote in his diary on the 17th of November 1914, “And what’s so wonderful about Zarathustra? [. . .] Zarathustra is in fact a new Bible, regardless of what one thinks about the ideas it propounds. To write something like it is my ideal”. The dream of the young Scholem was not so far from the reality, and it may have taken on flesh and blood in his great book Sabbatai Sevi (1957), an exemplary work which is an aesthetic retelling of the Sabbetaian revolt. But one may go further and say that the Nietzschean revolution against the Judeo-Christian morality was already exemplified as an aesthetic phenomenon in the article “Redemption through sin” written 20 years before the biography of the seventeenth-century false Messiah. Consequently, a re-examination of the early article and the biography and reading them as “A Zarathustra for the Jews” is by no means unreasonable, and it may even provide refreshing insights into the development of Scholem’s ideas and an opportunity to challenge him through an analogical perspective.