ERRATA: Some confusing or misleading terms in Robert Seltzer's translation of Martin Buber, "Religion and Philosophy"


(p. 28) "over against me"

Seltzer uses the expression "over against" for the German gegenüber, which means, simply, "opposite" or "confronting." The related German noun Gegenüber refers to someone who is opposite me, my "counterpart." At the beginning of Sec. 2, Buber speaks of my relating to the divine "as to a being opposite me, albeit not only a being opposite me." Why is the divine not merely a being that is opposite me? Because, as the next sentence says, to completely include the divine in the sphere of the human self is to eliminate its divinity.

(p. 33) passage beginning with the 3rd sentence of Sec. 4, beginning with"The principal tendency...":

Here is my alternative translation:

Rather, the principal tendency of religion is to show the essential unity of the two [salvation and essence]. Thus, the Old Testament's way of God, which is also preserved in the language of the Gospels and which is by no means to be understood as a sum of prescriptions for human conduct, but rather primarily as the way of God in and through the world, is at the same time the true sphere of the knowledge of God (since it means God's becoming visible in His action) and the way of salvation of men (since it is the prototype for the imitation of God.)

(pp. 33-34):

But beyond this it is to be noted that religion, as high as it may place that intention [i.e., that intention described in the previous sentence], does not grasp/regard it as the highest and most essential thing: What is here really intended in the intending attitude is an attitude that is freed from intention. What the search for salvation is concerned with is the effect of salvation--the "way" is the unarbitrary, consonance [Übereinstimmung: accord, being-in-accordance-with, agreement, harmony].

(p. 34, end of Sec. 4):

For the phrase "the fundamental relation of religion to the whole of life" read instead: "a fundamental sphere" (literally: "a fundamentality")

(p. 36, end of Sec. 5):

Final sentence should read: "The meaning is found by taking part, with the engagement of one's own person, in the fact that it is announced." (The word Buber uses here is not (technically) the German word for "revelation.")

(p. 44, opening of Sec. 9):

"For man beings are either Gegenüber [see my note above] or object [Gegenstand]. The essence of man arises from this twofold relation to the existent--that of encounter* and that of contemplation."

*this is the same word that is translated as "meeting" on p. 45

(p. 45, last paragraph) "images":

There is no mention of "symbols" in Buber's text; substitute the word "images" wherever the translator has used "symbols."

The sentence beginning "Symbols of Him" should read: "Images of Him--God as the content of human conceptions--always exist only when and insofar as Thou becomes He, or rather, It."

p. 46: for "symbolizes" read "means" or "represents"


Copyright © 1998-2000 Dana Hollander