Arthur A. Cohen

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Arthur Allen Cohen (1928–1986) was an American Jewish scholar, theologian and author.

Cohen wrote The Natural and the Supernatural Jew (1962), tracing the history of Jewish theology from the late 15th century, through the German Jewish renaissance, and into what he saw as a hopeful yet troubled American Jewish scene. "Whether the Jewish genius for religion will display the tensility, urgency, and creativity to make of American Judaism something more than a boring legacy of conservation remains to be seen." (p. 178)

Cohen edited a popular reader on Jewish thought (Arguments and Doctrines) and wrote several novels, including In the Days of Simon Stern, Acts of Theft, The Carpenter Years and An Admirable Woman. He also collected rare books, founded a press, and served as an editor for several others.[1]

In 1968, he signed the “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” pledge, vowing to refuse tax payments in protest against the Vietnam War.[2]

"Arthur A. Cohen was born in 1928 and died in 1986; he wrote five novels, nine works of nonfiction, and edited five books.

"The nature of art and the psyche of an artist were persistent themes in other writings of Cohen's, along with questions of sincerity and authenticity. But his interests and activities were scattered among a number of other, seemingly unrelated, concerns. He was co-founder of the Noonday Press and founder of Meridian Books, and then editor at Holt, Rinehart & Winston, E. P. Dutton and Viking. He was also a theologian, presumably working on his contributions to the encyclopedic Contemporary Jewish Religious Thought (recently published by Charles Scribner's Sons). He collected rare books, later became a rare-book dealer, and he created the catalogues of Ex Libris on the major movements of 20th-century art. In a way he exemplified the Karl Kraus witticism about being a very famous person, but only a few people knew it. WHAT comes to mind when contemplating Arthur Cohen's career is the passage in the first volume of Mircea Eliade's autobiography where he bemoans not having an audience for all of his writings. Certainly Eliade had an audience for his works of fiction, as for his studies in religion and for his social, political and cultural criticism; but he found no one else to have exactly the same combination of interests as the ones he was equally passionate about himself. I suspect there is no one audience that shared all of Cohen's interests and, therefore, there is no common opinion remotely suggesting a consensus evaluation of his life and thought. The handsomely designed jacket of Artists & Enemies includes the announcement that this is his first posthumous book. Does that promise more to come? Fiction? Fugitive essays? Are there Journals or Notebooks or Letters in the works? Perhaps we can expect further publications to throw more revealing light on the writings of this complex artist.

In the meanwhile, let it be said that Arthur A. Cohen was a thinker and an artist who made friends and enemies."[3] April 12, 1987

Selected works[edit]



  1. ^ Morris Philipson, New York Times, April 12, 1987.
  2. ^ “Writers and Editors War Tax Protest” January 30, 1968 New York Post
  3. ^