Brilliant Scholar or Predatory Charlatan?

Steven E. Aschheim at the LARB:

MANY READERS OF LARB and other literary journals may very well never even have heard the name — let alone be aware of the thought and personality — of the idiosyncratic philosopher and religious thinker Jacob Taubes (1923–1987). Why, then, would the distinguished intellectual historian Jerry Z. Muller dedicate many years to writing a highly detailed, nuanced biography of this apparently obscure figure? It would be sufficient to show that, in the second half of the 20th century, Taubes was an immensely well-connected and putatively brilliant man, an exotic, animating presence in the Western intellectual firmament, restlessly traversing Europe, the United States, and Israel. But what gives this study its special flavor is the fascinating, quasi-erotic, well-nigh demonic nature of the man’s personality and Muller’s tantalizing connection of these features to Taubes’s philosophical ruminations and religious and historical pursuits. Given his intensity and radicalism, his wildly vacillating moods and relationships, his unending contempt for cozy and settled bourgeois liberalism, and his search for some kind of messianic universal future, the title Muller has chosen for his biography, Professor of Apocalypse: The Many Lives of Jacob Taubes, could not be more apt.

more here.