Abraham Joshua Heschel
The Call of Transcendence
Publication Year: 2013
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) was a prolific scholar, impassioned theologian, and prominent activist who participated in the black civil rights movement and the campaign against the Vietnam War. He has been hailed as a hero, honored as a visionary, and endlessly quoted as a devotional writer. In this sympathetic, yet critical, examination, Shai Held elicits the overarching themes and unity of Heschel’s incisive and insightful thought. Focusing on the idea of transcendence—or the movement from self-centeredness to God-centeredness—Held puts Heschel into dialogue with contemporary Jewish thinkers, Christian theologians, devotional writers, and philosophers of religion.
Published by: Indiana University Press
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I have accumulated a great many debts in the long and drawn- out process of producing this book. I wish to offer especial thanks to the following Professor Jon Levenson has been a significant teacher, valued men-tor, and cherished friend for two decades now. My thinking in general and this work in particular have been immeasurably enriched by his in-...
Abbreviations: Works by Abraham Joshua Heschel
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Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–1972) was one of the most influential religious fig ures of the twentieth century. A prolific scholar, he wrote important works on the whole history of Jewish thought; an eloquent and impassioned theologian, he penned several classics of modern Jew-ish theology and spirituality; a prominent activist, he spoke out in theo-...
1 Wonder, Intuition, and the Path to God
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Abraham Joshua Heschel begins his discussion of wonder in God in Search of Man by declaring that “among the many things that religious tradition holds in store for us is a legacy of wonder.”1 This opening sentence ends with something of a surprise: one might have expected Heschel to invoke a legacy of “fidelity,” “commitment,” or “piety.” But wonder? ...
2 Theological Method and Religious Anthropology: Heschel among the Christians
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What kind of theologian was Heschel? Since, like many Jewish think-ers, Heschel talks very little about theological method, it falls to us to piece together what he is doing. With his strong theocentric thrust, Heschel can at moments sound very much like his contemporary, the neo- Orthodox Protestant theologian Karl Barth (1886–1968). Consider, ...
3 Revelation and Co-Revelation
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If wonder leads to a sense that “something is asked of us,” revelation seeks to address the obvious next question: what, precisely, is asked of us? “The Bible,” Heschel writes, “is an answer to the supreme question: what does God demand of us? Yet the question has gone out of the world.”1 In a spiritually robust environment, in other words, the experience of ...
4 The Pathos of the Self-Transcendent God
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In talking to a group of Jewish educators in 1968, Heschel warned of an “insidious danger” that constituted nothing less than a “block to Jewish theology”; “I refer,” he said, “to the Hellenization of Jewish theology.”1 This process, which began as early as Philo (20 b.ac.ae–50 c.ae), was based on the dangerously misleading assumption that, at bottom, “Plato and ...
5 "Awake, Why Sleepest Thou, O Lord?": Divine Silence and Human Protest in Heschel's Writings
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Auschwitz is in our veins. It abides in the throbbing of our hearts. It burns in our The ultimate meaning of God’s ways is not invalidated because of man’s in-capacity to comprehend it; nor is our anguish silenced because of the certainty In his posthumously published A Passion for Truth, Heschel speaks of the Kotzker Rebbe’s anger at God. Enraged by hypocrisy and deceit, ...
6 The Self That Transcends Itself: Heschel on Prayer
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Heschel’s final work, A Passion for Truth (1973), is a vivid portrayal of the Hasidic master Reb Menahem Mendl of Kotzk (1787–1859), known above all for his zealous pursuit of truth and integrity in the religious life. One of the central preoccupations of both the Kotzker and his biographer is their insistence that falsehood and self- centeredness are inextricably ...
7 Enabling Immanence: Prayer in a Time of Divine Hiddenness
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In his essay “On Prayer,” published in 1970, Heschel speaks again of the centrality of self- transcendence to the act of prayer. He writes that in prayer, “I leave the world behind as well as all interests of the self. Di-vested of all concerns, I am overwhelmed by only one desire: to place my heart upon the altar of God.”1 Prayer, Heschel insists, “must never be a ...
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In what ways does our investigation advance our understanding of the unity and direction of Abraham Joshua Heschel’s overall project? How have we uncovered the animating core of his ostensibly diverse and even contradictory claims? We can begin to answer this by noting a dimension of his thought that is too oft en overlooked: Heschel sought ...
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Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2013