Synopses & Reviews
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.
"A masterful work of scholarship and careful thought. In Shai Held, Heschel has found the serious and critical reader he so richly deserves.
"Held's study of Heschel's thought is a well-researched and long-needed volume that presents a systematic account of Heschel's ideas, clarifying many things that are obscure or difcult to understand, pointing to both the strengths and the weaknesses of his work." --Jerusalem Post Indiana University Press
"Presents a highly compelling theory about the core principles of Heschel's corpus that demands that his thought be studied anew." --Robert Erlewine, Illinois Wesleyan University
"In this lucid and learned account, Abraham Joshua Heschel emerges as a dialectical thinker who holds together such "opposites" as theology and spirituality, the transcendence and self-transcendence of God, the presence and absence of God, the humanity and divinity of the Bible, and prayer as praise and lament.
"This is an important book for everyone who wants to understand one of the most significant religious thinkers of modern times. It brings the man whom Reinhold Neibuhr described as 'one of Eastern Europe's greatest spiritual gifts to America' to the attention of a new generation, which needs his warning and his vision." --JNS.org
"Shai Held's book is a master class in one of the most significant Jewish voices of our time." --Tablet
"Heschel's work and thought have rarely been subjected to careful, critical exploration. Shai Held's book is a watershed in this regard. It is philosophically and theologically sophisticated, leaves no stone unturned in its effort to clarify the main themes and foundational commitments that shaped Heschel's thinking, and employs a rich array of contextual factors, including attention to developments in Christian theology and philosophical thinking." --Michael L. Morgan, Indiana University Bloomington
"In this lucid and elegant study, one of the keenest minds in Jewish theology in our time probes the vision of one of the most profound spiritual writers of the twentieth century, uncovering a unity that others have missed and shedding light not only on Heschel but also on the characteristically modern habits of mind that impede the knowledge of God. The book is especially valuable for the connections it draws with other philosophers, theologians, and spiritual writers, Jewish and Christian. Enthusiastically recommended!" --Jon D. Levenson, Harvard University
"Heschel's work had a profound impact on American Jewish readers, and he was a social critic as well as a visionary theologian, fighting for civil rights and fiercely condemning the Vietnam War. The influence of Heschel's writings and activism thus extended beyond the Jewish community... Shai Held's book, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence, is a sophisticated interpretation of Heschel's theology." --Modern Judaism
"Rabbi Held's... writing style fits his subject. He's clear and eloquent, attuned to capture and explicate Rabbi Heschel's complexity." --New York Jewish Week
"Held has reworked his dissertation into an accessible yet carefully argued interpretation of Heschel's most fundamental anthropological and theological intuitions." --AJS REVIEW
"Held puts Heschel into dialogue with contemporary Jewish thinkers, Christian theologians, devotional writers, and philosophers of religion." --Menachem Mendel
"... [a] thoughtful, illuminating new study of Heschel's thought.... It is one of the many virtues of Shai Held's book that it helps us to place Heschel alongside not only Kaplan but Halevi, Horovitz, and Rav Nahman--as well as the Psalmist." --Jewish Review of Books
About the Author
Shai Held is Dean and Chair of Jewish Thought at Mechon Hadar, an institute for Jewish prayer, personal growth, and Jewish study which he co-founded. He is winner of a 2011 Covenant Award for excellence in Jewish education, and Newsweek has twice named him one of America's most influential rabbis.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviations
1. Wonder, Intuition, and the Path to God
2. Theological Method and Religious Anthropology: Heschel among the Christians
3. Revelation and Co-Revelation
4. The Pathos of the Self-Transcendent God
5. "Awake, Why Sleepest Thou, O Lord?" Divine Silence and Human Protest in Heschel's Writings
6. The Self that Transcends Itself: Heschel on Prayer
7. Enabling Immanence: Prayer in a Time of Divine Hiddenness