Abraham Joshua Heschel

Abraham Joshua Heschel

The Call of Transcendence
Shai Held
Distribution: World
Publication date: 10/21/2013
Format: cloth 352 pages
6 x 9
ISBN: 978-0-253-01126-8
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Description

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.

Author Bio

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.

Reviews

"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 difficult to understand, pointing to both the strengths and the weaknesses of his work." —Jerusalem Post

"Shai Held’s book is a master class in one of the most significant Jewish voices of our time." —Tablet

". . . [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

"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

"In Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence, Held, a Conservative rabbi, seeks to make the case for Heschel’s contributions to Jewish religious thinking. He succeeds in distilling Heschel’s wide-ranging, idiosyncratic, and sometimes contradictory thought for the lay reader in clear and accessible prose. Most refreshing, he is unafraid to criticize aspects of Heschel’s theology that deserve censure." —Commentary

"From his perch at the Jewish Theological Seminary of New York, the Warsaw-born rabbi [Abraham Joshua Heschel] cast a long shadow over American Jewry, especially its Conservative variant, during the quarter-century after World War II. He also became a byword for American Jewish social-justice activism — most of all for the alliance between Jews and blacks." —New York Times Sunday Book Review

"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

"I recommend this book with enthusiasm for anyone interested in life’s fundamental questions, as well as in specific issues of faith, justice, and worship. The presentation is clear, careful, and pedagogically friendly. Readers can benefit from an extensive bibliography and especially the endnotes, richly argued and carefully documented, as the author concisely continues his debates with other interpreters and with Heschel himself. . . . Under the guidance of Shai Held, readers can return with increased confidence to Heschel’s . . . own writings and thus trace, and perhaps emulate, his devotion to God, amazement at existence itself, and reverence for all humankind." —
Shofar

"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

"Held has written a brilliant collection of essays that should help both theologians . . . and philosophers connect to Heschel’s work for many years to come. It should be in most academic libraries and all seminary libraries." —
AJL Reviews

"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. A powerful challenge to Jewish and Christian readers as well as those who stand outside biblical traditions, including secular readers." —Merold Westphal, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy, Fordham University

"Held puts Heschel into dialogue with contemporary Jewish thinkers, Christian theologians, devotional writers, and philosophers of religion." —
Menachem Mendel

"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

"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

"A masterful work of scholarship and careful thought. In Shai Held, Heschel has found the serious and critical reader he so richly deserves. Through Heschel, Held's work reaches out more broadly to treat us to a profound discussion of the great issues in contemporary Jewish theology." —Arthur Green, Hebrew College Rabbinical School

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
List of Abbreviations
Introduction
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
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index
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