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Posted November 7, 2005

Book: Divine Pathos and Human Being: The Theology of Abraham Joshua Heschel
Author: Michael A. Chester
Vallentine Mitchell, Portland, OR, pp. 228

[For anyone interrested in the Prophets, Heschel’s two volumes on them is a most read]

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a refugee scholar from Hitler’s Europe, became a significant Jewish theologian and a well-known activist in the United States of America. In the years since his death his contribution to theology has increased in its impact, and there is today a renaissance of interest in his works.

This book begins with a brief biography, which puts his work into context personally, culturally and historically. An analysis of his style and method of presentation leads into a discussion of Heschel’s place in the tradition and discipline of theology, with an examination of his ‘depth theology’. There follows a presentation of his major legacy to modern theology – the ‘divine pathos’ – and the theological anthropology that is entirely dependent upon it, and makes an important contribution to the ongoing and urgent question of what it means to be human. The final chapter examines various responses to Heschel, which range from uncritical adulation to condemnation, from Christian and Jewish theologians and commentators, and gives reason for his enduring appeal and importance.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Human is he who is concerned with other selves. Man is a being that can never be self-sufficient, not only by what he must take in but also by what he must give out. A stone is self-sufficient, man is self-surpassing. Always in need of other beings to give himself to, man cannot even be in accord with his own self unless he serves something beyond himself. The peace of mind attainable in solitude is not the result of ignoring that which is not the self or escaping from it, but of reconciliation with it.

Table of Contents:

1. Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1907-1972

2. Poetry, Rhetoric, Philosophy, or Theology?

3. The Divine Pathos and Human Being

4. The Impact of Heschel