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
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