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Abraham Joshua Heschel


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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

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.


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.Feb. 14, 2014 * New York Times Sunday Book Review *
Shaid Held . . . offers a sympathetic, yet critical, examination of the thought of this influential mid-twentieth century theologian, scholar, and activist. * New Books Network *
[Held] has written a clear, persuasive, argumentative book . . . .April 2015 * Journal of Religion *
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.35.2 May 2015 * Modern Judaism *
. . . [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 *
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. * *
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 *
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 *
Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence is one of the most important works of scholarship on Heschel, resulting from serious, comprehensive, and sensitive reading. Unlike many Heschel scholars, Held has clearly immersed himself in every word of his works. At the same time, his own book is written in language that makes it quite readable. . . . One of the great contributions of Held's work is his summary and critique of the study of Heschel. From now on, no one will be able to write any creditable academic work about Heschel without referring to Held's words and notes. * Tikkun *
Shai Held's book is a master class in one of the most significant Jewish voices of our time. * Tablet *
Held has reworked his dissertation into an accessible yet carefully argued interpretation of Heschel's most fundamental anthropological and theological intuitions. * AJS REVIEW *
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 *
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 *
Held's study is a book to be savored: it is too richly detailed to be absorbed in anything but short sittings. For the reader with the patience and the necessary philosophical and theological backgrounds, reading Held's work is a decadent and enormously rewarding process to be treasured. * Jewish Book Council *
Held puts Heschel into dialogue with contemporary Jewish thinkers, Christian theologians, devotional writers, and philosophers of religion.11/12/13 * Menachem Mendel *

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