Holiness in Words: Abraham Joshua Heschel's Poetics of Piety


A strategy for reading Heschel's major works, as well as a new route to understanding religious writing in general: a lucid study of modern religious and ethical thought using literary criticism.
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A strategy for reading Heschel's major works, as well as a new route to understanding religious writing in general: a lucid study of modern religious and ethical thought using literary criticism.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
The book traces the major themes of his “depth theology,” awe and radical amazement, the meaning of symbol, ritual, prayer, and mystical insight. Historical and biographical information clarifies Heschel’s implicit polemic with Martin Buber and a supplemental study guide provides sources for each chapter and suggestions for further thought and discussion.
Kaplan (French and comparative literature, Brandeis U.) investigates Jewish philosopher Heschel's (1907-72) writings in English, focusing on his theory of literary language in order to elucidate the narrative strategy he used to teach God-centered or prophetic thinking. He traces the major themes of Heschel's depth theology: awe and radical amazement, the meaning of symbol, ritual, prayer, and mystical insight, and shows how they apply to today's spiritual and social problems. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Edward K. Kaplan is Professor of French and Comparative Literature and Research Associate at the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry at Brandeis University. In addition to books on the French writers Jules Michelet and Charles Baudelaire, he has published extensively on Abraham Joshua Heschel, Thomas Merton, and Howard Thurman.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Foreword by Michael Fishbane




Theologian, Zaddik, Prophetic Voice
Writer and Teacher
"A Brand Plucked from the Fire"
Rescuing the Jewish Soul
A Zaddik for the 1950s

Empathy with Critical Awareness
How to Read Heschel
The First Steps: Close Reading
A Divine Perspective
Prophetic Call
Literary and Theological Insight
Reading toward Community

Learning to Think Religiously
The Dynamics of Theocentric Thinking
A Spiritual Itinerary
The Endless Tension

Toward a Poetics of Faith
Against Fundamentalisms
The Limits of Language
Windows to the Spirit
The Perspective of the Faithless
The Structure of Biblical Metaphor
Three Dimensions of Human Fullness

The Threshold of Revelation
Out of the Darkness
Recasting Mental Habits
Mystical Illumination
The Life of Piety
Resistance to Faith

Social Science or God's Will?
Spirit versus Symbol
Law and Inwardness
Buber's Atheistic Theology?
Poetics and Observance
Becoming God's Symbol

Sacred Humanism and Social Action
Prophecy in the New World
Reverence for the Divine Image
Prophetic Ethics versus Expediency
Prayer and Political Courage
God as Touchstone

God in Exile
"The Mountain of History"
Writing and Unspeakable Evil
No Post-Holocaust Theology

Modern Judaism and the Holy Spirit
The Historicity of Divine Inspiration
Contemporary Judaism and God's Presence
Toward the Future

Reverence, Dismay, and Exaltation
A Scholarly Goldmine
A Personality for Our Times
Transcendence in Disguise
Interfaith Activism

Appendix A: Study Guide
Appendix B: Heschel in Germany


Annotated Bibliography in English


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