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Abraham Joshua Heschel´s Philosophy of Religion 

Class at Faculty of Arts |


October 6, 2017  

Who is A. J. Heschel?

“I am a brand plucked from the fire…”  

October 20, 2017  

Heschelʼs philosophy and theology

“A philosophy that begins with radical doubt ends in radical despair.”  

October 27, 2017  

Phenomenological analysis of prophetic consciousness

“Prophecy … may be described as exegesis of existence from a divine perspective.”  

November 3, 2017  

Social action as a religious commitment

“Few are guilty, all are responsible.”  

November 10, 2017  

The Hasidic background of Heschelʼs religious philosophy

“The Baal Shem dwelled in my life like a lamp, while the Kotzker struck like lightning.”  

November 24, 2017  

The religious foundation of human existence

“Religion is … an order of being, the holy dimension of existence.”  

December 1, 2017  

Who is man?

“If man is not more than human, then he is less than human.”  

December 8, 2017  

Man is not alone. Philosophy of religion: The problem of God

“Philosophy begins with manʼs question; religion begins with Godʼs question and manʼs answer.”  

December 15, 2017  

Man is not alone. Philosophy of religion: The problem of living

“Happiness, in fact, may be defined as the certainty of being needed. But who is in need of man? … Man is needed, he is a need of God.”  

December 22, 2017  

God in search of man. Philosophy of Judaism: God and revelation

“The central thought of Judaism is the living God.”  

January 5, 2018  

God in search of man. Philosophy of Judaism: Response

“The beginning of awe is wonder, and the beginning of wisdom is awe.”


One of the most influential Jewish thinkers of the 20th century, Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) has left his imprint on various domains of human intellectual and social endeavour, from poetry, theology and philosophy to political activism and interreligious dialogue. This course will focus on his religious philosophy that is not only a rational reflection on his religious commitment as a devout Jew, but it covers in a sense all areas of his life experience, which started in a Hasidic community in pre-war Warsaw, went on at the Berlin university and in Nazi Germany, and culminated in his life-long vocation of a professor in the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

As might be clear from the syllabus, each session is devoted to specific topics highlighting different segments of Heschelʼs thought that have had their impact on the articulation of his philosophy. In the last four sessions the main principles of his general philosophy of religion and philosophy of Judaism will be discussed. Each title is illustrated with quotations from Heschelʼs texts that serve as the motto for the respective themes.