Edward K. Kaplan, Holiness in Words. Abraham Joshua Heschel's Poetics of Piety.

Albany, NY: State University of New York (SUNY) Press, 1996


Table of Contents


Abbreviations iii
Illustrations v
Acknowledgments vi

Introduction 1


Chapter One. Abraham Joshua Heschel in America: Theologian, Zaddik, Prophetic Voice 11

Writer and Teacher 13
"A Brand Plucked from the Fire" 16
Rescuing the Jewish Soul 18
A Zaddik for the 1950s 22


Chapter Two. A Reading Strategy: Empathy with Critical
Awareness 30

How To Read Heschel 32
The First Steps: Close Reading . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . 34
A Divine Perspective 39
A Prophetic Call 43
Literary and Theological Insight 45
Reading Toward Community . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49


Chapter Three. The Divine Perspective: Learning to Think
Religiously 51

The Dynamics of Theocentric Thinking 52
A Spiritual Itinerary 56
The Endless Tension 67


Chapter Four. Language and Reality: Toward a Poetics of Faith 69

The Limits of Language 73
Windows to the Spirit 77
The Perspective of the Faithless 82
The Structure of Biblical Metaphor 86
Three Dimensions of Human Fullness 92



Chapter Five. Mysticism and Despair: The Threshold of
Revelation 94

Out of the Darkness 95
Recasting Mental Habits. 98
Mystical Illumination 102
The Life of Piety 109
Resistance to Faith 112


Chapter Six. Sacred versus Symbolic Religion: Social Science or God's Will 117

Spirit versus Symbol 120
Law and Inwardness 125
Buber's Atheistic Theology? 128
Poetics and Observance 133
Becoming God's Symbol 138



Chapter Seven. Prophetic Radicalism: Sacred Humanism and
Social Action 141



Prophecy in the New World 142
Reverence for the Divine Image 147
Prophetic Ethics versus Expediency 151
Prayer and Political Courage 157
God as Touchstone 163


Chapter Eight. Confronting the Holocaust: God in Exile 166


"The Mountain of History" 171
Writing and Unspeakable Evil 179
No Post-Holocaust Theology 190


Chapter Nine. Metaphor and Miracle: Modern Faith and the Holy Spirit 194


The Historicity of Divine Inspiration 196
Contemporary Judaism and the Holy Spirit 205
Toward the Future 213



Chapter Ten. Heschel's Unfinished Symphony: Reverence,
Dismay, and Exaltation 216


A Scholarly Goldmine 219
A Personality for Our Times 221
Transcendence in Disguise 224
Interfaith Activism 227


Appendix A: Study Guide 230

Appendix B: Heschel in Germany 241

Annotated Bibliography in English 248

Endnotes 260

Index