Divine pathos and human being : Abraham Joshua Heschel's understanding of what it means to be human in the light of his view of the divine pathos
Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972), a refugee scholar from Hitler's Europe, became a significant Jewish theologian and a famous social activist in the United States of America. The thesis begins with a brief biography, which puts his work into context, personally, culturally, and historically. There follows an examination of the style and method of presentation of Heschel's thought, asking why it is that some commentators reject him as a serious thinker. He is then located within the tradition and discipline of theology, with an examination of what he calls "depth-theology". Part II begins with an examination of Heschel's major contribution to modem theology-"the divine pathos"-and its place in the impassibility/passibility controversy. Its influence on other (Christian) theologians is demonstrated, together with a response to major criticism (from Eliezer Berkovits). Heschel's theological anthropology is then shown to be entirely dependent upon the concept of the divine pathos, and to have lasting value. Finally, the thesis explores Heschel's commitment to interfaith dialogue (specifically with Christians) made possible by the universal applicability of his insights into the nature of God, humankind, and the relationship between them.