Abraham Heschel and the Phenomenon of Piety

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2013-12-19
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury T&T Clark

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Piety is often regarded with a pejorative bias: a "pious" person is thought to be overly religious, supercilious even. Yet historically the concept of piety has played an important role in Christian theology and practice. For Abraham Heschel, piety describes the contours of a life compatible with God's presence. While much has been made of Heschel's concept of pathos, relatively little attention has been given to the pivotal role of piety in his thought, with the result that the larger methodological implications of his work for both Jewish and Christian theology have been overlooked.

Grounding Heschel's work in Husserl, Dilthey, Schiller and Heidegger, the book explores his phenomenological method of "penetrating the consciousness of the pious person in order to perceive the divine reality behind it." The book goes on to consider the significance of Heschel's methodology in view of the theocentric ethics of Gustafson and Hauerwas and the post-modern context reflected in the works of Levinas, Vattimo, Marion and the Radical Orthodoxy movement.

Author Biography

Joseph Britton is President and Dean of the Berkeley Divinity School at Yale, where he teaches Anglican history and theology as the McFaddin Associate Professor (Adjunct) of Pastoral Theology. He completed his doctoral studies at the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Table of Contents

The Nature of Piety \ 1 Introduction: Piety as a point of departure \ 2 The Concept of Piety \ The Intellectual Foundations of Heschel's Theology \ 3 The Contours and Influence of Heschel's Theology \ 4 Beyond Rationalism to Understanding \ 5 Polarity as a Fundamental Attribute of Piety \ Heschel's Studies of Piety \ 6 A Phenomenology of Piety: The Orientation of the Individual to the Transcendent \ 7 Piety as a Mode of Understanding \ 8 Piety as an Ethical Concept \ 9 Piety as a response to the "Other" \ The Pertinence of Piety in Theological Reflection \ 10 Engaging Contemporary Issues in Theology \ Conclusion: Indications of Piety for a Relational Theology \ Bibliography \ Index

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