“The Challenge of the ‘Caring’ God: A. J. Heschel’s ‘Theology of Pathos’ in light of Eliezer Berkovits’s Critique”

Zehuyot 8:43-60 (2017)

Nadav Berman Shifman
Harvard University
This article examines A.J. Heschel’s “Theology of pathos” in light of the critique Eliezer Berkovits raised against it. Heschel’s theology of pathos is the notion of God as the “most moved mover”, who cares deeply for humans, and thus highly influencing their prophetic motivation for human-social improvement. Berkovits, expressing the negative-transcendent theology of Maimonides, assessed that Heschel’s theology of pathos is not systematic, is anthropomorphic, and reflects a foreign Christian influence. However, when checking Berkovits’s own views as a thinker, it turns out that he formulated some immanent theological notions that were overlapping those of Heschel, for example in attributing God the personal trait of caring. Surprisingly, most Heschel’s scholars did not consider this point. This riddle addressed here in two ways: (1) Psychological and Social, on which I understand Berkovits’s critique as a way of coping with his own religious perplexities, and in a wider sense, it is asserted that trans-denominational critique may be a discursive opportunity for mutual corrigibility. (2) Theological, since Heschel and Berkovits indeed faced a similar theological challenge, of rejecting any description of God as anthropomorphism. I thus offer a constructive theological argument for providing a justification to the immanent theologies of both Heschel and Berkovits.
Keywords Modern Theology  Encounter Theology  Abraham Joshua Heschel  Eliezer Berkovits  Dispute and agreement
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Translate to english
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

“The Rejection of Radical-Foundationalism and -Skepticism: Pragmatic Belief in God in Eliezer Berkovits’s Thought”.Nadav Berman Shifman - 2019 - Journal of the Goldstein-Goren International Center for Jewish Thought 1 (2019):201-246.
God, Being, Pathos.Daniel Herskowitz - 2018 - Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 26 (1):94-117.
Abraham J. Heschel e a mística do pathos divino.Edson Fernando de Almeida - 2019 - Horizonte - Revista de Estudos de Teologia E Ciências da Religião 17 (52):132-147.


Added to PP index

Total views
21 ( #441,754 of 2,286,101 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
21 ( #41,510 of 2,286,101 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature