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Man Is Not Alone: A Philosophy of Religion

4.36  ·  Rating Details ·  347 Ratings  ·  20 Reviews
Man Is Not Alone is a profound, beautifully written examination of the ingredients of piety: how man senses God's presence, explores it, accepts it, and builds life upon it. Abraham Joshua Heschel's philosophy of religion is not a philosophy of doctrine or the interpretation of a dogma. He erects his carefully built structure of thought upon foundations which are universa
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 1st 1976 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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Aug 25, 2009 Matthew rated it really liked it
It's been over half a year now since I last reviewed anything here on Goodreads. There are a number of things that have kept me away (moving across the country, working on a novel, having a baby, etc.) but mainly -- if I'm honest -- the thing that's kept me silent has been the prospect of critiquing this book.

For one thing, I'm about as qualified to comment seriously on a treatise on Jewish theology as I am to, let's say, fact-check a textbook about string theory. For another, it's the thought
Julie Davis
Aug 17, 2015 Julie Davis rated it it was amazing
Oh. my. goodness.

Heschel takes reason and the ineffable, God and man, faith and reality and life ... and writes about them in a way we all recognize and yet that opens my mind anew. I read some paragraphs two or three times, feeling them sink in deeper each time.
The search of reason ends at the shore of the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding. Neither of them is amp
Simcha Wood
Oct 15, 2011 Simcha Wood rated it it was amazing
This is not the sort of book one reads and then shoves back on the shelf to collect dust. It is, instead, one of those rare works which will constantly call the reader back, if only to glance over a page or two. Heschel's book is subtitled A Philosophy of Religion but it might have as accurately been subtitled A Poetics of Religion. Heschel is very much the philosopher poet.

Heschel is the sort of theologian the modern world needs. He is a deeply religious man who has no illusions about the diffi
Oct 01, 2010 Ronen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: religion
Amazing book, stirred me to my soul. I feel quite under-qualified to give anything more than a personal impression, and even for that I think I should read the book again, and more in depth.

"Walking upon a rock that is constantly crumbling away behind every step, man cannot restrain his bitter yearning to know whether life is nothing but a series of momentary physiological and mental processes, actions, and forms of behavior, a flow of vicissitudes, desires and sensations, running like grains th
Evan Taylor
Abraham Heshel in this novel brings to light the intricate values of faith, specifically for Judaism. I have learned much from reading this book in regards to my own spiritual journey and in regards to my relationships with others. I checked out this book from the library, but will definitely have to buy a copy for myself, for there were many quotes, ideas and Scriptures mentioned throughout the book that I would like to always have immediate access to. If there is anyone out there trying to ans ...more
Mark Tibbs
Jul 21, 2014 Mark Tibbs rated it really liked it
The majority of this book is note-taking fodder for the soul. The parts that I took exception to were few and not worth discounting the brilliance of this work. Such as this, p.245, "There is an eternal cry in the world: God is beseeching man. Some are startled; others remain deaf. We are all looked for. An air of expectancy hovers over life. Something is asked of man, of all men."
Good stuff =)
Jan 07, 2014 Louis rated it it was amazing
Poetic and sober observations of the human condition while pointing to an ineffable reason for hope.
Feb 08, 2008 richard rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: carly
Good Jewish rabbi/scholar. Hard at some points. Very uplifting.
Sep 09, 2015 Jayme rated it really liked it
About 3.9 stars I'd say (just...this five star system does not work for me. I'd love a ten star system)

In the realm of philosophy and theology, Heschel's writing isn't as riveting or entertaining as, say, Lewis' or Chesterton's, but it is strong and purposeful. I really appreciate his books. This was a very slow read for me, but a good one and I do recommend it. It has some loose (very loose) parallels to Mere Christianity (Mere Judaism?) in that it goes from why anyone would believe in the supe
Patrick Frownfelter
Jan 06, 2012 Patrick Frownfelter rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosophy
I am completely floored after reading this book. Heschel, a Jewish theologian, communicates in a way that very few, if any, Christian theologians today understand God (though some have clearly been inspired by this man).

I think the big thing that I'm taking away from this book is the connections that exist here between Judaism and Christianity. To ignore our Jewish roots as Christians is to commit a great error in our thinking we are so independent. For example, when Heschel speaks of the Shech
Artur Benchimol
Jan 01, 2014 Artur Benchimol rated it really liked it
Heschel puts together a full and complex portrait of religion and the Jewish religion. Not an easy read at all, but it surely elucidates many questions about religion and puts some clarity for those who want to understand better those who believe in religion.

Central ideas like monotheism, ethics, the ineffable, morality, are all present here in their universal and Jewish versions. Liked the book. Some parts could be used to elucidate and inspire most people, some parts are not for everyone.
Jan 01, 2009 Lee rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: philosophical Jews
I liked this book for its simplicity and its truth. It does keep saying the same thing over and over again, but that's only because anything is everything else in disguise. The unique things it says informed me more fully as to the particular strengths of Judiasm. I am looking forward to reading the companion book "God in Search of Man."
Jun 25, 2012 Martin rated it it was amazing
Somewhat easier reading than its big brother, "God in Search of Man". I still needed a dictionary open while reading it.

I was surprised how Rabbi Heschel can stay clear of specific religious issues and just deal with our common humanity, and God's role in it, as well as our role in God's plan and creation.

Heschel's writings seem to appeal to Christians as well as Jews, and this book is likely to appeal to anyone who is interested in spirituality.
Sep 11, 2016 Alex rated it really liked it
I feel like I read the end of this book after too long a gap from the rest of it but every page was still Heschel through and through- piercingly confident descriptions that challenge you on every page to either agree with his (often inspiring) perspective or to carefully examine the source of the disagreement.
Aug 30, 2013 Martin rated it it was amazing
A wonderfully written book that could easily win readers of any religious confession - as well as atheists. Contains a tiny bit about Judaism; the rest of it is just about faith, God, and man. Very deeply enlightening and inspiring.
Dec 18, 2010 Marta rated it it was amazing
I didn't finish this book but I definitely want to return to it. The ideas in the book are worth pondering over a lifetime.
Sep 02, 2008 Greg rated it really liked it
Any person wanting to know God will benefit from this work of Heschel.
Oct 25, 2007 Bob rated it it was amazing
Shelves: world-religions
A great philosopher teacher who shares his insights. I use this often.
Lee Staman
Dec 16, 2013 Lee Staman rated it it was amazing
Shelves: theology
Possibly the best book on God and the encounter with the divine.
Feb 09, 2008 Brandon rated it it was ok
I had to stop reading. This guy doesn't make much sense.
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Heschel was a descendant of preeminent rabbinic families of Europe, both on his father's (Moshe Mordechai Heschel, who died of influenza in 1916) and mother's (Reizel Perlow Heschel) side, and a descendant of Rebbe Avrohom Yehoshua Heshl of Apt and other dynasties. He was the youngest of six children including his siblings: Sarah, Dvora Miriam, Esther Sima, Gittel, and Jacob. In his teens he recei ...more
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“The Search for reason ends at the known; on the immense expanse beyond it only the sense of the ineffable can glide. It alone knows the route to that which is remote from experience and understanding. Neither of them is amphibious: reason cannot go beyond the shore, and the sense of the ineffable is out of place where we measure, where we weigh. We do not leave the shore of the known in search of adventure or suspense or because of the failure of reason to answer our questions. We sail because our mind is like a fantastic seashell, and when applying our ear to its lips we hear a perpetual murmur from the waves beyond the shore. Citizens of two realms, we all must sustain a dual allegiance: we sense the ineffable in one realm, we name and exploit reality in another. Between the two we set up a system of references, but we can never fill the gap. They are as far and as close to each other as time and calendar, as violin and melody, as life and what lies beyond the last breath.” 31 likes
“Usually we regard as meaningful that which can be expressed, and as meaningless that which cannot be expressed. Yet, the equation of the meaningful and the expressible ignores a vast realm of human experience, and is refuted by our sense of the ineffable which is an awareness of an allusiveness to meaning without the ability to express it.” 3 likes
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