Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907–72) is widely regarded as one of the most creative religious thinkers of the twentieth century, and John Merkle is well known as a leading guide to Heschel's thought. In accessible and engaging language, Merkle's Approaching God: The Way of Abraham Joshua Heschel introduces readers to Heschel's life and works in the service of God and to the very heart of his theological perspective. This book clearly explains Heschel’s reasons for affirming the reality and revelation of God, what he recommends as ways of responding to God, and why he thinks it is important to accept religious diversity as the will of God. Deeply rooted in tradition, Heschel’s message was, in its day, both timely and ahead of its time. This book shows just how relevant his message is for those seeking God—and an enlightened perspective on God—in the twenty-first century.
John C. Merkle is professor of theology at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John's University in Minnesota. His books include The Genesis of Faith: The Depth Theology of Abraham Joshua Heschel (Macmillan, 1985) and Faith Transformed: Christian Encounters with Jews and Judaism (Liturgical Press, 2003).
Here is a lucid, powerful, and beautiful guide to one of the most compelling theologians of our time. If you do not know Heschel, prepare to be amazed and uplifted. If you do know Heschel, you will find in these pages even more to `surprise the soul' and to delight the seeking heart.
David J. Wolpe Rabbi of Sinai Temple, Los Angeles, Author of Why Faith Matters
[An] outstanding contribution both to those who are new to Heschel and those with long familiarity.
John Merkle has pondered the thought of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel for many years. In Approaching God, Merkle provides readers with a discerning analysis of the wisdom of this eminent religious figure. Those who follow Merkle's sensitive exploration of Heschel will partake of this wisdom themselves.
Mary C. Boys, SNJM, Skinner and McAlpin Professor of Practical Theology, Union Theological Seminary, Author of Has God Only One Blessing? Judaism as a Source of Christian Self-Understanding
This inspiring and eminently readable book by John C. Merkle, Heschel's leading Christian interpreter, provides a lucid introduction to the Jewish thinker and activist's God-centered thought. Written with earnestness, analytical subtlety, and faith, Approaching God demonstrates how Heschel's radical interpretations of traditional Judaism can favor theological humility, religious diversity, and interfaith dialogue.
Edward K. Kaplan, Kaiserman Professor in the Humanities, Brandeis University, Author of Spiritual Radical, Abraham Joshua Heschel in America
Merkle's thumbnail approach to the way and sayings of Heschel is heuristically instructive and appreciated.
Journal of Ecumenical Studies
John Merkle is considered one of the foremost Christian interpreters of the thought of Abraham Joshua Heschel. Merkle has achieved very well what he set out to do within his self-imposed parameters, i.e., offer a succinct summary of Heschel's thought in a readable format.
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
John Merkle has produced a first-class study of the life and writings of Abraham Joshua Heschel, a man who has deeply influenced today's generation of theologians. Merkle has engaged thoughtfully with Heschel's approach to the divine-human encounter and Approaching God will be welcomed by Jews and Christians alike. Readers of this work are extremely fortunate to benefit from the author's life-long interest in Heschel. The book not only provides an insight into this hugely significant Jewish theologian, but also offers profound wisdom on the spiritual journey, daily undertaken by each and everyone of us.
Edward Kessler, Executive Director, Woolf Institute of Abrahamic Faiths, Cambridge, England, Author of What Do Jews Believe?
This work will be a useful addition to Judaica collections in academic libraries of all types, as well as in Jewish community center and public libraries. If offers a valuable guide to understanding Heschel's thought.
Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter