Sacramental Existence and Embodied Theology in Buber’s Representation of Ḥasidism

In: The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
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Martin Buber denied consistently that he was a theologian because he repudiated abstract discourse about God. However, he did affirm that intersubjective events in the world express theological truth, even if that truth cannot be possessed or professed thereafter as noetic content. In this paper I introduce a concept of “embodied theology” to elucidate this nuance in Buber’s religious thought, and I show how his Ḥasidic writings shed unique light on these matters. Through hermeneutical investigations of his Ḥasidic tales vis-à-vis the original sources, I illuminate Buber’s conviction that genuine sages convey theological meaning through the very spiritual-corporeal dynamics of their lives—or what Buber calls their “sacramental existence.”

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