“Companionable Being”

American Theologians Engage Martin Buber

in The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy
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American religious thinkers of the mid-twentieth century regularly included appreciative comments about Martin Buber’s thought in their books and essays, but they seldom stated specifically what they were drawing from Buber. Their comments did, however, tend to circle around a single issue: modern social, political, and technological changes were destabilizing both the sense of “the uniqueness of human selfhood” and the possibility of its distinctively “religious existence.” They sought a third way through the modern cultural and religious problem of the self, and they took Martin Buber as their guide.

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References

2

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Self and the Dramas of History (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955), ix.

3

Will Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man: An Interpretation of Jewish Religion (New York: Farrar, Straus and Young, 1951), x.

6

Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man, 3, 7.

7

Reinhold Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society: A Study in Ethics and Politics (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1932), 95.

8

Reinhold Niebuhr, An Interpretation of Christian Ethics (New York: Harper, 1935), 223–224.

9

H. Richard Niebuhr, The Meaning of Revelation (New York: Macmillan, 1941), 10–11.

10

H. Richard Niebuhr, Theology, History, and Culture, 136; Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man, 11.

11

Erving Goffman, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life (New York: Anchor Books, 1959), xi, 17, 35.

15

H. Richard Niebuhr, The Responsible Self: An Essay in Christian Moral Philosophy (San Francisco: Harper and Row, 1963), 71.

16

Martin Buber, Eclipse of God: Studies in the Relation between Religion and Philosophy (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1952), 128.

17

See, for example, Malcolm L. Diamond, Martin Buber: Jewish Existentialist (New York: Oxford University Press, 1960).

18

Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man, 113, 216–217.

19

John E. Smith, The Analogy of Experience: An Approach to Understanding Religious Truth (New York: Harper and Row, 1973), 63.

20

Reinhold Niebuhr, Beyond Tragedy: Essays on the Christian Interpretation of History (New York: Scribner’s, 1937), ix, 28, 34.

21

Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man, 226–227.

22

John Dewey, A Common Faith (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1934), 18–19.

23

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Self and the Dramas of History, 9, 14–15.

24

Will Herberg, Protestant—Catholic—Jew: An Essay in American Religious Sociology (New York: Doubleday, 1955), 271–276.

25

Herberg, Judaism and Modern Man, 71.

26

Reinhold Niebuhr, The Self and the Dramas of History, 41, 44–45, 49, 144, 218.

27

Buber, Eclipse of God, 46, 138–139.

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