Shai Held’s study of Abraham Joshua Heschel is a journey into the depths of the soul of the great theologian’s essential writings. Painstakingly researched and deliberate in its use of language, Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence, is a masterful exploration of Heschel’s work.
Best suited to the reader who is already familiar with Heschel’s writing and terminology, one can easily imagine such a person eagerly diving into Held’s presentation, making use of the extensive notes and references to the primary sources. Indeed, these notes and references — not only to Heschel’s writings but to those of other leading scholars and theologians in conversation with Held’s study — are the crown jewels of this work, placing Held’s book at the center of any serious engagement with Heschel’s writings. It is unlikely, however, that a novice student with limited familiarity with Heschel’s original thought will find Held’s study to be helpful in untangling Heschel’s voluptuous and enigmatic language.
Held’s study is a book to be savored: it is too richly detailed to be absorbed in anything but short sittings. For the reader with the patience and the necessary philosophical and theological backgrounds, reading Held’s work is a decadent and enormously rewarding process to be treasured.