Beyond the Walls: Abraham Joshua Heschel and Edith Stein on the Significance of Empathy for Jewish-Christian Dialogue

ISBN : 9780199925025

Joseph Palmisano
208 Pages
162 x 242 mm
Pub date
Oct 2012
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Joseph Palmisano explores the interreligious significance of empathy for Jewish-Christian understanding. Drawing on the writings of Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel (1907-1972) and Edith Stein (1891-1942), he develops a phenomenological category of empathy defined as a way of "re-membering" oneself with the religious other. Palmisano follows Heschel's and Stein's personal and spiritual journeys through the darkest years of Nazi Germany. He shows that Heschel's call to Christian interlocutors for a return to God is an ecumenical call to humanity to embrace perceived others: a call to live life as a response to God's pathos. This call finds a prophetic answer in Edith Stein's witness of empathy with regard to the Holocaust. Stein, a Catholic, creates a dialectical bridge with the Jewish 'other,' neither distancing herself nor denying her Jewish roots. Stein's simultaneously Jewish and Christian fidelity is a model for interreligious relations. It is also a challenge to Catholics to remember their religion's Jewish heritage through new categories of witnessing and belonging with others. Beyond the Walls is a critical contribution to the fostering of interreligious understanding, offering both a model of the ideal Jewish-Christian relationship in Heschel and Stein and criteria with which to evaluate contemporary initiatives and controversies concerning interreligious dialogue.


Chapter 1 Towards Pathos: Preliminary Considerations
Chapter 2 Towards a Hermeneutics of Empathy: Mystery, Being, Subjectivity
Chapter 3 Pathos and Sympathy
Chapter 4 On Empathy
Chapter 5 A Finite and Eternal Being: Conversion and Carmel
Chapter 6 Beyond the Walls of Carmel
Chapter 7 Stein's Kenosis: Reimaging Witnessing
Towards a Conclusion: Empathic Witnessing as Interreligious Dialogue

About the author: 

Inaugural Rev Michael Hurley SJ post-doctoral research and teaching fellow, Irish School of Economics, Trinity College, Dublin

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