Martin Buber

Martin Buber

Born: 1878. Died: 1965.


- The I-Thou approach to relationships is the only way people can be fully authentic; only a part of our being is expressed in the I-It relationship.

- Scripture and biblical commentary are of great importance but are not infallible.

- Religious law is not immutable but applicable to the times of its formulation.

- Zionism must incorporate Arabs as well as Jews.

- Cooperative efforts, such as in the ideal kibburizm, are to be encouraged, but collectivism is dangerous.


Martin Buber was born February 8, 1878 in Vienna as a child of a Jewish family; his grandfather, in whose house in Lvov Buber spent much of his childhood (his parents' marriage had broken apart), was a very renowned scholar on the field of Jewish tradition and literature.

Buber studied in Vienna, Leipzig, Berlin, Zurich and soon entered the Zionist Movement, more for religious and cultural than for political reasons. He was the editor of a renowned Jewish magazine and lectured Jewish religion philosophy at the University of Frankfurt from 1924 to 1933. During that time, he worked together with Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) at the "Freies Jüdisches Lehrhaus". And it was also Rosenzweig with whom together he translated the Old Testament into German.

In the first years of Hitler's rule, he stayed in Germany until he had to emigrate in 1938, and from then on he lectured, interrupted by numerous journeys, at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He made many efforts for improving the understanding between the Israelis and the Arabs, in the postwar period also for reestablishing the dialogue with German thinkers and institutions. He died on June 6, 1965.

Major Books of Martin Buber

- Between Man and Man, 1947
- Chinese Tales: Zhuangzi Sayings and Parables and Chinese Ghost and Love Stories, 1910
- Daniel: Dialogues on Realization, 1964
- Eclipse of God, 1952
- Ecstatic Confessions: The Heart of Mysticism, 1909
- Gog and Magog : A Novel, 1943
- Good and Evil, 1953
- I and Thou, 1923
- Israel and Palestine, The History of an Idea, 1952
- Kingship of God, 1967
- The Legend of the Baal-Shem, 1955
- Meetings : Autobiographical Fragments, 1973
- Moses the revelation and the Covenant, 1945
- On the Bible: Eighteen Studies, edited by Nahum N. Glatzer, 1968
- On Judaism, 1967
- On Zion: The History of an Idea, from a series of lectures delivered in 1944
- Paths in Utopia, 1949
- The Prophetic Faith, 1949
- Tales of Angels, Spirits and Demons, 1958
- Tales of the Hasidim, 1947
- Tales of Rabbi Nachman, 1956
- Two Letters to Gandhi, 1939
- Two Types of Faith, 1951
- The Way of Man : According to the Teaching of Hasidism, 1948

Major Articles of Martin Buber

- 1936, "Der Einzige" und "Der Einzelne" (Ueber Stirner und Kierkegaard), Synthese
- 1938, Die geistige Forderung und die geschichtliche Wirklichkeit, Synthese
- 1958, What Is Common to All, The Review of Metaphysics

Quotes from Martin Buber

- "All revelation is summons and sending." (from "I and Thou", 1923)

- "Solitude is the place of purification." (from "I and Thou", 1923)

- "The Thou meets me through grace-it is not found by seeking." (from "I and Thou", 1923)

- "The world is not divine sport; it is divine destiny. There is divine meaning in the life of the world; of man, of human persons, of you and of me." (from "I and Thou", 1923)

- "Peace is the aim of all the world and ... justice is the way to attain it." (from a letter to Mohandas K. Gandhi, 1939)

- "If there is no other way of preventing the evil destroying the good, I trust I shall use force and give myself up into God's hands." (from "The Bond", 1939)

- "Power abdicates only under stress of counter-power." (from "Paths in Utopia", 1946)

- "True ecstasy hails neither from spirit nor from nature, but from the union of these two." (from "Tales of the Hasidim: The Early Masters", 1947)

- "[The Bible] is the history of God's disappointments." (from "Israel and the World: Essays in a Time of Crisis", 1948)

- "The biblical point of view ... proclaims that the way, the real way, from the creation to the kingdom is trod not on the surface of success, but in the depths of failure." (from "Israel and the World: Essays in a Time of Crisis", 1948)

- "[Job] does not ask, "Why does God permit me to suffer these things?" but "Why does God make me suffer these things?"" (from "The Prophetic Faith", 1949)

- "Victory comes, at times, just when one no longer expects it." (from "Pointing the Way", 1957)

- "The double nature of man, as the being that is both brought forth from "below" and sent from "above," results in the duality of his basic characteristics." (from "Eclipse of God: Studies in the Relation between Religion and Philosophy", 1953)

- "We call prayer ... that speech of man to God which, whatever else is asked, ultimately asks for the manifestation of the divine Presence." (from "Eclipse of God: Studies in the Relation between Religion and Philosophy", 1953)

- "The God of the universe is the God of history." (from "Martin Buber's Influence on Twentieth Century Religious Thought" by Maurice Friedman)


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