Buber, Martin

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Buber, Martin

Martin Buber (bōō´bĕr), 1878–1965, Jewish philosopher, b. Vienna. Educated at German universities, he was active in Zionist affairs, and he taught philosophy and religion at the Univ. of Frankfurt-am-Main (1924–33). From 1938 to 1951 he held a professorship in the sociology of religion at the Hebrew Univ. in Jerusalem. Greatly influenced by the mysticism of the Hasidim, which he interpreted in many of his works, and by the Christian existentialism of Søren Kierkegaard, Buber evolved his own philosophy of religion, especially in his book I and Thou (1923, 2d ed. 1958). Conceiving the relations between God and man not as abstract and impersonal, but as an inspired and direct dialogue, Buber has also had a great impact on contemporary Christian thinkers. He worked to permeate political Zionism with ethical and spiritual values and strongly advocated Arab-Israeli understanding. Among his writings are Jewish Mysticism and the Legends of Baalshem (1931), Mamre (tr. 1946, repr. 1970), Moses (1946), and The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism (2 vol., tr. 1960).

See his A Believing Humanism: My Testament, 1902–1965 (tr. 1967), and his Meetings, ed. by M. S. Friedman (1973); biographies by M. S. Friedman (3 vol., 1981–3, and 1 vol., 1991); M. S. Freidman, Martin Buber: The Life of Dialogue (4th ed., 2002).

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