The Hidden Face Of God Paperback – Nov 14 1996
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The Hidden Face of God is a record of biblical scholar Richard Elliott Friedman's attempts to understand why, after God tells Moses in Deuteronomy, "I shall hide my face from them," God proceeds to disappear from the face of the earth. "Gradually through the course of the Hebrew Bible ... the deity appears less and less to humans, speaks less and less. Miracles, angels, and all other signs of divine presence become rarer and finally cease," Friedman writes. This freewheeling work of biblical and cultural criticism considers the ways modern writers such as Friedrich Nietzsche have continued to develop the idea that "we are finally utterly on our own," wrestles with the insecurities, moral ambiguities, and spiritual doubts that modernism has aggravated, and looks to contemporary science and Jewish mysticism for some clues as to how God's absence may in fact be His way of showing His presence. Without ever lapsing into intellectual laziness or maudlin sentiment, Friedman provides an accessible survey of some of this century's biggest moral dilemmas. And within those dilemmas themselves, Friedman finds hope. --Michael Joseph Gross
About the Author
Richard Elliott Friedman is professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature and holds the Katzin Chair at the University of California, San Diego. One of the premier biblical scholars in the country, he received his doctorate at Harvard and was a visiting fellow at Oxford and Cambridge. Author of The Hidden Face of God, The Hidden Book in the Bible, Commentary on the Torah, The Exile and Biblical Narrative, and the bestselling Who Wrote the Bible?, Friedman is also the president of the Biblical Colloquium West. A consultant to universities, journals, encyclopedias, and publishers, he is also the editor of four books on biblical studies and has authored over fifty articles, reviews, and notes in scholarly and popular publications.
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Top Customer Reviews
The author traces the diminishing presence of the deity through the course of the Hebrew Bible, showing how the nature of communication changes from visible to indirect whilst signs of the divine, like miracles, become rarer, finally ceasing altogether. A related development is a shift in the balance of control in human destiny - a transition from divine to human responsibility. This is observed in the actions of Adam & Eve, through Noah who builds the ark himself, Abraham who even challenges a decision of God, through Moses and down to the Book of Esther where the name of God is not even mentioned overtly. As the author notes, it is the apparent control that is shifting.
The same phenomenon is evident in the non-historical books. The prophets encounter the divine through dreams and visions - not face to face like in earlier times - and their impressions are filtered through their own personalities. Some prophets like Isaiah are explicit about the absence of God, and the promise of reunion. This is also reflected in the Psalms. The word of God now takes the place of the acts of God. Scholars have not paid enough attention to the growing human role during the receding visibility of the deity. This is especially remarkable as the phenomenon appears with chronological consistency in a narrative composed by many authors over many centuries.Read more ›
The second mystery concerns Nietzsche's descent into madness, a passage from Dostoevsky's CRIME AND PUNISHMENT and the 'death of God' in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. For Friedman, this moment represents our species' coming of age.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
I found this book riveting, fascinating and also, at times, nauseating. Particularly near the end of the book I had an acute awareness that I was reading the preparation manual for... Read morePublished on Sept. 14 2003 by Joseph Simpson
The theory of the disappearance of God is thought provoking. The first and second mystery (parts) are convincing. Friedman knows what he is talking about. Read morePublished on Aug. 28 2003 by J. G. Butti
The earlier chapters of the book were absolutely fascinating, and as gripping a read as any well-written novel. Read morePublished on Nov. 11 2002 by Richard G. Wilkes
As a fan of Friedman's Who Wrote the Bible, I expected more of the same - which Part One of the Hidden Face of God delivers. Read morePublished on July 13 2001 by Mike Cherepov
In hardback, the name of this book was THE DISAPPEARANCE OF GOD: A DIVINE MYSTERY. I suppose the publishers thought that was a bit too much for the average reader, thus the new... Read morePublished on June 17 2001 by Jon G. Jackson
If you read this book, you will without a doubt agree that Friedman is strikingly intelligent and highly educated on the covered topics. His critique of other works is impressive. Read morePublished on March 19 2000
This book is full of interesting ideas, and connections between ideas, to ponder. It has been more than a month since I finished reading it and I still reflect on it from time to... Read morePublished on June 4 1999
Portions of this review originally appeared in Louvain Stuides 22(Summer 1997): 188-190.
Our current age is frequently characterized by its loss of a sense of transcendence. Read more