Prayer After the Death of God: A Phenomenological Study of Hebrew Literature

Prayer After the Death of God: A Phenomenological Study of Hebrew Literature


Avi Sagi
Translated by Batya Stein

Series: Emunot: Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah
ISBN: 9781618115034 (hardcover)
Pages: 210 pp.
Publication Date: June 2016

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The widespread view is that prayer is the center of religious existence and that understanding the meaning of prayer requires that we assume God is its sole destination. This book challenges this assumption and, through a phenomenological analysis of the meaning of prayer in modern Hebrew literature, shows that prayer does not depend at all on the addressee—humans are praying beings. Prayer is, above all, the recognition that we are free to transcend the facts of our life and an expression of the hope that we can override the weight of our past and present circumstances.

Avi Sagi is Professor of Philosophy and founder of the Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Hermeneutics and Cultural Studies at Bar-Ilan University as well as a faculty member at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He has written and edited many books and articles in philosophy and Jewish thought, among them Albert Camus and the Philosophy of the AbsurdJewish Religion after Theology, and Tradition vs. Traditionalism.


For Avi Sagi, professor of philosophy at Israel’s Bar-Ilan University, the death of God is far more complex than has been previously imagined, especially when viewed in light of the tenacity of prayer in human existence. ... The heart of the book, however, is its exploration and affirmation of prayer without divine matrix, object, or addressee. Sagi is most original as he contends with more traditional explanations of the source and meaning of prayer ... His entire study is informed by a rare and promising dialogue between continental philosophy and critical appreciation for the relevance of Talmudic wisdom. Originally published in Hebrew, Sagi’s study represents a unique contribution to the historiography of the death of God and a welcome alternative to the all-too-predictable literature on prayer.
— Peter A. Huff, Spring 2017, Reading Religion.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1:       Prayer and Hebrew Literature
Chapter 2:      “The Death of God” and the Possibility of Prayer
Chapter 3:      Prayer as a Primary Datum
Chapter 4:      Between Self-Reflection and Ontological Event
Chapter 5:      Grappling with the Addressee Problem
Chapter 6:      Reconstructing the “Death of God” Moment
Chapter 7:      Humans as Praying Beings: A Phenomenological Profile Bibliography