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Martin Buber’s concept of Religion
Mathew Jose Makkanal
The work of the prolific essayist, translator, and editor Martin Buber (1878-1965) is
predominantly dedicated to three areas: the philosophical articulation of the dialogic principle
(das dialogische Prinzip), the revival of religious consciousness among the Jews (by means of
the literary retelling of Hasidic tales and an innovative German translation of the Bible), and
to the realization of this consciousness through the Zionist movement. Such was the power of
his spoken and written word that during the First World War many young men wrote to him
for guidance in difficult moral, religious, and political crises. His answers were seen as those
of an authority who rose above the ideologies of the day. A man of considerable
organizational talent, Buber shunned responsibility for the nascent political institutions of
Zionism. Instead, he attempted to transform the Zionist movement by articulating what he
saw as its unique historic mission: the realization of a Hebraic humanism (Grete Schaeder).
His advocacy of a binational solution to the Jewish-Arab conflict in Palestine is widely
considered to be an indication of the political utopianism Buber developed together with his
friend Gustav Landauer, an aesthetic politics shaped in the anarchist and religious socialist
movements of the first two decades of the twentieth century.
A selection of Buber's works, edited by him in his eighties, comprises more than four
thousand pages and is divided into writings on philosophy, the Bible, Hasidism, and
(published posthumously) Judaism. There are several volumes of published letters, and the
Bible translation begun with Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) and completed after WWII is
still widely used by German Christian ministers who appreciate its poetic language. A
complete edition of Buber's works, edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr and Peter Schäfer, is
1. Biographical Background
The setting of Buber's childhood and youth was the Austro-Hungarian empire of the fin-de-
siècle, the multiethnic conglomerate whose collapse in the First World War ended a thousand
years of rule by Catholic princes in the West. Its cosmopolitan capital Vienna was home to
late Romantic music, sophisticated theatrical productions, and psychologically perceptive
literature. Among the young Buber's first publications are essays and translations into Polish
of the poetry of his older peers (e.g., Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal). In
historical and cultural terms, Buber's philosophical and literary voice is best understood as
related to the Viennese culture of his youth which saw the rise of radically new approaches to
psychology (Otto Weininger, Sigmund Freud) and philosophy (Ludwig Wittgenstein), and
where solutions to the burning social and political issues of city and empire were often
expressed in grandly theatrical oratory (Lueger, Hitler) and in estheticizing rhetoric and self-
inscenation (Theodor Herzl).
Buber's parents (Carl Buber and Elise née Wurgast) separated in 1882. For the next ten years,
Martin lived with his paternal grandparents, Solomon and Adele Buber, in Lemberg (Lvov).
Solomon, a ‘master of the old Haskala’ (Martin Buber) who called himself ‘a Pole of the
Mosaic persuasion’i produced the first modern editions of rabbinic midrash literature yet was
greatly respected even by the ultraorthodox establishment. His reputation opened the doors
for Martin when he began to show interest in Zionism and Hasidic literature. The wealth of
his grandparents was built on the Galician estate administered by Adele and enhanced by
Solomon through mining, banking, and commerce. It provided Martin with financial security
until the German occupation of Poland in 1939, at which time the estate was destroyed.
Home-schooled and pampered by his grandmother, Buber became a bookish aesthete with
few friends his age and the play of the imagination as his diversion. He easily absorbed local
languages (Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish, German) and acquired others (Greek, Latin, French,
Italian, English). German was the dominant language at home, while the language of
instruction at the Franz Joseph Gymnasium was Polish. This multilingualism nourished
Buber's life-long obsession with words and meanings.
In 1900, after his years of study (see below), Buber and his partner, Paula Winkler, moved to
Berlin where the anarachist Gustav Landauer (1870-1919) was among their closest friends.
Landauer played an important role in Buber's life when, in 1916, he criticized Buber for his
public enthusiasm for the German war effort. This critique from a trusted friend had a
sobering effect, triggering Buber's turn from an aestheticizing social mysticism to the
philosophy of dialogue. 1916 was also the year Martin, Paula, and their two children left the
big city and moved to the small town of Heppenheim, near Frankfurt on the Main where,
since 1904, Buber had been employed as an editor. In Frankfurt, Buber met Franz
Rosenzweig (1886-1929) with whom he was to develop a close intellectual companionship.
After the war, Rosenzweig recruited Buber as a lecturer for the newly established center for
Jewish adult education (Freies jüdisches Lehrhaus), he persuaded Buber to take on a widely
visible lectureship in Jewish religious studies and ethics at Frankfurt University, and
Rosenzweig became Buber's chief collaborator in the project, initiated by the young Christian
publisher Lambert Schneider, to produce a new translation of the Bible into German. Buber
lived and worked in Frankfurt until his emigration to Palestine in 1937. The remainder of his
life he lived and taught mostly in Jerusalem, teaching social philosophy.
Recruited by his older compatriot, the Budapest-born and Vienna-based journalist Theodor
Herzl, Buber briefly edited the main paper of the Zionist party, Die Welt, but soon found a
more congenial place in the ‘democratic faction’ led by Chaim Weizmann, then living in
Zurich. Buber's phases of engagement in the movement's political institutions alternated with
extended phases of disengagement, but he never ceased to write and speak about what he
understood to be the distinctive Jewish brand of nationalism. Buber seems to have derived an
important lesson from the early struggles between political and cultural Zionism for the
leadership and direction of the movement. He realized that his place was not in high
diplomacy and political education but in the search for psychologically sound foundations on
which to heal the rift between modernist realpolitik and a distinctively Jewish theological-
political tradition. Very much in keeping with the nineteenth-century Protestant yearning for
a Christian foundation of the nation-state, Buber sought a healing source in the integrating
powers of the religious experience.
After a hiatus of more than ten years during which Buber spoke to Jewish youth groups (most
famously the Prague Bar Kokhba) but refrained from any practical involvement in Zionist
politics, he reentered Zionist debates in 1916 when he began publishing the journal Der Jude
which served as an open forum of exchange on any issues related to cultural and political
Zionism. In 1921 Buber attended the Zionist Congress in Carlsbad as a delegate of the
socialist Hashomer Hatzair (“the young guard”). In debates following violent riots in 1928
and 29 on whether to arm the Jewish settlers in Palestine Buber represented the pacifist
option; in debates on immigration quotas following the 1936 Arab boycott Buber argued for
demographic parity rather than trying to achieve a Jewish majority. Finally, as a member of
Brit Shalom Buber argued for a bi-national rather than for a Jewish state in Palestine. At any
of these stages Buber harbored no illusion about the chances of his political views to sway the
majority but he believed that it was important to articulate the moral truth as one saw it rather
than hiding one's true beliefs for the sake of political strategy. Needless to say, this politics of
authenticity made him few friends among the members of the Zionist establishment.
3. Early Philosophical Influences
Among Buber's early philosophical influences were Kant's Prolegomena which he read at the
age of fourteen, and Nietzsche's Zarathustra. Whereas Kant had a calming influence on the
young mind troubled by the aporia of infinite versus finite time, Nietzsche's doctrine of “the
eternal recurrence of the same” constituted a powerful negative seduction. By the time Buber
graduated from Gymnasium he felt he had overcome this seduction, but Nietzsche's prophetic
tone and aphoristic style are evident in Buber's subsequent writings. Between 1896 and 1899
he studied history of art, German literature, philosophy, and psychology in Vienna, Leipzig
(97/98), Berlin (98/99), and Zurich (99). In Vienna he absorbed the latest literature and
poetry, most importantly the oracular poetry of Stefan George which influenced him greatly,
although he never became a disciple of George. In Leipzig and Berlin he developed an
interest in the ethnopsychology of Wilhelm Wundt, the social philosophy of Georg Simmel,
the psychiatry of Carl Stumpf, and the lebensphilosophisch approach to the humanities of
Wilhelm Dilthey. In Leipzig he attended meetings of the Society for Ethical Culture
(Gesellschaft für ethische Kultur), then dominated by the thought of Lasalle and Tönnies.
From his early reading of philosophical literature Buber retained some of the most basic
convictions found in his later writings. In Kant he found two answers to his concern with the
nature of time. If time and space are pure forms of perception, then they pertain to things only
as they appear to us (i.e., to phaenomena) and not to things-in-themselves (nooumena). Thus
time primarly concerns the way in which we experience the Other. But can the Other be
experienced at all or is it necessarily reduced to the scope of our phenomenal knowledge, to
what Buber later called the I-It relation? Yet Kant also indicated ways of meaningfully
speaking of the noumenal, even though not in terms of theoretical reason. Practical reason,
i.e., the categorical imperative that considers the Other as an end in itself rather than the
means to an end, as well the teleological (aesthetic) judgment developed in Kant's Third
Critique, seem to admit the possibility of a rational faith, a faith that resonated with Buber's
feeling that the phenomenon is always the gateway to the noumenon, just as the noumenal
cannot be encountered other than in the concrete phenomena. Thus Buber managed to infuse
the seemingly dry Kantian distinctions with an immediate sense of reality. Before this
measured view dominated Buber's thought, however, he leaned toward Nietzsche's
enthusiastic endorsement of the primacy of life in its immediacy and its superiority to an
Apollonian world of distance and abstraction.
4. Social Philosophy
Although his earliest writings were literary and theatrical reviews, Buber's major interest was
the tension between society and community. Just as he had enlivened Kant's distinction
between phenomenon and noumenon with his literary imagination, so too he transformed the
value-theoretical distinction between types of social aggregation of Ferdinand Tönnies
(Gesellschaft und Gemeinschaft) into a wellspring for his political speeches and writings. The
political arena for his social, psychological, and educational engagement was the Zionist
movement. Buber's interest in social philosophy was stimulated by his close friendship with
Gustav Landauer who was also among the authors Buber recruited for the forty volume series
on “Society” (Die Gesellschaft) that he edited for the Frankfurt publishing house Ruetten &
Loening. As a pioneer of social thought and a student of Georg Simmel, Buber participated in
the 1909 founding conference of the German sociological association. While Buber's social-
psychological approach to the study and description of social phenomena was soon eclipsed
by quantitative approaches, his interest in the constitutive correlation between the individual
and his and her social experience remained an important aspect of his philosophy of dialogue.
5. I and Thou: The Dialogic Principle
Buber's best known work is the short philosophical essay Ich und Du (1923), first translated
into English in 1937 by Ronald Gregor Smith. In the 1950's and 60's, when Buber first
traveled and lectured in the USA, the essay became rather popular in the English speaking
world. Since then it has been associated with the intellectual culture of the student
movement's spontaneity, authenticity, and anti-establishment sentiment.
I and Thou is considered to have inaugurated “a Copernican revolution in theology (…)
against the scientific-realistic attitude”ii but it has also been criticized for its reduction of
fundamental human relations to just two — the I-Thou and the I-It — of which the latter
appears as a mere ‘cripple’ (Franz Rosenzweig in a letter to Buber in Sept. 1922). Walter
Kaufmann, who produced a second English translation of I and Thou, went further in his
criticism. While he did not regard the lack of deep impact of Buber's contributions to biblical
studies, Hasidism, and Zionist politics as an indication of failure, he considered I and Thou a
shameful performance in both style and content. In style the book invoked “the oracular tone
of false prophets” and it was ‘more affected than honest.’ Writing in a state of “irresistible
enthusiasm,” Buber lacked the critical distance needed to critique and revise his own
formulations. His conception of the I-It was a “Manichean insult” while his conception of the
I-Thou was ‘rashly romantic and ecstatic,’ and Buber ‘mistook deep emotional stirrings for
Buber always insisted that the dialogic principle, i.e., the duality of primal relations that he
called the I-Thou and the I-It, was not a philosophical conception but a reality beyond the
reach of discursive language. In the initial exuberance of making this discovery Buber briefly
planned for I and Thou to serve as the prolegomenon to a five-volume work on philosophy,
but he realized that, in Kaufmann's words, “he could not build on that foundation” and hence
abandoned the plan. It has been argued, however, that Buber nevertheless solved the inherent
“difficulty of dialogics that it reflects on, and speaks of, a human reality about which, in his
own words, one cannot think and speak in an appropriate manner”ivby writing around it,
inspired by one's conviction of its veracity.
The debate on the strength and weakness of I and Thou as the foundation of a system hinges
on the perhaps fallacious assumption that the five-volume project Buber intended to write but
soon abandoned was indeed a philosophical one. Buber's contemporaneous lectures at the
Freies jüdisches Lehrhaus and at the University of Frankfurt as well as his letters to
Rosenzweig indicate quite clearly that he was concerned with the development of a new
approach to the study of religion (Religionswissenschaft) (cf. Schottroff) rather than with a
new approach to the philosophy of religion.
6. The Vagueness of Buber's Language
The preponderance in Buber's writings of abstract nouns such as “experience,” “realization,”
and “encounter,” and his predilection for utopian political programs such as anarchism,
socialism, and a bi-national solution to the conflict in Palestine point to a characteristic
tension in his personality. The philosopher of the “I and Thou” allowed very few people to
call him by his first name; the theorist of education suffered no disturbance of his rigorous
schedule by children playing in his own home; the utopian politician alienated most
representatives of the Zionist establishment; and the innovative academic lecturer could
hardly find a proper place in the university he had helped to create — the Hebrew University
of Jerusalem. Some of the most dedicated students of this inspiring orator and writer found
themselves irritated by the conflict between their master's ideas and their own attempts at
putting them into practice. In the final analysis it seems as if Buber always remained the well-
groomed, affected, prodigiously gifted, pampered Viennese boy whose best company were
the works of his own imagination, and whose overtures to the outside world were always
tainted by his enthusiasm for words and for the stylized tone of his own voice.
7. Man of Letters
Buber's wide range of interests, his literary abilities, and the general appeal of his
philosophical orientation are reflected in the far flung correspondence he conducted over the
course of his long life. As the editor of Die Gesellschaft Buber corresponded with Georg
Simmel, Franz Oppenheimer, Ellen Key, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Werner Sombart, and many
other authors. Among the poets of his time with whom he exchanged letters were Hugo von
Hofmannsthal, Hermann Hesse, and Stefan Zweig. He was particularly close to the socialist
novellist Arnold Zweig. With poet Chaim Nachman Bialik and novellist Sh. Y. Agnon he
shared a deep interest in the revival of Hebrew literature. He published the works of the
Jewish Nietzschean story-teller Micha Josef Berdiczewsky. He was a major inspiration to the
young Zionist cadre of Prague Jews (Hugo Bergmann, Max Brod, Robert Weltsch) and
became a major organizer of Jewish adult education in Germany where he lived until 1937.
Buber's name is intimately linked with that of Franz Rosenzweig and his circle (Eugen
Rosenstock-Huessy, Hans Ehrenberg, Rudolf Ehrenberg, Victor von Weizsäcker, Ernst
Michel, etc.), an association that manifested itself, among others, in the journal Die Kreatur
(1926-29). Der Jude and his many speeches on Judaism made Buber the central figure of the
Jewish cultural renaissance of the 1920's. Younger intellectuals from highly assimilated
families, such as Gershom Scholem and Ernst Simon, were awakened to a modern form of
Judaism through Buber and developed their own profiles in struggling against Buber's
influence. Buber also counted among his friends and admirers Christian theologians such as
Karl Heim, Friedrich Gogarten, Albert Schweitzer, and Leonard Ragaz. Buber's philosophy
of dialogue entered into the discourse of psychoanalysis through the work of Hans Trüb, and
is today among the most popular approaches to educational theory in German-language
studies of pedagogy.
8. Honors and Legacy
Among the honors Buber received are the Goethe-Prize of the City of Hamburg (1951), the
Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels (Frankfurt am Main, 1953), and the Erasmus Prize
(Amsterdam, 1963). Significant students who considered their own work a continuation of
Buber's legacy were Nahum Glatzer (Buber's only doctoral student during his years at the
university in Frankfurt, 1924-1933, later an influential teacher of Judaic Studies at Brandeis
University), Akiba Ernst Simon (historian and theorist of education in Israel who first met
Buber at the Freies jüdisches Lehrhaus in Frankfurt, founded by Franz Rosenzweig, and who
returned from Palestine to work with Buber and Ernst Kantorowicz for the Mittelstelle für
jüdische Erwachsenenbildung from 1934 until 1938), Maurice Friedman (Buber's American
translator and a prolific author in his own right who introduced Buber to American religious
scholarship), Walter Kaufmann (who, despite his critique of Buber's I and Thou as a
poeticized philosophy helped to popularize it in the USA), and several significant Israeli
scholars (Shmuel Eisenstadt, Amitai Etzioni, Jochanan Bloch) who knew Buber in his later
years when he taught seminars on social philosophy and education at the Hebrew University
9. Philosopy of religion
Buber declared that not only he knew of no cogent proof of God’s existence but also he
would reject it if it existed Buber says that he has no metaphysics to prove his truth and he
also continued that when he speak of ontological significance it is to distinguish this reality
from psychological happening . Buber does not posit the ontological one, for God is a
negative being according to him. Write Buber “my philosophy …. Does not serve a series of
revealed propositions ….but an experienced, a perceived attitude that it has been established
to make communicable”v
The eternal Thou of Buber does not mean the traditional God of philosophers,
metaphysicians and theologians- the God whose exclusive can be as proved as whose nature
and attitude can be described. He wishes rather to show us the road on earth on which we can
meet God whom we can never knew as himself apart from our relation to him. The concept of
God is thou and I. This being that directly most nearly and lastly facing us, that may properly
only be addressed and not expressed. “God is not person in our relationship between him
becomes one. So I speak to love and be loved; to know and to be known by us”vi. This is the
paradox of God who remains unlimited and get enters in direct relationship with us. “This
paradox Buber put in contrast to traditional metaphysics which demand the choice between
an absolute and that is not in relation to the world and a God who is in relation and therefore
less than absolute”vii.
God is he ‘absolute person’ who is whenever we meet our fellowmen, nature as art as
‘thou’. God is an ‘eternal thou’ who cannot become an ‘it’. The true God cannot be an object
of our thought, not even the ‘absolute object’ from which all other. Buber reject any notion of
supreme nature or supreme-natural in favor of God who is above both spirit and nature yet
permits and bears them .According to him we can have him when we meet the world with
fullness of our being.
Faith is binding oneself in relation with an undeterminable and unproveable , yet even so in
relationship . Knowable being from whom all meaning come. The religious essence of all
religion found in the centerity that the meaning of the essence opened and accessible in the
actual lived concrete not above the suggestible with reality but in it. “This meaning must be
authenticated by once own commitment and response. Religious reality begins when our
existence between birth and death becomes in-comprehensible and un causing, when reality
is shattered through…essential mystery.”viii
Human truth is participation in the being write Buber, not a conformity with and that to
which propos ion refers .It cannot chain universal validity yet it can be exemplified and
symbolized in true situation of human persons. Buber’s eternal thou is best understood as
eternity “thou” –the thou met ever again in reality of the present. “According to my in sight
of the faith” write Buber ‘god is as well as after time. He uncompasses time and manifests
himself in it.”ix
The attempts to fix god in an image prevent God from hiding and revealing himself ever a
new concrete situation. The religious reality of meeting with god knows no image of god
nothing comprehensive as object. “It knows only the presents of the present one”. Every
symbol of god whether image or idea, crude or subtle: means tuning the “thou”to it. Yet god
suffers that one look at him through necessarily untrue images until swell themselves up and
abstract the way to god claiming to be the reality itself rather than a point to it . At this time
philosophers criticism of image that not longer justice to god enable religious persons to self
forth across the God – deprid reality to anew meeting with the man less meter”x
Revelation- religious language means mutual contact and communication rather than a
detached observation of an object . “The signs of address” that we become aware when we
meet the world neither objective sign capable of interpreted no subject rejection of human
values but address that come from that unique present we, you recognize that you are the
person addressed .What can know of god when we are addressed by the sign of life is never
assessable apart from that addresses . Yet from asuvession of such “movements of god” they
may arise for us with a single identity,”the lord of voice” .Each new Thou renews in all
presentences the past experiences of Thou the movements of the past and present became
simultaneously Present and joint in the living unity In the infinite language of events and
situation eternally changing lent plan to lively attentive, transcendence speaks to our hearts
essential movement of personal life”xi
Revelation is Buber is our meeting with god’s presence rather than information about Gods
existence. The world that results from this meeting is human in his meeting and form get
witness is the being that stimulates it. Revelation is not written text speaking voice, speaking
in present movement for the concrete present situation. Buber does mean eternal though the
reality of between. “Revelation seizes human elements that are at the hand and recast them it
is the pure shape of the meeting"xii
Friedman, Maurice, 1981, Martin Buber's life and work : the early years, 1878-1923, New York: Dutton,11.
Bloch, Jochanan/Gordon, Hayyim (ed.), 1983, Martin Buber. Bilanz seines Denkens, Freiburg i. B,42.
Kaufmann, Walter, 1983, “Bubers Fehlschläge und sein Triumph” in Bloch , pp. 22ff,28-33.
Bloch, Jochanan/Gordon, Hayyim (ed.), 1983, Martin Buber. Bilanz seines Denkens, Freiburg i. B,62.
s 20. Jahrhunderts), Stuttgart. English edition: 1967, The Philosophy of Martin Buber. (Series: Library of
Living Philosophers, vol. XII). Lasalle/Ill.: Open Court. Among the contributors to this volume are, aside from
Buber himself, Max Brod, Emmanuel Lévinas, Emil Brunner, Emil Fackenheim, Marvin Fox, Nahum Glatzer,
Mordecai Kaplan, Walter Kaufmann, Gabriel Marcel, NSchilpp, Paul Arthur/Friedman, Maurice (ed.), 1963,
Martin Buber, (Series: Philosophen deathan Rotenstreich, Rivka Schatz-Uffenheimer, Ernst Simon, Jacob
Taubes, C.F. von Weizsäcker, and Robert Weltsch
1937, I and Thou, transl. by Ronald Gregor Smith, Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 2nd Edition New York:
Scribners, 1958. 1st Scribner Classics ed. New York, NY: Scribner, 2000, c1986,134.
Licharz, Werner/Schmidt, Heinz (ed.), 1989, Martin Buber (1878-1965). Internationales Symposium zum 20.
Todestag. Two volumes (Series: Arnoldshainer Texte), HAAG + HERCHEN,336.
1952, Eclipse of God, New York: Harper and Bros. Publ. 2nd Edition Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,
Kohn, Hans, 1930, Martin Buber, Hellerau, Second edition: Cologne, 1961. First biography of Buber,
published on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday,87.
1952, Eclipse of God, New York: Harper and Bros. Publ. 2nd Edition Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press,
1967b, On Judaism, edited by Nahum Glatzer and transl. by Eva Jospe and others, New York: Schocken
1957, Pointing the Way, transl. Maurice Friedman. New York: Harper, 1957, 2nd Edition New York:
Friedman, Maurice, 1981, Martin Buber's life and work : the early years, 1878-1923,
New York: Dutton.
Bloch, Jochanan/Gordon, Hayyim (ed.), 1983, Martin Buber. Bilanz seines Denkens,
Freiburg i. B.
Kaufmann, Walter, 1983, “Bubers Fehlschläge und sein Triumph” in Bloch ,
Catanne, Moshe, 1961, A Bibliography of Martin Buber's Works (1895-1957),
Cohn, Margot, 1980, Martin Buber. A Bibliography of His Writings. 1897-1978.
Compiled by Margot Cohn and Raphael Buber. Jerusalem: Magnes Press. This is the
most authoritative bibligraphy compiled by Buber's long-time secretary and his son.
Friedman, Maurice, 1963, “Bibliographie” in: Paul Arthur Schilpp and Maurice
Friedman (ed.), Martin Buber, Stuttgart.
Kohn, Hans, 1930, Martin Buber, Hellerau. This biography includes a bibliography of
Buber's writings from 1897 to 1928. The second edition (1961) contains bibliographic
updates by Robert Weltsch.
Moonan, Willard, 1981, Martin Buber and His Critics. An Annotated Bibliography of
Writings in English Through 1978, New York & London: Garland Publ. With a list of
the abstracts, indices, and bibliographies consulted by the author, indices of
translators and authors writing on Buber, and subject indices of writings by and about
Selected Early Works By Martin Buber
1906-1912, Die Gesellschaft. Sammlung sozial-psychologischer Monographien
[Society. A Collection of Social-Psychological Monographs], Frankfurt am Main:
Rütten & Loening. 40 volumes. The first volume (Werner Sombart, Das Proletariat)
includes Buber's introduction to the series.
1906b, Die Geschichten des Rabbi Nachman [The Tales of Rabbi Nachman],
Frankfurt am Main: Rütten & Loening. Dedicated to “the memory of my grandfather,
Salomon Buber, the last master of the old haskalah.”
1908, Die Legende des Baal Schem [The Legend of the Baal Shem], Frankfurt: Rütten
& Loening (second edition: 1916). On the founder of the hasidic movement in early
18th century Podolia/Volynia,
1911a, Chinesische Geister- und Liebesgeschichten [Chinese Ghost- and Love
Stories], Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening.
1911b, Drei Reden über das Judentum [Three Speeches on Judaism], Frankfurt:
Rütten & Loening, 1911, Second, “complete” edition , 1923. Dedicated to “my wife.”
1916-24, Der Jude. Eine Monatsschrift [The Jew. A Monthly]. Founded by Buber
who edited it from 1916 to 1924. With many contributions by Buber.
1918, Mein Weg zum Chassidismus. Erinnerungen [My Path to Hasidism.
Recollections], Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening. Dedicated to “my beloved father.”
1919, Der heilige Weg. Ein Wort an die Juden und an die Völker [The Holy Path. A
Word to the Jews and to the Gentiles], Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening. Dedicated to
“the friend Gustav Landauer at his grave.”
1922, Der grosse Maggid und seine Nachfolge [The Great Maggid and his
Succession], Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening.
1923, Ich und Du [I and Thou].
1924, Das verborgene Licht [The Hidden Light], Frankfurt: Rütten & Loening.
1925ff, Die Schrift. Zu verdeutschen unternommen von Martin Buber gemeinsam mit
Franz Rosenzweig. Buber and Rosenzweig's translation of the Hebrew Scriptures was
published by Lambert Schneider first in his own publishing house in Berlin, between
1933 and 1939 under the heading of Schocken Verlag, Berlin, and finally, after 1945,
again through the newly founded Lambert Schneider Verlag, Heidelberg.
1926-29, Die Kreatur [Creation]. A quarterly edited by Buber with the Protestant
psychologist Victor von Weizsäcker and the dissident Catholic theologian Joseph
Collections and Editions of Writings and Letters
1953-62, Die Schrift. Verdeutscht von Martin Buber gemeinsam mit Franz
Rosenzweig, improved and complete edition in four volumes, Cologne.
1953a, Hinweise. Gesammelte Essays, Zurich.
1962, Werke. Erster Band: Schriften zur Philosophie [Works, Volume One:
Philosophical Writings], Munich and Heidelberg: Lambert Schneider Verlag.
1963a, Werke. Dritter Band: Schriften zum Chassidismus [Works, Volume Three:
Writings on Hasidism], Munich and Heidelberg: Lambert Schneider Verlag.
1963b, Der Jude und sein Judentum. Gesammelte Aufsätze und Reden, Cologne.
1964, Werke. Zweiter Band: Schriften zur Bibel [Works, Volume Two: Writings on
the Bible], Munich and Heidelberg: Lambert Schneider Verlag.
1965, Nachlese. Heidelberg: Lambert Schneider. English translation: 1967a.
1972-75, Briefwechsel aus sieben Jahrzehnten, edited by Grete Schaeder, Volume I:
1897-1918 (1972), Volume II: 1918-1938 (1973), Volume III: 1938-1965 (1975),
Heidelberg: Lambert Schneider.
Buber in English
1937, I and Thou, transl. by Ronald Gregor Smith, Edinburgh: T. and T. Clark, 2nd
Edition New York: Scribners, 1958. 1st Scribner Classics ed. New York, NY:
Scribner, 2000, c1986
1952, Eclipse of God, New York: Harper and Bros. Publ. 2nd Edition Westport, Conn.:
Greenwood Press, 1977.
1957, Pointing the Way, transl. Maurice Friedman. New York: Harper, 1957, 2nd
Edition New York: Schocken, 1974.
1960, The Origin and Meaning of Hasidism, transl. M. Friedman, New York: Horizon
1965, The Knowledge of Man, transl. Ronald Gregor Smith and Maurice Friedman,
New York: Harper & Row. 2nd Edition New York, 1966.
1966,The way of response: Martin Buber; selections from his writings, edited by N.
N. Glatzer. New York: Schocken Books.
1967a, A Believing Humanism: My Testament, translation of Nachlese (Heidelberg
1965), transl. by M. Friedman, New York: Simon and Schuster.
1967b, On Judaism, edited by Nahum Glatzer and transl. by Eva Jospe and others,
New York: Schocken Books.
1968, On the Bible: Eighteen Studies, edited by Nahum Glatzer, New York: Schocken
1970a, I and Thou, a new translation with a prologue “I and you” and notes by Walter
Kaufmann, New York: Scribner's Sons.
1970b, Mamre: essays in religion, translated by Greta Hort. Westport, Conn.:
1970c, Martin Buber and the theater, including Martin Buber's “mystery play”
Elijah. Edited and translated with three introductory essays by Maurice Friedman.
New York, Funk & Wagnalls.
1972, Encounter; autobiographical fragments. La Salle, Ill.: Open Court.
1973a, On Zion; the history of an idea. With a new foreword by Nahum N. Glatzer.
Translated from the German by Stanley Godman. New York: Schocken Books.
1973b, Meetings. Edited with an introd. and bibliography by Maurice Friedman. La
Salle, Ill.: Open Court Pub. Co., 3rd ed. London, New York: Routledge, 2002.
1983, A land of two peoples: Martin Buber on Jews and Arabs, edited with
commentary by Paul R. Mendes-Flohr. New York: Oxford University Press, 2nd
Edition Gloucester, Mass.: Peter Smith, 1994
1985, Ecstatic confessions, edited by Paul Mendes-Flohr; translated by Esther
Cameron. San Francisco: Harper & Row.
1991a, Chinese tales: Zhuangzi, sayings and parables and Chinese ghost and love
stories, translated by Alex Page; with an introduction by Irene Eber. Atlantic
Highlands, N.J.: Humanities Press International.
1991b, Tales of the Hasidim, foreword by Chaim Potok. New York : Schocken
Books, distributed by Pantheon.
1992, On intersubjectivity and cultural creativity, edited and with an introduction by
S.N. Eisenstadt. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
1994, Scripture and translation. Martin Buber and Franz Rosenzweig; translated by
Lawrence Rosenwald with Everett Fox. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
1999a, The first Buber: youthful Zionist writings of Martin Buber, edited and
translated from the German by Gilya G. Schmidt. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse
1999b, Martin Buber on psychology and psychotherapy: essays, letters, and dialogue,
edited by Judith Buber Agassi ; with a foreword by Paul Roazin. New York: Syracuse
1999c, Gog and Magog: a novel, translated from the German by Ludwig Lewisohn.
Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press.
2002a, The legend of the Baal-Shem, translated by Maurice Friedman. London:
2002b, Between man and man, translated by Ronald Gregor-Smith; with an
introduction by Maurice Friedman. London, New York: Routledge.
2002c, The way of man: according to the teaching of Hasidim, London: Routledge.
2002d, The Martin Buber reader: essential writings, edited by Asher D. Biemann.
New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
2002e, Ten rungs: collected Hasidic sayings, translated by Olga Marx. London:
2003, Two types of faith, translated by Norman P. Goldhawk with an afterword by
David Flusser. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press.
Major Edited Volumes on Martin Buber
Bloch, Jochanan/Gordon, Hayyim (ed.), 1983, Martin Buber. Bilanz seines Denkens,
Freiburg i. B.
Licharz, Werner/Schmidt, Heinz (ed.), 1989, Martin Buber (1878-1965).
Internationales Symposium zum 20. Todestag. Two volumes (Series: Arnoldshainer
Texte), HAAG + HERCHEN.
Schilpp, Paul Arthur/Friedman, Maurice (ed.), 1963, Martin Buber, (Series:
Philosophen des 20. Jahrhunderts), Stuttgart. English edition: 1967, The Philosophy of
Martin Buber. (Series: Library of Living Philosophers, vol. XII). Lasalle/Ill.: Open
Court. Among the contributors to this volume are, aside from Buber himself, Max
Brod, Emmanuel Lévinas, Emil Brunner, Emil Fackenheim, Marvin Fox, Nahum
Glatzer, Mordecai Kaplan, Walter Kaufmann, Gabriel Marcel, Nathan Rotenstreich,
Rivka Schatz-Uffenheimer, Ernst Simon, Jacob Taubes, C.F. von Weizsäcker, and
On Buber's Philosophy of Dialogue
Avnon, Dan, 1998, Martin Buber. The Hidden Dialogue, Lanham, Boulder, New
York, Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publ.
Babolin, A., 1965, Essere e Alteritá in Martin Buber, Padova.
Balthasar, Hans Urs von, 1958, Einsame Zwiesprache. Martin Buber und das
Berkovits, Eliezer, 1962, A Jewish Critique of the Philosophy of Martin Buber. New
York, Yeshiva University.
Bloch, J., 1971, Die Aporie des Du, Heidelberg.
Blumenfeld, Walter, 1951, La antropologia filosofica de Martin Buber y la filosofia
antropologica; un essayo, Lima.
Casper, Bernhard, 1967, Das dialogische Denken: Franz Rosenzweig, Ferdinand
Ebner, Martin Buber, Freiburg i. B., Basel, Wien: Herder Verlag.
Dujovne, L., 1966, Martin Buber; sus ideas religiosas, filosoficas y sociales, Buenos
Friedman, Maurice, 1955, Martin Buber. The Life of Dialogue, Chicago.
Horwitz, Rivka, 1978, Buber's Way to I and Thou. An Historical Analysis,
Koren, Israel, 2002, “Between Buber's Daniel and His I and Thou: A New
Examination” in Modern Judaism 22 (2002): 169-198.
Lang, B., 1964, Martin Buber und das dialogische Leben, Bern.
Mendes-Flohr, Paul, 1989, From Mysticism to Dialogue. Martin Buber's
transformation of German social thought. Detroit: Wayne State University Press.
Poma, Andrea, 1974, La filosofia dialogica di Martin Buber, Torino.
Schaeder, Grete, 1966, Martin Buber, Hebräischer Humanismus, Göttingen. English:
1973, The Hebrew Humanism of Martin Buber, transl. by Noah J. Jacobs, Detroit.
Theunissen, Michael, 1964, “Bubers negative Ontologie des Zwischen” in
Philosophisches Jarhbuch, pp. 319-330.
Theunissen, Michael, 1965, Der Andere. Studien zur Sozialontologie der Gegenwart,
Wood, R., 1969, Martin Buber's ontology; an analysis of “I and Thou”, Evanston.
Literature on Other Aspects of Buber's Life and Work
Kohn, Hans, 1930, Martin Buber, Hellerau, Second edition: Cologne, 1961. First
biography of Buber, published on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday.
Simon, Ernst, 1959, Aufbau im Untergang. Tübingen. English: 1956, “Jewish adult
education in Nazi Germany as spiritual resistence”, in: First Yearbook of the Leo
Baeck Institute, London, pp. 68-105. On the Mittelstelle für jüdische
Erwachsenenbildung, a centralized institution, run by Buber from 1933-38, in charge
of reeducating Jewish teachers who had been forced out of the general school system
under the Nazis.
Smith, M. K. (2000) ‘Martin Buber on education’, The Encyclopaedia of Informal
Education. [Available online, last update: November 15, 2002.]
Other Internet Resources
Martic Buber Homepage, The English language website of the German Martin Buber
Buber Timeline, A brief biographic sketch maintained by the online project of the
Museum for German History in Berlin.