Encyclopedia of Religion
and Society

William H. Swatos, Jr. Editor

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(1878-1965) Philosopher, theologian, Zionist thinker and leader, born in Vienna. As a child, Buber lived with his grandfather, a noted midrash scholar.

Buber was an active Zionist who emphasized education, dialogue, and the establishment of a joint Arab-Israeli state. His earliest works retold Hasidic tales (e.g., Tales of Rabbi Nachman and The Legend of the Baal Shem , 1906, 1908, in German). His I and Thou (first German edition, 1923) set forth his philosophical position and won lasting acclaim. In this work he distinguishes "I-it," or instrumental relations, from "I-Thou" relations, which he describes in humanistic terms. The I-Thou relationship leads to his notion of God as the Eternal Thou.

Buber was the first head of the Department of Social Relations at Hebrew University (Jerusalem), joining it as Professor of Social Philosophy in 1938 after the Gestapo forbade his lectures in Germany. He taught there until his retirement in 1951.

M. Herbert Danzger


M. A. Beek and S. Weiland, Martin Buber (Westminster, Md.: Newman, 1968).

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