The Disappearance of God

Friedman probes a chain of mysteries that concern the presence or absence of God, including the connection between Nietzsche and Dostoevsky who each independently developed the idea of the death of God.

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This book is about three mysteries. All three concern the presences or absence of God. They involve elements of literature and history, religion and science, and philosophy. The book is also about the Bible. It is also about Nietzsche, Dostoevsky, the mystical system known as the Kabbalah, and the models of the universe that is known as the Big Bang. Readers may choose to approach these mysteries as one would a detective story. The research of scholars does resemble detective work in a variety of ways—clues, deduction, false starts, breakthroughs, patience and unexpected twists. Still this is not a work of fiction. And though the pursuit of mysteries is fascinating and pleasurable in itself, this book is not intended merely to be an entertainment of an intellectual exercise. Mysteries are metaphors for broader phenomena, but it would be an evasion to say the purpose of presenting these puzzles in only metaphorical. These mysteries concern ways in which we humans have portrayed and perceived the presence of absence of God, and they involve the moral consequences of our perceptions.

Page Count

352 pages

Year Published





Richard Elliott Friedman


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Editorial Review

Arguing that "the disappearance or death of God is a substantial part of this century's philosophical and literary legacy," Friedman (Hebrew, comparative literature, Univ. of California, San Diego) probes what he calls three mysteries: the gradual disappearance of God in the Hebrew scriptures, a topic recently considered by Jack Miles in his God: A Biography (LJ 3/1/95), a book Friedman refers to approvingly; Nietzsche's dictum, "God is dead," relating it admirably to the works of Dostoyevsky and the problem of ethics without God; and the mysticism of the Kabbalah and the Big Bang theory. Avoiding the type of Zen and... approach that degrades both religion and science, Friedman offers a credible discussion of contemporary physics and the return of the divine, doing no disservice to either but actually enhancing the relationship between them. (-Library Journal)