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Paul Tillich asks Martin Buber a question

April 3, 2013

I shared this anecdote over in a discussion thread at Nick Norelli’s blog; but I think some BLT readers might enjoy it too.  It appears in David Novak’s Talking with Christians.  It describes the relationship between Paul Tillich and one of Tillich’s most significant intellectual influences, Martin Buber.

I heard [this story] from someone who was in attendance at a lecture [Martin] Buber delivered at Union Theological Seminary in New York in 1952, during his first visit to America, a visit that made a profound impression on American intellectual circles. At the end of the lecture, Buber indicated that he would entertain questions from the audience. From the back of the crowded lecture hall, Paul Tillich arose and quite respectfully (as was his usual manner) addressed a rather complicated question to Buber. According to my reliable informant, Buber looked up from his text and said, “Ah, Paulus, it is you.” The he walked down the aisle and stood directly in front of Tillich, who was considerably taller than he, raised his index finger up at Tillich’s startled face and said, “Paulus, Paulus, you asked me the same question in Germany thirty years ago. Don’t you remember what I answered you then?!”

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