Will Herberg

Will Herberg books and biography

Will Herberg

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Will Herberg (1901-1977) was an American Jewish writer, intellectual and scholar. He was known as a social philosopher and sociologist of religion, as well as a Jewish theologian.

He was brought up in a secular Jewish family in Manhattan, and became a communist, a follower of Jay Lovestone in the American Communist Party. He later turned away from Marxism and became a religious conservative, founding the quarterly Judaism with Robert Gordis and Milton Konvitz. During the 1960s he was Religion Editor of the conservative journal National Review, and taught at Drew University.

His essay, Protestant, Catholic, Jew, created a sociological framework for the study of religion in the United States. Herberg demonstrated how immigration and American ethnic culture were reflected in religious movements and institutions.[1] During the 1950s, this book, as well as the essay Judaism and Modern Man, set out influential positions, on Judaism and on the American religious tradition in general.


Cut flower culture

Herberg is credited with coining the phrase "cut flower culture" to describe the spiritual rootlessness of modern European and American societies. This epithet is typically taken to imply that these societies cannot long survive without being regrafted onto their Judeo-Christian roots. In Judaism and Modern Man, Herberg writes ...

The attempt made in recent decades by secularist thinkers to disengage the moral principles of western civilization from their scripturally based religious context, in the assurance that they could live a life of their own as "humanistic" ethics, has resulted in our "cut flower culture." Cut flowers retain their original beauty and fragrance, but only so long as they retain the vitality that they have drawn from their now-severed roots; after that is exhausted, they wither and die. So with freedom, brotherhood, justice, and personal dignity — the values that form the moral foundation of our civilization. Without the life-giving power of the faith out of which they have sprung, they possess neither meaning nor vitality.


  • The Heritage of the Civil War (1932)
  • The Principles of Unionism (1936)
  • The CIO, Labor's New Challenge (1937)
  • Judaism and Modern Man: An Interpretation of Jewish Religion (1951)
  • Protestant, Catholic, Jew. An essay in American religious sociology (1955)
  • The Writings Of Martin Buber (1956) editor
  • Four Existentialist Theologians, a Reader from the Works of Jacques Maritain, Nicholas Berdyaev, Martin Buber, and Paul Tillich (1958)
  • Faith Enacted As History: Essays in Biblical Theology (1976)
  • From Marxism to Judaism: The Collected Essays of Will Herberg (1992) edited by David Dalin


  1. ^ Schwartz, Joel (2004). "Protestant, Catholic, Jew ... (retrospective book review)". Public Interest 155 (Spring): 106-136.
  • Harry J. Ausmus (1986) Will Herberg: A Bio-Bibliography
  • Harry J. Ausmus (1987) Will Herberg: From Right to Right

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