Blau, Joseph L. (Joseph Leon), 1909-1986

Alternative names
Birth 1909-05-06
Death 1986-12-28

Biographical notes:

Columbia, A.B., 1931; M.A., 1933; Ph.D., 1944. Professor of religion and philosophy at Columbia University. Member of Fraternity of Leaders of the American Ethical Union; author and scholar in field of American philosophical and religious thought.

From the description of Joseph L. Blau papers, 1912-1987. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 467178844

Member of Fraternity of Leaders; author and scholar in field of American philosophical and religious thought.

From the description of Papers, 1956-1986. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155488791

Born in Brooklyn, New York on May 6, 1909, Dr. Blau received his elementary and high school education in the public schools of New York and New Jersey before entering Columbia. He was awarded his B.A. in 1931. Upon graduation he began teaching in New York's public schools; two years later he completed a thesis on John Biddle, the founder of English Unitarianism, and received an M.A. in English Literature from Columbia. In 1934 he was awarded a fellowship for work toward the Ph.D in Columbia's Philosophy Department. During the following years, Dr. Blau worked as an assistant to Prof. Herbert W. Schneider before completing and publishing his dissertation, The Christian Interpretation of the Cabala in the Renaissance in 1944.

In 1944 Dr. Blau joined Columbia's philosophy department. In succeeding years, he taught courses in American intellectual history and the philosophy of religion. In 1962 after teaching for nearly twenty years in the Philosophy Department, he became a member of the Department of Religion. He served as chairman of this newly-created department from 1965 to 1968 and as director of graduate studies in religion from 1962 to 1974.. During these years Dr. Blau taught undergraduate and graduate courses and seminars and directed dissertations on a wide variety of subjects. He retired from active teaching in June 1977.

During his years at Columbia Dr. Blau authored and edited several books in philosophy and religion including Social Theories of Jacksonian Democracy (1947); Cornerstones of Religious Freedom in America (1949; revised and enlarged ed., 1965); The Story of Jewish Philosophy (1962); and Modern Varieties of Judaism (1966). He is perhaps best known for his work Men and Movements in American Philosophy (1952) which was translated into six languages and became a standard textbook in universities throughout the world. In addition he wrote hundreds of essays, articles and book reviews for both popular and scholarly journals.

While a member of Columbia's.faculty, Dr. Blau was associated with many professional learned organizations including the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Philosophic Association, the American Ethical Union and the American Jewish Historical Society. In addition he held several research fellowships and grants from both the University and outside institutions.

On December 28, 1986 Dr. Blau died at his home in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

For further biographical information as well as a bibliography of Dr. Blau's writings, one may consult History, Religion, and Spiritual Democracy; Essays in Honor of Joseph L. Blau edited by Maurice Wohlgelernter (New York: Columbia University Press, 1980).

From the guide to the Joseph L. Blau Papers, 1912-1987., (Columbia University, Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Butler Library, )


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