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Heilman on Voegelin's Style
in Israel and Revelation


No stylistic adjutant could do more than the most minor adjustments at the edge of the outworks. All these I would give up for what is essential in your style—at the most obvious level, the incredibly easy mastery of a technical vocabulary; at the next level, that combination of knowledge and feeling which is always present but which at times is more intense and infuses a passage with especial power, as of the scholar and prophet in one—as in the last paragraph on p. xiv , and in a good deal of the Introduction, perhaps more markedly on pp. 1 and 2 ; and then on occasion a kind of poetic effect, when the more technical vocabulary is less conspicuous and the language of evocation is aided by a grace of rhythm which I believe would be remarkable even in a native user of the language (e.g., the sentence beginning "We move in a charmed community..." p. 3 ). All these gifts make an instrument of expression strong enough so that petty irregularities, if there are any left, are easily tolerated.

It's hardly becoming of me to go beyond the verbal medium, but I have to say that in reading just a few pages I experience again that very rare feeling of being in the presence not only of great learning, which is clear to all, and not only of great learning conjoined with the seer's passion, which is much less frequent than scholarship alone, but of this combination held with a sort of serenity in which are both power and wisdom. And here, lest I become embarrassing, I stop. I will read, as you know, with limited competence, but with a lot of application and enthusiasm, and with enough gifts to learn I hope, and with the kind of perspicacity that will enable me to steal for the embellishment of anything I may do hereafter.

Robert B. Heilman and Eric Voegelin
A Friendship in Letters, 1944-1984,
Philia Politike,
Letter 66, Seattle, October 13, 1956 ,

pp 160.

Footnote . The original edition of Israel and Revelation, Volume I of Order and History, was published in 1956. That was the occasion for this letter. It was republished as Volume 14 of the Collected Works in 2001. The pagination is not identical, but a concordance has been worked into the Table of Contents and may be found HERE.
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