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Menno R. Kamminga

This article revisits theologian Ulrich Duchrow’s three-decade-old use of the Protestant notion of status confessionis to denounce the capitalist global economy. Scholars quickly dismissed Duchrow’s argument; however, philosopher Thomas Pogge has developed a remarkable “negative duty”—based critique of the current global economic order that might help revitalize Duchrow’s position. The article argues that sound reasons exist for the churches to declare the contemporary world economy a—provisionally termed—status confessionis minor. After explaining the inadequacy of Duchrow’s original position and summarizing Pogge’s account, the article develops a twofold argument. First, Pogge’s in-depth inquiry into the world economy gives Duchrow’s call for a status confessionis a strong yet narrowing economic foundation. Second, to declare the world economy a status confessionis minor is theological-ethically justifiable if the limited though indispensable “prophetic” significance of doing so is acknowledged. Thus, Duchrow’s approach is justified, but only partially.

Andrew Basden and Sina Joneidy

Meaning is important in everyday life, and each science focuses on certain ways in which reality is meaningful. This article (the second of two) discusses practical implications of Herman Dooyeweerd’s understanding of meaning for everyday experience, scientific theories, scientific methodology, and philosophical underpinning. It uses eight themes related to meaning in Dooyeweerd’s philosophy, which are discussed philosophically in the first article (and summarised here). This article ends with a case study in which the themes are applied together to understanding Thomas Kuhn’s notion of paradigms.

Roel Jongeneel

In contrast to the dominant way of thinking in economics, in which economics is seen as a positive or neutral science, this paper argues that economics is a discipline that has its own normativity. This economic normativity should be distinguished from what is usually considered as ethics, which normally has a broader scope (e.g., stewardship). This paper further argues that the budget constraint is a key source of economic normativity, although it is not the only source. Economic-theoretical and philosophical aspects are discussed, and consequences for economic life and policy are assessed.

Michael J. DeMoor

This paper offers a characterization and critique of the idea of bounded rationality and its consequences for public policy. It offers an alternative way of accounting for the crucial features of human rationality that bounded rationality sees, using categories inspired by the Reformational philosophy of Herman Dooyeweerd and others, and then shows how this alternative account of the “bounds” of human rationality points toward an alternative orientation toward public policy-making.

Sandra Lehmann

Abstract

This essay follows the assumption that the first principle of classical metaphysics has its counterpart in political sovereignty as suprema potestas. Therefore, both can be equally described as arché. Their epitome is the God of so-called ontotheology, who thus proves to be what I call the Ur-Arché. In contrast to current post-metaphysical approaches, however, I suggest overcoming ontotheology through a different metaphysics, which emphasizes the self-transcending surplus character of being. I regard early Christian martyrdom as an eminent way in which the surplus of being is manifested. This has two interwoven aspects, one ontological and one political, both arising from the excessive idea of the Christ event, or the notion that there is life beyond life unto death. I will analyse the mechanism allowing early Christian martyrs to counteract Roman imperial sovereignty. Finally, I will relate this to contemporary life systems in which sovereignty has become anonymous biopower.

From the Unconditioned to Unconditional Claims

Violence, Radical Theology, and Crisis

Jason W. Alvis and Jeffrey W. Robbins

Andrew Benjamin

Abstract

The aim of this paper is to develop a conception of God that works with the identification of being-before-the-law and being-with-God. In addition, it argues that developing a rethinking of God along such lines necessitates, equally, the development of the concomitant political theology and philosophical anthropology that such a repositioning of God envisages. Processes of subject creation have to be thought in relation to any philosophical engagement with the law.

Kelly Oliver

Abstract

With the upsurge in various forms of religion, especially dogmatic forms that kill in the name of good versus evil, there is an urgent need for intellectuals to acknowledge and analyze the role of religion in contemporary culture and politics. If there is to be any hope for peace, we need to understand how and why religion becomes the justification for violence. In a world where religious intolerance is growing, and the divide between the secular and the religious seems to be expanding, Julia Kristeva’s writings bridge the gap and once again provide a path where others have seen only an impasse. Her approach is unique in its insistent attempt to understand the violence both contained and unleashed by religion. Moreover, she rearticulates a notion of the sacred apart from religious dogmatism, a sense of the sacred that is precisely lacking in fundamentalism.

The “Light of Light Beyond Light”

Derrida’s “Question” and the Meta-ontological Origins of Philosophy and Violence

Carl Raschke

Abstract

Despite Jürgen Habermas’ famous suggestion that the violence of history might be mitigated by “the liquidation of unconditional claims,” the issue of whether monotheistic religions and the metaphysical rationality they engender are indeed the hidden source of such violence remains an open one. This essay explores how Derrida with his project “deconstruction” sought to deal in a manner unique to philosophy with the question of the relationship between violence, the unconditional, and the ontological. It proposes that Derrida’s “Jew-Greek” dilemma, which encapsulates the problem of the “violence” of metaphysics, is resolved through Levinas’ project of disrupting Husserlian phenomenology with an alterity that is not simply a heteron that disintermediates the logic of predication, but one that challenges what is normally meant by philosophy itself.

Unconditional Responsibility in the Face of Disastrous Violence

Thoughts on religio and the History of Human Mortality

Burkhard Liebsch

Abstract

This essay draws attention to the question how a strong notion of unconditional responsibility in the face of the other’s mortality (as it was claimed by Emmanuel Levinas) is related to the historical experience of a disastrous violence that seems to annihilate not only numerous bodies, lives, identities and histories but, rather, any responsible religio to the other – whether living or dead. It is well known, that Levinas claimed that human responsibility demands not to let the other alone in his death. But if the other is already dead – like numerous others who share the same fate – keeps human responsibility silent, then? And how is this religio of human responsibility related to forms of disastrous violence which seem to deny it?

Violence and the Unconditional

A Radical Theology of Culture

John D. Caputo

Abstract

I distinguish between the deep culture and the manifest culture, the relationship between the two constituting a circle, which constitutes the circulation of a radical theology of culture. The deep culture surfaces in the manifest, and the manifest draws upon the depths; neither one without the other. My hypothesis is that religion is an expression of the deep culture and for that reason, religion is not accidentally violent; religion is violent in virtue of something essential to religion. Religion is playing with the fire of the concealed depths, of the unconditional, of the impossible, of the undeconstructible. Religion is the best way to save the world, but it also the best way to burn it down. It is both of these things and in virtue of the same property. This is not to say that religion is structurally violent, always and necessarily violent. It is structurally ambiguous, dangerous, on the verge of violence, whipsawing between radical violence and radical non-violence, between martyrdom and murder. Religious beliefs are not the cause of the violence but often a façade for deeper, visceral nationalism or ethnic hatred, The reaction of Christian right to the contemporary world is naive and simplistic but not superficial; it reflects a visceral fear of the postmodern world. Religion is a matter of being claimed by something unconditional, which means it should have the good sense not to lay claim to it. We should never trust anything that has not passes through that apophasis. Before any claims we make, we are laid claim to in advance by the unconditional, the undeconstructible, which Schelling calls the prius, the “un-pre-thinkable” (das Unvordenkliche). The unconditional in the optimal sense is love, which is an expenditure made without the expectation of a return, like loving one’s enemies, which is impossible, the impossible. But love does not get a pass. What would we not do for love? In that question is concentrated all the ambiguity of love, all the courage of the martyr, but no less the violence of the suicide bomber.

Tzahi Weiss

Abstract

The Babylonian Talmud contains a tale about the creation of an artificial calf by two sages who dealt with hilkhot yetzirah, or laws of formation (b. Sanhedrin 65b). Already in the eleventh century CE the phrase “Laws of Formation” was being used to refer to the short, enigmatic, and influential treatise Sefer Yetzirah (Book of Formation), which depicts the creation of the world by means of the twenty-two letters of the Hebrew alphabet. The connection between hilkhot yetzirah and Sefer Yetzirah is of great consequence in determining the period in which the latter was edited, as well as its reception history.

Rachel Adelman

Abstract

This paper compares the Babylonian and Palestinian talmudic traditions on the fate of the ark of the covenant—either lost before or during the Babylonian conquest, or buried in the Temple precincts (b. Yom’a 53b–54a; y. Sheqalim 6:1–2, 49c). In the Babylonian Talmud, the ark and the cherubim are described in highly erotic, feminized terms, blurring traditional gender categories of Israel and God. The feminization of the ark serves as a “survival strategy” to counter the defiling gaze of the gentile conqueror, but also preserves the sacred center as a locus of longing for Jews in diaspora.

Jonatan Meir

Abstract

One of the distinctive literary genres of Bratslav Hasidism is the shir yedidot (Song of Endearment), a mystical poem concerning the stature of the soul of R. Naḥman of Bratslav. These poems, still sung by Hasidim today, contain esoteric traditions that reveal the multiple voices within Bratslav Hasidism. This article traces the development of this form from the beginning of the nineteenth century until the present, and argues that changes in emphasis within these songs reflect shifts in Bratslav theology over the years. The study thus presents a more complex historical picture of Bratslav Hasidism, which has usually been seen as one monolithic unit.

Ariel Evan Mayse

Abstract

This essay interrogates the legal discourse of Shulḥan ha-Tahor, a curious—and curiously understudied—work of Hasidic halakhah written by Rabbi Yitzḥak Ayzik Yehudah Yehiel Safrin of Komarno. The book is, at heart, a systematic reformulation of Jewish law in light of Kabbalah, Hasidism, and the quest for personal mystical experience. Shulḥan ha-Tahor offers a rare case study for the interface of mystical experience, Hasidic devotional values, and kabbalistic doctrine as they explicitly shape the codified forms—and norms—of halakhah. The essay reveals a different side of Jewish modernity through a close reading of an exceptional nineteenth-century legal code.

The Aggrieved Community

Nancy and Blanchot in Dialogue

Kevin Hart

Abstract

Does “community” contain an ineradicable memory of “communion,” and thereby inevitably have conceptual ties to Christianity, if not to fascism? Or can the word, rather, indicate a new way of being in common, one that became briefly visible in the communist experiment, understood first as the appearing of the truth of democracy before it collapsed under the weight of ideology and militarism? While Jean-Luc Nancy identifies motifs from Maurice Blanchot’s early right-wing political commitments in his later left-wing thought, this essay addresses and critiques another of Nancy’s claims: that despite Blanchot’s affirmation of a community unregulated by a reference to unity, he is, in fact, committed to the Christian notion of communion. However, Blanchot distanced his notion of inter-subjectivity from any conception of God, proposing, instead, a “dissymmetric” rather than asymmetric relation, grounded in the encounter of the Other’s death rather than in some trace of the divine.

Emmanuel Falque

Translator Sarah Horton

Abstract

Phenomenology must begin to acknowledge the organic, animal nature of the body instead of focusing only on the pure subjectivity of the flesh. Mediating between Descartes’s extended body (a mere object that is entirely distinct from the self) and Husserl’s lived body (the flesh that is the self), the spread body is the organic body that I have, that is not simply myself and yet is mine. This essay reveals the steep cost of phenomenology’s neglect of the body, which produces a discarnation, or dissolution of the flesh itself. The “flesh without body” vanishes into transparency, exemplified by Descartes’ “madmen” who lose all connection to their organic bodies, to the point of supposing that their bodies are glass. Because organicity is in fact proper to us, denying or rejecting its import can lead only to madness.

Double Hospitality

Between Word and Touch

Richard Kearney

Abstract

A precarious balance exists between remaining faithful to one’s own language and history while also maintaining an ethical attentiveness to the Other. The danger in the former is the penchant for colonizing and violently reducing the Other. The danger of the later is a supine servility and inability to offer a linguistic home for welcoming the Other. To navigate these two extremes, the conditional hospitality of Ricoeur’s hermeneutics is brought into dialogue with the unconditional hospitality of Derrida’s deconstruction. What is needed is the more embodied approach of a carnal hospitality that assists in discerning the right ways of touching and not touching, of uniting word and body, teaching us how to incarnate the impossible possibility of reconciliation and forgiveness with the stranger.

John Panteleimon Manoussakis, Brian W. Becker and Matthew Clemente

Irresponsibility and the Eternal Return of Religion

A Review of Religion in Contemporary European Cinema: the Postsecular Constellation

William J. Hendel

Phenomenology and Ritual Practice

For Broadening Contemporary Philosophical Study of Religious Experience

Christina M. Gschwandtner

Abstract

This paper highlights several problems in the contemporary phenomenological analysis of religious experience in Continental philosophy of religion, especially in its French iteration, as manifested in such thinkers as Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Henry, Jean-Yves Lacoste, Jean-Louis Chrétien, Emmanuel Falque, and others. After laying out the main issues, the paper proposes a fuller investigation of religious practices, such as liturgy or ritual, as a fruitful way to address some of the identified limitations. The final section of the paper assesses what questions remain and how one might draw on existing resources in these thinkers to push a phenomenological analysis of religious practices further in ways that broaden phenomenology of religion beyond its current somewhat narrow strictures and commitments.

Road Not Taken

A Review of Raoul Moati’s Levinas and the Night of Being

Eric Severson

Jean-Luc Marion

Translator Brian W. Becker

Abstract

This essay traces the phenomenon of revelation beginning with the humblest (sports), to the most personal (love), to the most exalted (religion). Through this analysis, we discover several qualities of revelation: it reveals itself from itself, reveals a new world to me, and reveals another me to myself and to others. Turning to divine Revelation, a further set of concepts is uncovered: the witness who encounters a Revelation without understanding it, a resistance to the testimony of the witness, and a paradox that provokes this resistance by exceeding expectations. These qualities make Revelation both more intelligible and meaningful. For, while holding an exceptional privilege, divine Revelation nonetheless remains in continuity with phenomenality in general and, in arriving from elsewhere by its own initiative, it opens my eyes to the unfolding of its unseen reserves.

Asher D. Biemann

Abstract

Franz Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption culminates in an aesthetic configuration of simultaneous presences: world, man, God, creation, revelation, and redemption are viewed in a metahistorical side-by-side, connected by the “factualizing power of the And.” But the idea of simultaneity, which is central to Rosenzweig’s configurative thinking, belongs to the historical imagination as much as it belongs to the theological “breaking through the shackles of time.” Rosenzweig’s “and” belongs to both a tradition of cosmic-aesthetic historicism (Meinecke) and the philosophical reconstitution of time as a simultaneous perception. In the co-presence of all historical moments, history’s hidden Gestalt, which only a people that is at once old and young can envision, connects the “and” of history with what Hegel considered history’s end—its ultimate self-recognition. Eternity, then, means neither flight from, nor resistance to, history’s naked fact, but the recognition of history’s Gestalt as an image that “does not tolerate epochs.”

S. Daniel Breslauer

Abstract

Recent studies have renewed focus on Martin Buber’s “theopolitics” in contrast to “theological politics.” The present study expands this work by looking at what Buber meant by God. His approach to the Bible, informed by his view that “extended, the lines of relationship meet in the Eternal Thou,” illuminates his analysis of the five types of biblical leadership. That analysis, far from separating “religion” and “politics,” seemed to assume what might be designated a civil religion. The social order was integrated with religious concerns. Underneath the socio-religious surface, however, Buber discerned universal principles of relationship. Analyzing each stage in biblical leadership as Buber presented it shows how he extended the lines of historical relationships to reveal an aspect of the Eternal Thou.

Nadav Berman Shifman

Abstract

In classical American pragmatism, fallibilism refers to the conception of truth as an ongoing process of improving human knowledge that is nevertheless susceptible to error. This paper traces appearances of fallibilism in Jewish thought in general, and particularly in the halakhic thought of Eliezer Berkovits. Berkovits recognizes the human condition’s persistent mutability, which he sees as characterizing the ongoing effort to interpret and apply halakhah in shifting historical and social contexts as Torat Ḥayyim. In the conclusion of the article, broader questions and observations are raised regarding Jewish tradition, fallibility, and modernity, and the interaction between Judaism and pragmatism in the history of ideas.

Dustin Noah Atlas

Abstract

This paper proposes that Moses Mendelssohn’s Morning Hours be viewed as the final chapter in a philosophy of imperfection that Mendelssohn had been developing over the course of his life. It is further argued that this philosophy of imperfection is still of philosophical interest. After demonstrating that the concept of imperfection animates Mendelssohn’s early work, this paper turns towards the specific arguments about imperfection Mendelssohn made in the midst of the pantheism controversy—in particular, the claim that human imperfection attests to an independent existence. Simply put: God knows human imperfection, but does not possess it. Therefore, there is a sense in which humans, because of our imperfections, are distinct from God. It is shown that, at least in part, Mendelssohn’s entry into the pantheism controversy, and his willingness to engage even his recently departed friend Lessing in argument, is part of his strategy to preserve his philosophy of imperfection.

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Ulrich Winkler, Lidia Rodríguez Fernández and Oddbjørn Leirvik

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Ulrich Winkler, Lidia Rodríguez Fernández and Oddbjørn Leirvik

Twenty-First Century Theologies of Religions

Retrospection and Future Prospects

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Edited by Elizabeth Harris, Paul Hedges and Shanthikumar Hettiarachchi

Within Christian theology, debates on the theology of religions have intensified over the last thirty or so years. This volume surveys the field and maps future directions in this expanding and important area of research. Both established experts and new voices address typological debates, comparative theology, multiple religious belonging or identity, and how dialogue between different religious traditions affects our understanding of these issues. Different perspectives and traditions are represented, and, while focusing upon debates in Christian theology, voices and perspectives from a range of religious traditions are also included. This volume is an essential tool for research students and established scholars working within the theology of religions and interreligious studies.

Contributors are: Graham Adams, Tony Bayfield, Abraham Velez de Cea, Gavin D’Costa, Reuven Firestone, Ray Gaston, Elizabeth Harris, Paul Hedges, Shanthikumar Hettiarachchi, Haifaa Jawad, Kristin Beise Kiblinger, Paul F. Knitter, Oddbjørn Leirvik, Marianne Moyaert, Mark Owen, Alan Race, Sigrid Rettenbacher, Perry Schmidt-Leukel, Leonard Swidler, Philip Whitehead, Janet Williams, Ulrich Winkler.

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Ulrich Winkler, Lidia Rodríguez Fernández and Oddbjørn Leirvik

Contested Spaces, Common Ground

Space and Power Structures in Contemporary Multireligious Societies

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Edited by Ulrich Winkler, Lidia Rodríguez Fernández and Oddbjørn Leirvik

Spaces are produced and shaped by discourses and, in turn, produce and shape discourses themselves. ‘Space’ is becoming a significant and complex concept for the encounter between people, cultures, religions, ideologies, politics, between histories and memories, the advantaged and the disadvantaged, the powerful and the weak. As a result, it provides a rich hermeneutical and methodological inventory for mapping interculturality and interreligiosity. This volume looks at space as a critical theory and epistemological tool within cultural studies that fosters the analysis of power structures and the deconstruction of representations of identities within our societies that are shaped by power.

Religious Experience Revisited

Expressing the Inexpressible?

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Edited by Thomas Hardtke, Ulrich Schmiedel and Tobias Tan

Religious Experience Revisited explores a dilemma which has haunted the study of religion since William James. Is religion rooted in experiences? Is religion rooted in expressions? How are experiences and expressions related? The contributors to this international and interdisciplinary compilation explore the possibilities and the impossibilities of a hermeneutics of religion. Combining theology and philosophy with biblical, cultural, historical and literary studies, they examine how religious experiences and religious expressions have been entangled in the past and in the present. These entanglements call for interdisciplinary conversations in which those who study experiences and those who study expressions can learn from each other in order to carve out important and instructive spaces for the study of religion.

Althusser and Theology

Religion, Politics and Philosophy

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Edited by Agon Hamza

Religion has always been an object of philosophical analysis, as well as a platform for political practice. One cannot imagine a form of philosophical thinking without its relation to a religion, whether it negates or affirms the latter. In different philosophical orientations, religion also serves as a condition for philosophy.

Althusser and Theology intends not so much to fill a gap in Althusser scholarship as to make an important contribution to the contemporary radical left movement. In this regard, Althusser and Theology is of significant importance in the current debates on the Left concerning its relation to theology. It will also contribute to the ongoing debate on Althusser, as well as opening up a new perspective on his philosophical project.

Contributors are: Roland Boer, Stanislas Breton, Isa Blumi, Geoff Pfeifer, Agon Hamza, Warren Montag, Vittorio Morfino, Knox Peden, Panagiotis Sotiris, Ted Stolze, Jana Tsoneva, and Gabriel Tupinambá.

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Edited by Thomas Hardtke, Ulrich Schmiedel and Tobias Tan