Overview (Masterplots II: Christian Literature)
Figuring the Sacred, edited and introduced by Mark I. Wallace, includes essays published between 1971 and 1992 by Paul Ricur, former professor emeritus of the University of Chicago Divinity School and a winner of the John W. Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Human Sciences. The collection is divided into five parts: an examination of the nature of religious discourse; resolution of conflicting philosophical positions on religion held by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804), Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), and Emmanuel Lévinas (1906-1995); critical analysis of the polyphonous nature of different biblical literary genres; hermeneutical and phenomenological arguments about hope, evil, and the narrative of self-identity; and homiletics that convert recondite metaphysical arguments into principles for everyday moral action. The inconclusiveness of Ricur’s dialogic mode of argument and his use of abstruse philosophic and semiotic terminology can conceal from all but the most determined readers his profound views on religious belief.
In the first part of Figuring the Sacred, Ricur establishes the importance of discourse analysis in interpreting Judeo-Christian tradition inasmuch as that tradition arises from the interlaced faith of different communities whose particular languages and idioms give enduring meaning to religious belief. Linguistic analysis is especially important because of the value the Bible places upon the Word. However, Ricur...
(The entire section is 1074 words.)
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