Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination

Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination

Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination

Figuring the Sacred: Religion, Narrative, and Imagination

Synopsis

The thought of Paul Ricoeur continues its profound effect on theology, religious studies and biblical interpretation. The 28 papers contained in this volume constitute the most comprehensive overview of Ricoeur's writings in religion since 1970. Ricoeur's hermeneutical orientation and his sensitivity to the mystery of religious language offer fresh insight to the transformative potential of sacred literature, including the Bible.

Excerpt

There has long been a need for a systematic collection of Paul Ricoeur’s important writings in religious studies. This volume is the most comprehensive anthology of Ricoeur’s work in the related fields of history of religions, philosophy of religion, biblical studies, theology, and practical theology. I have included here twenty-one of his most representative articles in religion, beginning with his early biblical and theological writings of the 1970s to his more recent studies on such topics as Emmanuel Levinas’s notion of testimony, the identity of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark, and the meaning of suffering in theology after the Holocaust. The collection includes theological articles, philosophical essays, exegetical papers, and sermons, and many of these pieces have been expressly translated for this volume. The book is organized topically and chronologically to aid the reader’s critical appreciation of the full scope of Ricoeur’s religious thought.

I am deeply grateful to numerous individuals who assisted in the completion of this project. My student research assistants at Swarthmore College—Alex Vishio, Erin Sawyer, Sean Latham, and Ben Bryson—prepared chapter drafts and helped with bibliographical work. They were joined at Swarthmore by Steven Sowards, humanities librarian, and Eileen McElrone, administrative assistant, in the laborious task of securing permissions for the book’s contents. Kenner Swain and Eric Crump, faithful friends from the University of Chicago, shared with me some of Ricoeur’s unpublished manuscripts and made helpful suggestions as to the final shape of the book’s contents. John van den Hengel regularly kept me up-to-date regarding Ricoeur’s oeuvre, helping me with the task of organizing an anthology around a thinker whose published work is always expanding. Tim Staveteig and Michael West at Fortress Press provided careful oversight of the project from start to finish. David Pellauer expertly translated the many texts included here, and together we mapped out the original vision for this project and the final composition of the volume. Paul Ricoeur generously gave his permission to publish some of the unpublished material in his possession, as well as his overall authorization to collect his writings in this format. Ellen Ross reviewed drafts of the manuscript and provided . . .

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