The Metamorphosis of Finitude: An Essay on Birth and Resurrection

The Metamorphosis of Finitude: An Essay on Birth and Resurrection

The Metamorphosis of Finitude: An Essay on Birth and Resurrection

The Metamorphosis of Finitude: An Essay on Birth and Resurrection

Synopsis

This book starts off from a philosophical premise: nobody can be in the world unless they are born into the world. It examines this premise in the light of the theological belief that birth serves, or ought to serve, as a model for understanding what resurrection could signify for us today. After all, the modern Christian needs to find some way of understanding resurrection, and the dogma of the resurrection of the body is vacuous unless we can relate it philosophically to our own worldof experience. Nicodemus first posed the question "How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother's womb and be born?" This book reads that problem in the context of contemporary philosophy (particularly the thought of Husserl, Heidegger, Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, and Deleuze). A phenomenology of the body born "from below" is seen as a paradigm for a theology of spiritual rebirth, and for rebirth of the body from "on high." The Resurrectionchanges everything in Christianity - but it is also our own bodies that must be transformed in resurrection, as Christ is transfigured. And the way in which I hope to be resurrected bodily in God, in the future, depends upon the way in which I live bodily today.

Excerpt

The Metamorphosis of Finitude is part of a “triptych” of books. It was preceded by Le Passeur de Gethsémani (The Guide to Gethsemane) and is followed by Les Noces de l’Agneau (The Nuptials of the Lamb).

What runs through all three books is the conviction that the theological truths of the Easter Triduum (the Passion, the Resurrection, and the Eucharist) need to be examined in the light of philosophical experience (agony, birth, and the body). French phenomenology, which has long been important in France, and is perhaps even better known on the other side of the Atlantic, has been a great help in this respect. But it has not been a question of following one particular current of thought, if indeed phenomenology can be regarded as a current of thought. the new, in philosophy as in theology, cannot be formulated except insofar as it arises from what was there before. That is why we need to make our way through tradition—and take full account of it—in trying to say what the resurrection could mean for us today.

We must, however, take care. My “philosophical triduum” is not addressed solely to philosophers, theologians, or even just to believers. the basic statements of Christianity are also part of the unfolding of a more general culture. If we forget that, we risk losing our rootedness in the old Europe, as much as in what became the New World and its continent. the challenge for Christian philosophy is not just to make it possible to believe Christian dogma but also and above all to make it credible. What it tells us, in particular here concerning the act of resurrection or of “rebirth,” is . . .

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