Words of Christ

Words of Christ

Words of Christ

Words of Christ


In Words of Christ (Paroles du Christ) -- here translated into English for the first time -- Michel Henry asks how Christ can be both human and divine. He considers, further, how we as humans can experience Christ's humanity and divinity through his words. Are we able to recognize this speech as divine, and if so, then how? What can testify to the divine nature of these words? What makes them intelligible? Startling possibilities -- and further questions -- emerge as Henry systematically explores these enigmas. For example, how does the phenomenology of life bring to light the God of which scripture speaks? Might this new region of phenomenality broaden or transform the discipline of phenomenology itself, or theology?

Henry approaches these questions starting from the angle of material phenomenology, but his study has far-reaching implications for other disciplines too. Intended for a wide audience, his work is a uniquely philosophical approach to the question of Christ and to the place of this question in human experience. This highly original, interdisciplinary perspective on Christ's words was Henry's last work, published shortly after his death in 2002.


Jean-Yves Lacoste

From Philosophie et phénoménologie du corps — the first book he wrote, before L’Essence de la manifestation — to Paroles du Christ, the intellectual itinerary of Michel Henry followed a straight line. This was due to a love and an uncompromising search for truth. It was also due (his readers should be aware) to the deepening (approfondissement) of a field of reality, “life’s” own. For Henry, the meaning of “life” is not biological. According to the philosopher, who was probably the most anti-Heideggerian of all the phenomenologists, life is primarily an anti-ecstasy or, we might say, nonexistence. For Heidegger, existence is defined as an essential being-outside-of-oneself. That which exists is perpetually ahead of itself, in concern, in solicitude, in anticipatory resoluteness, and in other phenomena. By contrast, life, for Henry, is the most interior of interiorities, the most immanent kind of immanence. Thus life has no world; it is not “in” any-

1. Completed in 1950, and published later (Philosophie et phénoménologie du corps. Essai sur l’ontologie biranienne (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1965) [ET Philosophy and Phenomenology of the Body, trans. Girard Etzkorn (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1975)], two years after L’Essence de la manifestation, 2 vols. (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 1963) [ET The Essence of Manifestation, trans. Girard Etzkorn (The Hague: Nijhoff, 1973)].

2. (Paris: Editions du Seuil, 2002).

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