How to Do Comparative Theology

By Francis X. Clooney; Klaus Von Stosch | Go to book overview

11 Sagi Nahor—Enough Light:
DIALECTIC TENSION BETWEEN
LUMINESCENT RESONANCE AND
BLIND ASSUMPTION IN
COMPARATIVE THEOLOGY

Shoshana Razel Gordon-Guedalia

This essay, titled, “Sagi Nahor1—Enough Light: Dialectic Tension Between Luminescent Resonance2 and Blind Assumption in Comparative Theology,” engages in comparative theological examination of two ritual-legal systems, Mīmāṃsaka and Rabbinic, which, prima facie, share “measures” of hermeneutic reasoning—tools for culling ritual law from respective Urtext, each expanding into vast commentarial corpora, each yielding distillation into terse legal codes in the medieval period. Proper comparison yields illumination, while sheer conflation blinds. Even as we study test cases, seeking to delineate each system-specific matrix with regards to ritual efficacy and agency, concerns loom: Can one suspend current sensibilities when exploring cosmologies of old—and if so, should one? Can one nimbly leap from one’s home tradition to another and return with system-specific integrity intact—and if so, towards what end?

Eleventh-century St. Anselm defines theology as “faith seeking understanding.” This call is aim and spirit to Francis X. Clooney, S.J., who explains his use of the word “theology” as,

A mode of inquiry that engages a wide range of issues with full intellec-
tual force, but ordinarily does so within the constraints of a commit
ment to a religious community, respect for its scriptures, traditions, and
practices, and a willingness to affirm the truth and values of that tradi-
tion. More deeply, and to echo more simply an ancient characterization
of theology, it is faith seeking understanding, a practice in which all
three words—the faith, the search, the intellectual goal—have their full
force and remain in fruitful tension with one another.3

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