Sacred text as saturated phenomenon: The unspoken command of scripture

Ian C Rottenberg, Fordham University


My dissertation seeks to bolster theories of divine discourse, specifically those which claim that is it possible for a transcendent God not only to reveal but also to speak. My work brings Jean Luc Marion's analyses of saturated phenomena to bear on the more specific claim that God speaks through scripture. I begin with a critical analysis of Nicholas Wolterstorff's distinction between God's speaking and God's revealing, noting several ways in which his account is incomplete. Looking to the Continental tradition to help remedy this theory of divine speech acts, I make explicit the connections between Marion's phenomenology and Kant's notion of the aesthetic idea and argue that Marion's analyses can and should be broadened to include textual phenomena such as poetry. Once so broadened, I show that Marion's phenomenology can help us to understand ways in which it could be possible for religious believers to experience discourse-generating speech acts of God through the reading of scripture. I consider some important similarities between poetry and Judeo-Christian scripture and claim that a complete account of God speaking through such sacred texts must consider the intuitive saturation of the phenomenon and the fact that such saturation is experienced as a particular type of address. My dissertation concludes with a consideration of the ways in which an experience of this type of saturated phenomenon must impact a believer's interpretation of the determinate content of the promises and commands contained within the sacred text. Experiences of such phenomena are experiences of an imperative that precludes certain interpretive stances toward and certain interpretations of the text.

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Recommended Citation

Rottenberg, Ian C, "Sacred text as saturated phenomenon: The unspoken command of scripture" (2012). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3544407.