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God Without Being: Hors-Texte (Religion and Postmodernism Series) 0002- Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0226505411
ISBN-10: 0226505413
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Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Jean-Luc Marion, member of the Académie française, is emeritus professor of philosophy at the Université Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV). He is the Andrew Thomas Greeley and Grace McNichols Greeley Professor of Catholic Studies, professor of the philosophy of religions and theology, and professor in the Committee on Social Thought and the Department of Philosophy at the University of Chicago. He also holds the Dominique Dubarle chair at the Institut Catholique of Paris. He is the author of many books, including The Erotic Phenomenon and God without Being, both also published by the University of Chicago Press. 
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Product Details

  • Series: Religion and Postmodernism Series
  • Paperback: 284 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; 0002- edition (June 15, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226505413
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226505411
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.2 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #794,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Let me admit first off that Marion's "God Without Being" is a difficult read; I admit this despite the fact that, when I first read it, my brain was well steeped in the work of Derrida, Heidegger, Levinas, and many others into and out of whose discourses Marion constructs his own argument. There are large chunks of the essay that still puzzle me, but the clarity of the ultimate movements will not be lost on the attentive reader. Theology is wasting its time, Marion claims, when it appears primarily as apologist for an existing God, for the most important thing about God is not first that God lives, but that God gives.
Beginning with an interrogation of what he will later term "the ontological impediment" (this very pre-occupation with systematizing or explaining God's being or God-as-Being), Marion contests that this very focus on ex-planation (with its aggressively outbound prefix) prevents one from being capable of acting as receiver (with all its quietly centripetal connotations) and thus betrays one of the most basic theological aims: speaking of "the gift that Christ makes of his body," Marion reminds us that "a gift, and this one above all, does not require first that one explain it, but indeed that one receive it" (162).
The book's back cover refers to this move as one that resituates God in the realm of agape, or Christian charity, rather than in the realm of Being. Marion does indeed speak of agape, but I think that the tidy and perhaps overly theoretical ring of the word would give way, if he had his preference, to the plain, everyday notion of "giving" to which he turns at the most powerful moments of "God Without Being.
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This review starts out with a bit of perplexity: there are two works in this book, 1) God Without Being, and 2) Hors-Texte. "Hors-Texte" translates, literally, as " 'outside the text,' the unpaginated plates added to the end of a book." My question here is, what is the relationship between these two works? My guess is that they are to be read together: Hors-Texte gives a place for the embodiment of (the) God Without Being. This embodiment takes place ("place" being here an intentionally spatial reference) in liturgy and the eucharist: God gives God's self outside of, after and beyond the text. This book functions as a work of theology (Marion is Roman Catholic) but can also function as a work in the philosophy of religion: religion is not something textual, so much as it is embodied in real time and real space.
Marion, however, is not a theologian or philosopher of religion who seeks to arrive at a conception of God (or, for that matter, religion) that justifies a particular philosophy. Hence, he breaks fully with Enlightenment rationalists who seek a God that does little more than justify their own ideas of autonomy: for Marion, God is not the unmoved mover who must be before he loves. Rather, God loves before being: it is God's love which gives place to the Being of beings.
This understanding of God as agape is a break, however, not only with so-called rationalists, but with scholasticism and late modern/post-modern thinkers such as Nietzsche and Heidegger. Marion works off of both Nietzsche and Heidegger but also criticizes them for not giving a place to a God who loves before being.
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In God without Being, French Theologian Jean-Luc Marion offers a controversial thesis about how to think God with categories, including the category of Being. Beginning with an important and enlightening distinction between the idol and the icon, Marion goes on to argue that most "conceptual" understandings of God (i.e., causa sui, prima causa, moral god, etc.) actually constitute idolatries, because they essentially limit the divine to the scope of the human gaze. This is, in Marion's view, the quintessential manufacture of God in the image of humans.

In following chapters, Marion attempts to develop an account of God's self-revelation that would allow us to avoid the traps of conceptual idolatry and think "God without being." For this project, Marion settles on the notion of "giveness" (French: "donation"). In Marion's view, we can think of a God free of all categories (including the category of being) only if we think of God as pure gift--a gift given without any horizon except the gift itself (phenomenologists take note). To flesh out this concept of giveness (i.e., the God who trangresses Being), Marion introduces the notion of love--an idea which, in his view, is still conceptually free enough to allow us to think God without inevitably falling into idolatry. Thus, with the God who "gives" himself as "agape," Marion believes he has found a way of thinking of God without recourse to the category of being--and more importantly, without the erection of a conceptual idol.

This text is profound in every sense of the word and merits numerous rereadings. In fact, anyone who wants to be conversant with "cutting-edge" Christian theology at the beginning of the 21st century will need to know this book well.
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