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The Weakness of God: A Theology of the Event (Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion) Paperback – April 27, 2006

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Editorial Reviews


"... The Weakness of God is a bold attempt to reconfigure the terms of debate around the topic of divine omnipotence. Caputo has a gift for explaining Continental philosophy's jargon succinctly and accurately, and despite technical and foreign terms, this book will engage upper-level undergraduates. Includes scriptural and general indexes.... Highly recommended." ―Choice

"Caputo comes out of the closet as a theologian in this work...." ―Catherine Keller, Drew University

From the Publisher

Winner, 2007 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion, Constructive-Reflective Studies

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Product Details

  • Series: Indiana Series in the Philosophy of Religion
  • Paperback: 376 pages
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press (April 27, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0253218284
  • ISBN-13: 978-0253218285
  • Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,484 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

John D. Caputo, the Thomas J. Watson Professor of Religion Emeritus (Syracuse University) and the David R. Cook Professor of Philosophy Emeritus (Villanova University) is a hybrid philosopher/theologian who works in the area of radical theology. His most recent book, "The Insistence of God: A Theology of Perhaps," is a sequel to The Weakness of God, which develops his concept of radical theology and engages in dialogue with Malabou, Zizek and Latour. He has also just published "Truth," a part of the Penguin "Philosophy in Transit" series, aimed a general audience. His interest is centered on a poetics of the "event" harbored in the name of God, a notion that depends upon a reworking of the notions of event in Derrida and Deleuze. His past books have attempted to persuade us that hermeneutics goes all the way down ("Radical Hermeneutics"), that Derrida is a thinker to be reckoned with by theology ("The Prayers and Tears of Jacques Derrida"), and that theology is best served by getting over its love affair with power and authority and embracing what Caputo calls, following St. Paul, "The Weakness of God." His notion of the weakness of God, an expression that needs to be interpreted carefully by following what he means by "event," is reducible neither to an orthodox notion of kenosis nor to a death of God theology (Altizer, Zizek), although it bears comparison to both. He has also addressed wider-than-academic audiences in "On Religion," "Philosophy and Theology," and "What Would Jesus Deconstruct?" and has an interest in interacting with working church groups like Ikon and the Emergent Church. While at Syracuse, Professor Caputo specialized in continental philosophy of religion, which means both working on radical approaches to religion and theology in the light of contemporary phenomenology, hermeneutics and deconstruction, and tracking down the traces of radical religious and theological motifs in contemporary continental philosophy.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Etienne RP on April 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
There is a marked difference between this lengthy volume and the short essay On Religion that John Caputo published in the Thinking in Action series. The former presupposed no prior knowledge of French philosophical debates or familiarity with the rhetoric of deconstruction. It appealed to all kinds of religious creeds or political proclivities, and offered a "big tent" religion where Neo-evangelicals as well as liberal Christians could find their place, along with non-believers and agnostics. And it drew its inspiration from popular culture sources as well as sacred texts to suggest the precepts of a "religion without religion" that did not offend anyone's creed or beliefs.

The Weakness of God takes up similar themes and ideas, but is much more narrow in its focus and in its appeal. Despite its claim that the kingdom of God welcomes outsiders and even drags people off the streets to the wedding banquet, there is definitely an insider flavor in this text written with an audience of fellow philosophers and social critics in mind. Readers who are not already members of the deconstructionist club will feel like the odd guest who cannot penetrate the private jokes and allusive references exchanged at the table. Some will even take offense at the quips and paradoxes that John Caputo offers, poking fun at the "long-robed ecclesiastical apparatchiks" or stating boldly that the first to enter the kingdom of God will be "gays and lesbians, illegal immigrants, unwed mothers, the HIV-positive, drug addicts, prisoners, and, after 9/11, Arabs." Clearly the book was not written to appeal to the Christian right.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Shannon Thomas on October 1, 2008
Format: Paperback
Philosophically superb, theologically sublime, and politically subversive; an irresistable examination of the destabilizing impact and revolutionary event contained in the kingdom of God: the reign of those least likely to rule, according to rules entirely unsuited for the rulers of this world; a holy anarchy and sacred subversiveness rooted in unruly banquets and frivolous economics provoked by lillies in the field: powerless, forceless, weak and unassuming...unable to demand anything, yet still entirely irresistable, irrepressable, and uncondtional; a truly brilliant attempt to answer Augustine's ancient question: What do I love when I say I that love God?; a crying hermeneutics that explores the meaning of our tears and what it means to cry to God, at God, about God, without God; a prayer for the good of theology, trying to find the best of theology in how well it prays; do not be deterred by Levinas, Heidegger, Badiou, Zizek or Derrida...this is a learned dialogue with St. Paul...a lover's quarrel between Kierkegaard and Nietzsche...a heartfelt plea and tearfilled prayer...a wreckless dive into tehomic depths...hoping without hope to find the power of love in the God of the weak. Little in the field of philosophy of religion compares to this book: theologians and philosophers may disagree, but they have yet to say it as well as Caputo does. Will read it again and again and again.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stant Litore on November 24, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Reading John D. Caputo's The Weakness of God. Wow, what a beautiful work of philosophy and theology and ethics. And about time. Jacques Derrida invited both the philosophers and the theologians to a grand party at the end of the universe, and almost no one has shown up for the party -- I think people mostly dismiss Derrida, feel threatened by what they think he wrote, and completely miss the whole point of his project. Anyway, Caputo showed up for the party.

He brought wine, too.

Very worth a read.

P.S. To the reviewer John Brooks:
1. No. Philosophers don't need to "prove" a thesis. That isn't their job. That's what we have mathematicians and, loosely speaking, scientists for.
2. Respectfully, you might find the evidence you're looking for if you read beyond the introduction.
3. Caputo never states that strong theology is wrong. He just calls us to account for getting so seduced by strong theology that we've missed/haven't considered the tantalizing call of a weak theology. He doesn't say that God doesn't exist; he says that the question of whether God exists is irrelevant to weak theology, which is not about whether God is, but what God calls us for. For that reason, he defines the name of God not as the name of a Being but as a call for our response. It's a beautiful book, and if you realized that he hasn't dismissed your beliefs at all -- they just aren't relevant to what he's trying to share with you -- you might be less inclined to dismiss him out of hand based on his introduction, and hear him out.
4. The words/reality issue as you have laid it out isn't actually what differance means.
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29 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Denise J. Mcpherson on January 17, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a beautifully written book. In light of the current global situation, this book will be welcome to some. Yet Caputo's project has severe limitations. In terms of substance, 'theology of the event' amounts to deconstruction adorned with alot of god talk. Caputo, let alone Derrida, provides no way of talking about 'sin', that rather unpopular word that implicates us all in the problem of violence. Waxing poetic about the world and the powerless can amount to bad faith when one rejects a framework for thinking agency, and especially if one doesn't emphasize the contingency of violence. Given Derrida's Nietzschean insistence on the neccesity of violence, taken with Caputo's uncritical fidelity to Derrida, it is clear that Caputo creates unsolvable problems for his position, especially if it claims to be Christian.

If you are interested in philosophy/theology of weakness, I would recommend Benjamin & Adorno, or Metz and Moltmann, over Caputo.
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