- Series: Religion and Postmodernism
- 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: 9 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,023,240 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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God Without Being: Hors-Texte (Religion and Postmodernism) 0002- Edition
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Marion rightly notes that philosophical talk about God is often idolatrous. Metaphysics created God after its own image. This leads into Marion's discussion of the "idol and the icon." (The next 150 pages are remarkably dense.) Marion starts off well but it is hard to see how he doesn't beg the question and also what he is actually trying to say. I like his discussion on "the icon." At surface level it is a good meditation on Christian aesthetics. But one gets the impression that Marion is not using "icon" in the sense that the Orthodox use it (though at times he is). Marion says the idol's gaze is wrong because it freezes on the watcher, but the icon is actually looking at him who is looking at me. The icon's gaze pierces reality. Okay, I agree but how is this statement not begging the question? Marion never made it clear how the icon's gaze doesn't deconstruct back to the idol's gaze.
Marion later moves into a moving discussion on Christian hermeneutics. More so than most theologians, Marion is keen to the challenges that Derrida and Nietzsche pose to Christianity--and to the opportunities available. The problem is the "gap" between text and reality. One can read of the Easter "event," but one is only reading of it. One is still removed from the event. A Christ-hermeneutics, however, bridges the gap between text and reality in the Eucharist (150). A fascinating discussion with much passion and promise, but one wishes that Marion would have spent more time on this.
This book started off well with references to Gilson's work on "Being" as well as other moves in Thomism. And the thesis is sound and simple enough. But even those readers who are well-read in philosophy will wonder what Marion is trying to say. This book could have easily been 80 pages long and the reader would not be at a loss. Marion spent too little time on the clear parts and too much time on the dense parts (without making them clearer). Still, there are many good meditations and it is worth re-reading parts of the book.
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.
That said, Marion's language is often dense and, quite frankly, obscure. The sentences are long and jargon-filled, and the precise structure of his arguments is not always clear. In any case, however, God Without Being merits the attention it has received. A close, reflective reading will not go unrewarded.