Singular universal !
After the elegant special issue 2011-2 : Lire le Monde au Moyen Âge, symbole et corporéité (please refer to the index under previous issues), the RSPT has returned to its ordinary cover for its third issue that is, however, far from ordinary.
The history of exegesis is the common thread tying the first two articles, yet they deal with different religious spheres and time periods : Dan Arbib outlines with precision the evolution of the rabbinic attitude toward the translation of the Hebraic Bible (“Exegesis and Translation in Rabbinic Judaism”), whereas Gilbert Dahan, in homage to Father Bataillon, o.p. († 2009) explores with his unparalleled expertise the complex dynamics between “Exegesis and Predication in the Middle Ages”.
The material then engages with a problem that today fuels an abundance of research and discussions : Singular – plural – universal. The novelty here lies in the journal’s pioneering pursuit of its vocation to bring together and into dialogue contributions of a philosophical nature and those of a theological nature. Françoise Dastur, in an inaugural and masterful article : “The Universal and the Singular”, shows in what way the great thinkers on the subject of existence, Kierkegaard and later Heidegger, knew not to oppose but to relate the notion of universality to the notion of singularity. In this light, she reexamines the emergence of the universal, not only within Greek thought but also, more unexpectedly, within Jewish monotheism and Mazdeism. Pascal Marin, on the basis of a lapidary question : “Can a Life Narrative be True ? Towards a Critique of Testimony” investigates how the relationship between the singular and the universal is articulated in the testimony, which he distinguishes phenomenologically from the simple life narrative. Bernard Quelquejeu offers an astute analysis of moral philosophy and politics (“Upon what Universality are Human Rights Founded ?”) as he answers the frequent and varied arguments that challenge the universality that Human Rights lay claim to – avoiding the pitfalls of the usual responses whose conceptual shortcomings he criticises –, and rigourously examines the logical-grammatical status of the very singular universal invoked and implemented through Human Rights. Maxime Allard’s article “The Singularisation of an Ethical Existence According to Thomas Aquinas”, leads us into an analysis of a theological corpus, the Secunda Pars of the Summa Theologiae, namely its prologues and questions devoted to the beatitude, passions, virtues, vices, laws, offices, states of life and entry into religion, using modern philosophical tools (borrowed from J. L. Nancy) that enable an understanding of these texts that differs thoroughly from the usual “humanist” and “personnalist” understandings that the author here challenges. Finally, Emmanuel Durand tackles the question from within his own line of research in dogmatic theology, but sets it in subtle and constant dialogue with philosophers of our own time period (A. Badiou, P. Magnard, R. Esposito, F. Jullien). Through a reading of Pauline theology on the ecclesial Corpus Christi, his concluding article, “The Reconciliation of Hostile Identities Through the Universality of Filial Grace” insightfully develops a fertile dialectic between the universality of the filial condition and the assumption of particular identities.
The issue culminates with two bulletins : the first on the history of esoterisms by Jérôme Rousse-Lacordaire, keenly anticipated, appreciated and recognized by specialists of the field and a bulletin on dogmatic theology by Emmanuel Durand, the second installment of one of the journal’s original traditions, thus reviving and carrying forward its foundational mission.
Beyond these articles and bulletins, you may at leisure and length peruse the journal reviews and bibliographical notes before reaching the end of this 240 page issue. Pleasant reading journey !