I came across this from Mark Twain today: “History does not repeat itself but it does rhyme.” Read more

I finally got my mitts on Richard Muller’s article on the Christology of Jacob Arminius (published in the Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiendenis , 1988). Here is a summary of some of the salient points. In the years leading up to Dordt, Arminius debated the Reformed theologians on both predestination and christology, and in various documents of the period it is apparent that “the christological debate appears as a topic equal in importance to the predestinarian debate, both in Arminius’ estimation… Read more

I finally got my mitts on Richard Muller’s article on the Christology of Jacob Arminius (published in the Nederlands Archief voor Kerkgeschiendenis , 1988). Here is a summary of some of the salient points. In the years leading up to Dordt, Arminius debated the Reformed theologians on both predestination and christology, and in various documents of the period it is apparent that “the christological debate appears as a topic equal in importance to the predestinarian debate, both in Arminius’ estimation… Read more

Early in his book, Sound and Symbol: Music and the External World , Victor Zuckerkandl is contrasting the phenomenology of sight and sound, and says this about the Greek emphasis on the visual: “It seems more than mere change that it was among a people so deeply anchored in the visible as a classic Greeks that the idea should be conceived of a supreme being which, in absolute immobility, intangibility, and uniformity, represented the direct opposite of everything living. The… Read more

In his brief story, “Ragnarok,” Borges tells a dream of an election taking place in the School of Philosophy and Letters that was interrupted by the coming of the gods. His description of the gods is wonderful: “A voice shouted ‘Here they come!’ and then ‘The Gods! The Gods!’ Four or five individuals emerged from the mob and occupied the platform of the main lecture hall. We all applauded, tearfully; theses were the Gods returning after a centuries-long exile. Made… Read more

James Smith’s conclusions regarding Derrida express more clearly than I’ve been able to do my own sense of Derrida. These are scattered quotations from The Fall of Interpretation , pp. 127-129: “Derrida is honest about not challenging for a moment Rousseau’s and Levi-Strauss’s reading of violence; his own analysis is only a ‘radicalization’ of their thesis . . . . But as I have attempted to argue above, intersubjectivity is violent only if one maintains something of a latent Cartesian… Read more

James K. A. Smith has a neat scheme for summarizing different view of interpretation in terms of the categories of creation and fall. For some thinkers, interpretation and the possibility of misinterpretation are results of the Fall; for others, interpretation and misinterpretation is inherent in created life, though there is a difference between those who see this as structurally good (Christian) or inherently violent (gnostic). Here’s a version of the chart he provides on p 23: Present Immediacy: Hermeneutics is… Read more

Another benefit of Derrida: Because he puts philosophical issues in mythological and metaphorical terms, he moves philosophy into the field of theology. As I’ve pointed out in a number of posts, Derrida (following Plato) speaks of the relationship between speaker and speech (or sometimes between speech and writing) as a father-son relation. When he does that, he’s already playing in the fields of Trinitarian theology (including theology of language), and he’s conceded a basic battle. This, as I recall, is… Read more

JP Vernant points out the connection between writing and democratization: “In the kingdoms of the New East, writing was a privilege and specialty of scribes. Writing enabled the royal administration to control the economic and social life of the State by keeping records of it. Its purpose was to constitute archives which were always kept more or less secret inside the palace.” In Greece, on the other hand, “instead of being the exclusive privilege of one caste, the secret belonging… Read more

Well, here’s an interesting coincidence (pointed to by Derrida, still in “Plato’s Pharmacy”): Derrida is discussing the ritual of the pharmakos , which he is connecting to Plato’s various uses of pharmak – words in discussions of knowledge, language, and other issues. The pharmakos rite was a scapegoat ritual, annually repeated in Athens into the time of Plato, in which victims were sacrificed and sometimes burned outside the city walls in order to purify the city. Derrida talks about this… Read more

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