The Meaning of Scriptures in the Thought of Emmanuel Lévinas

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This essay will deal with the status of the Scriptures in the philosophy of Emmanuel Lévinas and will explore the way in which the paradoxical nature of the Jewish relationship to the Scriptures both generates and enables the exegesis found in the Talmud.[1] Lévinas does not question the essential nature of the Scriptures, nor the way to relate to them from a religious standpoint. His choice is rather to analyze the manner in which the Talmud understands the holiness of the text from a theoretical and ethical perspective. Ultimately, it is this insight that renders Lévinas’ philosophical analysis of the Bible and Talmud so significant, for the very tension that arises from a straightforward reading of the text, on the one hand, and the Sages’ reading on the other creates Jewish tradition as we know it. However, Lévinas’ approach provides an additional layer to this analysis in that it determines the field of play in which biblical exegesis takes place—that is, the field of ethics—and thus establishes the ethical norm as the most important parameter for interpretation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-13
JournalJournal of Scriptural Reasoning
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Issue topic: Philosophy and theology


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