The Phenomenology of Revelation in Heidegger, Marion, and Ricoeur provides a critical framework for understanding the phenomenology of revelation through a series of close readings that serve as the basis for an imagined dialogue between Martin Heidegger, Jean-Luc Marion, and Paul Ricoeur. Adam J. Graves distinguishes between two dominant approaches to revelation: a “radical” approach that seeks to disclose a pre-linguistic experience of revelation through a radicalization of the phenomenological reduction, and a “hermeneutical” one that characterizes revelation as an eruption of meaning arising from our encounter with concrete symbols, narratives, and texts. According to Graves, the radical approach is often driven by a misplaced concern for maintaining philosophical rigor and for avoiding theological biases, or “contaminations.” This preoccupation leads to a process of “counter-contamination” in which the concept of revelation is ultimately estranged from the phenomenon’s rich historical and linguistic content. While Ricoeur’s hermeneutic phenomenology may do a better job of accommodating the concrete content of revelation, it does so at the price of having to renouncing the kind of “presuppositionlessness” generally associated with phenomenological method. Ultimately, Graves argues that a more nuanced appreciation of the complex nature of our linguistic inheritance enables us to reconceive the relationship between revelation and philosophical thought.
Adam J. Graves is professor of philosophy at Metropolitan State University of Denver.
List of Abbreviations
Introduction. A Battle Cry: Reason, Revelation and the ‘Theological Turn’
Chapter 1. Retracing the Turn: Revelation and the Two Faces of Phenomenology
Chapter 2. Phenomenology, Theology and Counter-Contamination in Early Heidegger
Chapter 3. Marion’s Radical Revelation: Givenness and the Anonymous Call
Chapter 4. Ricoeur’s Hermeneutic Phenomenology of Revelation: The World Reconfigured
Conclusion. Language, Reception, Contingency
Epilogue. In the Beginning Was the Word
"A groundbreaking work. In this highly compelling and provocative book, Adam Graves accomplishes what no serious thinker has done since Hegel; he demonstrates decisively how the problem of 'revelation' is not just a theological sideshow but an integral problem for philosophy itself in the 21st century."
“Adam Graves's new book The Phenomenology of Revelation in Heidegger, Marion and Ricoeur is a leading-edge study of the problem of revelation amid the many twisting theological turns in recent French philosophy. Revelation—the event of transcendence itself and the literary means by which this event is expressed—is the impossible possibility with which Graves’s three philosophers struggle. In this struggle, Graves offers Ricoeur’s text-based hermeneutics of revelation as a compelling counterpoint to Heidegger’s and Marion’s pre-linguistic notions of revelation as pure givenness. As Ricoeur writes, it is only 'by interpreting that we can hear again.' For Ricoeur, then, there is no pure revelation: what is primordially given can only arise within the rich intertexual milieu of a culture’s founding religious classics.
Eminently readable, bracingly philosophical, and carefully researched, Graves’s book bristles with original insights into the perennial question, how can a Word beyond words be understood within the mere words of human language? This book is a must-read for anyone interested in the problem of revelation—how to say the unsayable—within contemporary philosophy and theology.”
“Adam Graves’ book on the phenomenology of revelation is itself a stunning revelation. For the uninitiated, Graves provides an accessible orientation into the historical context and key issues at stake in debate over the 'theological turn' of French phenomenology. But this book offers even more value to those who are already familiar with these debates. Graves offers a new path forward by making the case for a hermeneutical approach to revelation that recognizes the full revelatory power of the Word.”
"Adam J. Graves’s rigorous comparison of revelation in Martin Heidegger, Jean-Luc Marion, and Paul Ricoeur cogently shows that phenomenology’s 'turn to theology' neither requires a return to primordial ontology nor calls for a retreat into the paradoxes of a prelinguistic givenness, but more simply and radically urges us to begin a long journey in the frequentation of mutually enriching symbols and narratives; only then can we grasp concretely how the Word can make the World."
“Adam Graves provides a timely revision of phenomenology by revelation and revelation by phenomenology. Contesting the old antagonism between philosophy and theology, he sketches a dialogical hermeneutics of religion in deep conversation with three of the giants of continental philosophy—Heidegger, Marion, and Ricoeur. A bold, challenging, and highly readable book.”
Graves’ book on the phenomenology of revelation is invaluable for those interested in a deeper study of the complex interrelation between philosophy and theology as found in Heidegger, Marion, and Ricoeur. Graves succeeds in situating the development of the theological turn in a wider historical context, while raising an important concern about the project of phenomenology itself.