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Textual Linguistic Theology in Paul Ricœur


Xavier Lakshmanan

In this work, Xavier Lakshmanan argues for a textual linguistic approach to Christian theology. The book takes its shape in conversation with Paul Ricœur’s philosophical thought, demonstrating how Ricœur’s hermeneutic philosophy can inform the way Christians interpret and appropriate biblical narratives without delimiting the potential of the text or eroding the distinctiveness of its language. The text can be appropriated in ways that address the fundamental questions of life. New meanings are constantly generated from the same text in order to describe and redescribe existence, and form human identity. The self is linked inseparably with narrative; every interpretation of narrative is at the same time a reinterpretation of the self and of its possibilities. In such interpretative processes, the reader interprets the text and the text interprets the reader at the same time through an interactive reading. Accordingly, the aim of interpreting the narratives is to open up the world of the text in front of the text and in front of the reader. Here what the text uncovers is the «textual» structure of existence itself. The reality that unfolds through language discloses the possibilities of existence, and in this way the text creates a future. A revised identity emerges against the horizon of that future to give a coherent and dynamic account of the self against a horizon of hope.
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5. The Reality of Life: Temporality


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Reality is linguistic. The language of reality is metaphor. Metaphor re-describes human life. This chapter explores how Ricoeur’s idea of the real redescribes human life. By inquiring into his concepts of creative imagination and narrative hope, I shall demonstrate how the real redescribes existence and opens fresh possibilities. I will demonstrate the extent and the limit of this newly possible life, along with its importance for self-understanding here and now. One understands oneself as one understands the total possibility of being. The discovery of human life in this way is a constant pursuit of possibility through self-knowledge.

Hope: The Basis of Temporality

Ricoeur is a postmodern “philosopher of hope.”1 The notion of hope is the key to his whole anthropological enterprise. The force that stimulates his entire reflective thought is the “passion for the possible,”2 which in essence is hope filled with promises for human life. He conceives this passion as an intense human drive for the “existential possibilities of man’s being.”3 He labels these possibilities as the “fundamental possibilities” and “structures” of human beings.4 Ricoeur’s concept of hope consists of a “passion” that motivates humans to strive for a possible life; it consists of an “energy,” which is the creative imagination that figures out a new existential structure as a human possibility; and it involves a component of “time,” that connects the imaginative world into an existentially possible world. This ← 101 | 102 → implies that all passionate humans can be...

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