Thursday, 5 February 2015

Margaret Guise: Saving the Name(s): The 'Golden and Saving Chair' and its (De)construction - a soteriological conversation between Jacques Derrida, Jean-Luc Marion and the Cappadocian Fathers

This short communication considers whether the links between the divinity of the Spirit and soteriology (the Nazianzen's ‘golden and saving chain'), as explored and endorsed by the Cappadocian Fathers and their theological allies, should be regarded as ‘deconstructed' by deconstruction itself.  Does the concept of the golden and saving chain retain any relevance or potency when placed in rapprochement with the ‘new Enlightenment' posited by, for example, Jacques Derrida, which looks towards a ‘delimiting' of dogmatism, authoritarianism and religions of the book, and offers instead a structure of hospitality and of a ‘messianic' faith in a justice to come? 
I will be suggesting that this is, indeed, the case, and will begin by revisiting the debate which took place between Derrida and Marion during the ‘Religion and Postmodernism' conference at Villanova University in September 1997, since one of the notable features of their discussion was the extent to which both protagonists cited the work of the Cappadocians.  I shall be focusing especially on the dialogue between Derrida and Marion on ‘Saving the Name', with a view to establishing whether their readings of the Cappadocians shed light on, or obfuscate, the latters' soteriologies. 
I shall conclude with a critical appraisal of the extent to which the Cappadocians' image of the golden and saving chain should be understood as irrevocably ‘deconstructed' by Derrida and Marion or whether, on the contrary, it might be construed as offering hospitality to, or even to some degree be the saving of, postmodern understandings of salvation.

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