Prof.dr. R.H. Reeling Brouwer

Bijzonder Hoogleraar; Universitair Hoofddocent
Amsterdam, Groningen
Onderwijs, ST Beliefs

(THIS ONE IS) ONE AND UNIQUE

On the Task of Respecting the Singularity of the Name 

Mister Rector,

Members of the Curatorium and of the Administration of the Miskotte/Breukelman Foundation,

Most Respected Colleagues and Auditors,

On October 26, 1945, K. H. Miskotte presented his inaugural address on the acceptance of his professorate by the Netherlands Reformed Church, at the State University of Leiden, under the title The Practical Sense of the Simplicity of God.   Following the  phenomenological method, as he understood it – beginning to see precise structures while deferring decisions to be made, he sketched how the late classical philosopher Plotinus sought total simplicity in an ecstasy which lies far above the snow line, below which unity and multiplicity may still be distinguished.  Subsequently he described how Thomas Aquinas, with the intensive thought patterns of scholasticism, searched for the implications of a Christian concept of God which is free from all constructions, such as Spirit and Nature and all spiritual characteristics.  Finally, he discussed how in the theology of the Reformation, heightened by Karl Barth, this simplicity demonstrates a very different figure.  Arriving at this point, Miskotte brought up a term which had come along more or less stealthily in the previous parts of his presentation: “up front in the Scriptural structure is the uniqueness of God; the simplicity is as it were an added suffix.”  Hear, O Israel, Adonai our God, is Adonai ‘ehad (Deut. 6:4).  “This one is one and unique.”  Of this summons, thus Miskotte continued, it is said that it pertains both to the singularitas, the oneness (unicity), the incomparability, as well as  to the simplicitas, the simplicity of this God.  In a functional sense, the divine simplicity is a derivation of the divine unicity: of this one who is different, it must be said that he is of one piece and cannot be torn apart.   In a second movement, one may also say the reverse, namely that the singularitas Dei must be founded in his simplicitas:  HE, who in the multiplicity of his acts, always appears to be the same, will ever show himself the Unique One.

In conformity with the title of his oration, Miskotte concentrated on the notion of the simplicity of God.  One might question whether the unicity is still more typical of all of his theological commitment. Whoever looks at his sermons, is constantly pointed to this: this one is not the one whom we already knew, this one is not the God of the general concept of God.  But with him one experiences something that you had never thought, and that drives you toward unsuspected acts.  Perhaps this is the case:  Miskotte eagerly makes the distinction between kerygma and didache, on the one side, the calling of the Name which leads us away from where we were stuck to our detriment, and the other side, the instruction which unfolds and rehearses for us, concerning the question as to why that Name is then so special, and in which Names and aspects he is to be explained. An inaugural address is about the setting forth of a program for instruction.  In the background is, in 1945, during the struggle after the great years of war, the decision from the German church struggle plays out:  Das eine Wort Gottes, das wir zu hören, zu vertrauen und zu gehorchen haben.  As it is, spoken Christianly, it is almost unavoidable, Adonai ‘ehad is here explained with that one Name of the single appearance: Jesus Christ.  This decision knows various implications.  We cannot make a separation anymore between a Word outside of Christ and the Word which he is himself, between Old and New Testament, between a hidden and a revealed God, between Gospel and Law, between a love community in him and then, beside that, yet a wholly other formulation of love, based on anxiety and violence.  The question as to how this datum of the simplex cognitio, the simple and unambiguous knowledge of God, in all of its facets is to be considered, becomes the subject of further theological investigation, even if, it seems to me, that Miskotte himself hesitated somewhat taking the step from phenomenology to dogmatics.  Yet more clearly than with Miskotte this has become the main theme in the systematic work of the great Scripture scholar Frans Breukelman.  He saw in the theology of today and the past traces everywhere of a duplex cognitio, a double bookkeeping, which he fought against because he saw it as a hermeneutical blockade for a right understanding of the Scriptures.

In this oration I do not pursue this part of the heritage of both eponyms of this academic chair; I will leave the theme of the simplex cognitio. I wish to lay before you some considerations about the other term which Miskotte needed for the direction of his argument, that of the singularitas Dei.  It is a dangerous term.  The simplicity of God is charged with the highest ambivalent religio-scientific category of monotheism, so that theological interests have been gradually mixed with a metaphysical program of thought about unity and with an imperial-political program of the one realm.  But the uniqueness of God is charged with the suggestion of a highly questionable exclusivism of a religion amidst the religions.  I shall return to this.  First we call to mind, how troublesome it is to ignore this element from the church confession.  I notice that students hesitate sometimes as to whether we should still reckon with this.  Think of Deutero-Isaiah:  ”I am the One [the Lord] and there is no other, besides me there is no God” (Isa. 45:5).  After jumping across the abyss between the testaments we hear the Christ say in John: “I and the Father are one” (John 10:30): thus, both share the same singularity. Thus the Son is also called monogenes, “the only Son of God,” after the son of whom is said to Abraham: “take your son, yahid, your only son, whom you love…” (Gen. 22:2; John 1:18; 1 John 4:9).  Still a step further, the prayer:  “as you, Father, are one with me and I with you, that they may be one with us, that the world may believe” (John 17:21).  The Messianic exclusivity is also inclusive, when we may conceive “one” here as “involved in this Unity.”  And thus the Creed also confesses (of 381) that “we believe in one God…and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only Son of God…of one Being with the Father…one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church…one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.”  Does this only signify an attempt to provide the public church with an ideological foundation?  Or does it at least indicate a singularity which may not be subsumed under any other category, but rather points to the state [what is] its place? We further hear the Gloria sung to him who is seated at the right hand of the Father: “You only are holy. you only are the Lord, you are the highest.”  Luther sings: “Fragst du, wer der ist / er heisst Jesus Christ / der Herr Zebaoth / und ist kein andrer Gott.”  De Brès formulates according to Medieval example: “(we believe with the heart and confess with the mouth) one unique (unicam) and simple (simplicem) essentiam spiritualem”-- that “spiritual being” omitted for the time being.  The Catechism teaches “our only comfort, both in life and death.”  The vow/pledge at the confirmation of a Servant of the Word reads: “Do you accept the Scriptures as source of preaching and the only rule of faith?”  The Scriptures also, read as regula fidei, thus has to do with the singularitas Dei.  I shall return to the implications of this datum also.

The Category of Singularity

Let us first more closely consider the concept of singularity. It is remarkable that both the term as well as the object to which this term points has played only a limited role for centuries in theological and systematic reflection.  This is surely related to the dominant philosophical traditions, in which the everyday meaning was really unsuitable for strictly regulated thought.  That related to the significance of the unique as the extraordinary, the exceptional, which falls outside of the rule.  But as far as the “unique” refers to the “single” or “simple,” there was already a term for that: the individual as indivisible entity.  And as far as the term indicates the one in the midst of the many, there existed another concept: the particular.  With a single exception, singularitas was therefore for a long time exchangeable with one of the other, more accepted terms. That was precisely the case in theology.  When Peter Lombard for example wished to clarify in his Sentences, that the divine Trinity is not composed of three separate individuals, he is impelled to declare that within the Trinity there exists neither diversitas nor singularitas, but that the confessing of the Triune God as such is about one and unique.  This declaration fits well with what we have noted already, namely, that he Son, the One, is not a second singularitas beside the Father, but is the same singularitas again.  The same is valid for the Spirit, who makes his people to be one with him by faith.  What strikes us at this point of our argument is that the concept is only needed with a similar closer stipulation, after which it may be left alone for many pages.

Something else also plays along.  Medieval scholasticism identifies God with Being, the most common category.  And exactly at this point it becomes difficult to think of him as the most exceptional.

How much the approach has moved here, may be seen well in the description of God as actus purus, pure act.  With his Christian rereading of Aristotle, it is important for Thomas Aquinas to clarify that there is no potency in God, that he does not need to become what he is, but that in him already has been given for all of eternity, fulfillment of all potency.  That produces a high, but at the same time a rather rarified, if not pale category, which is needed for our thinking, but for the telling of the story about God is hardly usable.  Karl Barth, in his way, recognizes something in the term and adopts it.  According to him, actus purus means that God is God in his acts and that he is not the sum of possibilities which have yet to become reality.  God is a reality, a real act which opens up a multiplicity of possibilities.  To prevent all misunderstanding of rareness and paleness, he adds to this, with a -- as I suspect to a scholasticus magister unacceptable mixture of categories: actus purus, indeed – et singularus. The pure act is this highest particular act.

For this shift of feeling within theology, we may observe a parallel in contemporary philosophy.  It is remarkable how often the category of singularity comes under discussion here, sometimes connected to, but often also distinguished from the categories of individuality and particularity.  This may, I believe, give theology something to think about.  Note well:  it is not the case that theology needs to follow the latest philosophical development per se, let alone that it would have to find a new occasion to found [ground] its own exposition.  But precisely a theology, which may keep guard with the particular, “what the heart of man has not conceived” (1 Cor. 2:9), will be open to the most unexpected voices for echo’s of the divine Word.

The Parallax View is a theoretical main work of the philosopher who is productive in many areas, a psychoanalyst and ironic-Leninist, Slavoj Zizek.  A Parallaxis is an apparent replacement of the object, caused by a change in the position of the observer.

The well-known dualities in the philosophical tradition, like Spirit and Matter, infrastructure and superstructure or (why not?) divinity and humanity in Christ, according to Zizek, we need to view together while they are not translatable into one another and lack a common ground.  The always needing to look differently, and the reversal of categories, is therefore built into philosophy, and with the reduction to one perspective, produces a short circuit.  What I need from this philosophical project for my presentation is the  division in threes with which Zizek operates.  As we might guess, Hegel is presupposed with this, yet Zizek does it differently again from Hegel.  He distinguishes: universality, particularity and singularity.  The implication is that the relationship of the particular to the universal differs from that of the singular to the universal.  A pars, a part, is always pars of a totum, a whole.  The whole is only to be understood from the parts, and the parts form indispensable building stones for the whole.  Zizek reminds us, that this is the principle of all science, while the singularium does not concern science.  The relationship of the singular to the universal differs from that of the particular: the unique is not a part of the general but breaks into it, it appears just like that and cannot be explained by any rule.  As an example Zizek mentions – oh, those Marxists! – Christ, the most miserable, most singular outcast of whom it is said: See THE man” (John 19:5).

It gives me, as a theologian, who owes decisive insights both to Miskotte and to Breukelman, to think how Zizek distinguishes between particularity and singularity.  With my teachers, who are the teachers of many, the figure of the pars pro toto plays a crucial role.  Repeatedly we meet with them, that this particular refers to all and that this particular represents the general.  Miskotte spoke of it in his inaugural address, in connection with the simplicity of God as representing of all divine virtues.  Of Breukelman we remember phrases like: “the radical biblical particularism is the power and the secret of radical biblical universalism, the history of God with Israel is particula pro toto the history of God with us all.”  At the same time this figure summons questions.  Not without reason the first possible doctoral student, who reported to the academic chair, to me with the information that he wants to study carefully how this figure of the representation really may be considered.  I assume that I am not ahead of him if I already furnish a small contribution to this topic this afternoon.  This contribution will consist of the positing of the distinction between particularity and singularity and the offering of a few suggestions for the moment to which this concept is applicable in theology.  With this I hope to indicate at the same time how I conceive the commission entrusted to me, namely a commission to ask further from that what we have received from our masters, to ask further questiones.  I plan to explore in the time which this hour has made available to me the quaestio at hand in three fields.  These fields form, as it were, concentric circles around the Adonai ‘ehad: first the field of the one Scripture as witness of “this one Name, which is given under heaven among men by which we must to be set free” (Acts 4:12), then the field of the one, called together by the Voice in the Scriptures, people of God as witness to the one Name, and finally the field of the working of the witness among the nations under heaven on the earth.  I hope that you will thus receive an impression of what you can expect of the work of this academic chair.  That is to say: this particular academic chair and there is our quaestio again: is he now special in the sense of  particular or in the sense of singular?  Well, certainly particular, for he is from a particular foundation, a movement, a pars of the church with the indication of a limited scholarly discipline offered to academia as a whole.  But at the same time I see it as my task to function as a tangible figure, questioning the entire common theological undertaking, tossed to and fro as it is between the following of the vague generalities of the most recent fashion here, and the flight toward the trusted jargon of its own group there.  Do you realize, do we always fully realize, that of what you exist by grace as theologian, consists of the completely singular, the incomparable is of that call, to which Israel has to listen: Adonai ‘ehad?  Do we acknowledge and honor this highest specific, this singularity, do we accord it in all of our labor the weight which it merits, the respect to which it is entitled?  There you recognize the subtitle of my presentation: “On the Task of Respecting the Singularity of the Name.”

The Contact with the Particular and the Singular in the Witness of the Scriptures

As “students of the holy Scriptures,” as Calvin calls us, we adhere to a faithful as well as a scientifically responsible interpretation of the Biblical Scriptures. (1) A scientific interest is served when Breukelman opposed the fragmenting of the text whereby all sorts of sometimes minuscule segments of the text are brought back to different supposed historical situations behind the text, so that a pars may not be at all pars of a totum.  Then one does not take seriously what is said here, and prevents a text from saying what it has to say.  Using the book of Genesis Breukelman has shown that it is indeed possible to relate the parts to the whole, and to illumine the whole from the parts.  (2) This is about separate biblical books, but there are also many references of the books to one another.  The great scholar J. L. Palache, whose robe I am allowed to wear from now on, still knew the Hebrew Bible by heart.  This is how the connections and the association are shown of their own accord.  I say it to my own shame, but we need other aids for that.  Yet we do not need to exclude ourselves from any understanding of coherence.  If we learn to hear the distinctive voices in the Scriptures and hear them speaking together, we know ourselves enriched when we may modestly join this chorus.  Thus it is not true at all, that in these Scriptures as it were only raw and rough material is to be found of which we then must make theology.  How arrogant that would be vis-a-vis the biblical authors and redactors!  They have written in their manner very reflectively what they have written, and we rejoice when we suspect that we proceed to penetrate something of their considerations!  (3) The datum, the gift of a canon that was handed down, which places these writings in a certain order, is helpful with this.  “We receive these writings as a rule of faith,” says the Dutch Confession of Faith art. 5 very aptly.  It appears illuminating when we realize which book finds itself in which part of the canon, how and why the one reacts to the another.  And thus we often discover gradually that different types of writings are meaningfully put in order together.  That also may have been reflected upon.  Why could no compositional starting points be behind them, why should we not reckon with that possibility?  Certainly, in post-modern times it is customary to compose our own canon and keep changing our preferred canon.  That is how that works, and that is good as well.  But what puts this canon in its own class is that we do not choose it.  It precedes us, embraces us and brings us repeatedly new surprises.  To remain stubbornly faithful and persevere against the spirit of the age in the lesen and lernen from the ever the same, but also new Scriptures -- that is rewarding!  (4) And finally connections are handed us by what Miskotte calls the root/key words.  They contribute, perhaps consciously, literary unity between such divergent writings.  They create a “world of words,” in which we may live, as in all grand creations.  What was significant for Miskotte, is that they furnish a hermeneutical estrangement as opposed to the language in which we normally move, so that we begin to listen and realize we are hearing something different here.  Here also, a fierce scientific debate is taking place: is this historically and linguistically correct?  Does the Hebrew Bible know something like its own, recognizable language where various authors of the apostolic writing are joining in their own manner?  That needs to be studied.  Only, if one does not wish to see the biblical language as pars of an entirely own totum, let him take care that he does not secretly put as the foundation of his exegesis, a very different totum, for example that of his own life and world view!

Thus far the speaking about particularity and totality of the biblical writings makes good sense.  But there is also a boundary which we need to look at.  (1) Thus we may ask the question: what kind of totum is it to which the partes point?  Are we ever able to present the whole of the Scriptures as a reference to the totum of the Name as such?  And should we want that?  What would it be, a total view of the Bible?  A metanarrative?  A coordinating teaching?  Such a concept denies the liturgical manner with which the congregation deals with the Scriptures, in the Sunday service, the seasons and the daily reading.  These ever deal with manna, a portion of which suffices for a day (Ex. 16:4).  It also denies what is doctrine.  That is namely not a coordinating system, but a rule for reading.  (2) At this point the distinction between particularity and singularity may serve.  A loose piece of manna is not a part, broken off a large loaf, but stands by itself and knows its own relationship to the Adonai ‘ehad.  Miskotte preached therefore, by an old habit, often about a single verse and from that verse about the uniqueness of the God of Israel.  This is comparable to when Breukelman presented us with an imaginary conversation between the evangelists Matthew and Luke: they cannot to be caught in a single program.  While alius non alia, sed eadem aliter dicit – the one does not say different things than the other, but says the same things differently – they witness together beside one another. 

(3)  Thus [it] is avoided that the canonical framework is not posited as too forceful.  It contains something experimental, which I always thought when Breukelman preferred to speak of the Tenakh.  It helps to distinguish between Moses and the prophets.  But if the maintaining of a given canon is demanded only because of the tradition, that tradition can stand in the way of new discoveries.  I am Reformed enough that I suspect that in each part of the given canon findings lie ready for us, but I also see that a “canonical approach” may lead to pure acceptance of a confessional and also ethical element.  Then it is salutary to reckon that the data may be broken open in a Messianic manner.  (4) Finally the reflection on the singularitas Dei diminishes the risk that we will conceive the language of the Bible in itself totally singular --  as if we only by spelling the key/root words, we should be close to the one and unique Name.  The commandment of this One, not to pray to another beside him, we would precisely then violate. Moreover, we would by closing by the witness concerning him in one language game, hinder beforehand that the Same who speaks to us in the Scriptures, could also make himself known in the echo of very different voices.  Our faith, thank God, is not concerned with the words of the word systems as such when we expect to perceive the Unique One in the words which we keep playing in stubborn faithfulness.  For this reason the investigation for the unity in the multiplicity of the Scripture needs a counterweight in the witness of the singularitas of the affirmed God.

 

 

A Particular and a Universal Relationship to the Singular in the One People of God

Listen then, Israel!  By this call Israel is called to its presence.  In the masoretic manuscripts the ‘ayin of Shema’ and the dalet of ‘ehad are printed large.  Together they form the word ‘ed: witness.  Those who hear these words, are thereby called as witness.

Miskotte held fast to the vision, which Barth developed during the war years, that there is one community of God which both consists of Israel, of which the synagogue forms the core, and from the ekklesia where Jew and goy come together.  For us, over-whelmingly goyim from the ekklesia, it is the Jew who reminds us bodily of the one Name and the uniqueness of God.  He carries the text on his skin, on his hand, between the eyes and has attached the text to the doorpost.  Each evening and each morning he sounds the call at the hour of prayer, on the way, as he goes to rest and as he rises.  That is how he loves Adonai, with the whole heart (the planning center), the whole soul (the life) and all of his strength (the acting).  To teach Israel from generation to generation, and to remind us and to shame us (Deut. 6:4-9).

A deeply rooted judgment or prejudice claims that Judaism chose particularism, and Christendom universalism.  Franz Rosenzweig was also of this opinion.  I say it in connection with our theme as follows: the Jew represents the singularitas Dei in a particular figure, and the Christian in a universal figure.  Well, as respects the Christian way: no additional comment is needed.  This unique was explained as universal.  But did it remain the unique of the Lord?   I touched on it already: what happens when the exclusivity of this particular God becomes the exclusivity of a religion?  Surely, of the congregation where we believe, we confess that it is unica, hidden in the unicity of this God.  But what if we declare a visible world religion as unique?  Karl Barth writes in his view of religion as theological problem: “ Indem Gott sich offenbart, verbirgt sich das göttlich Besondere einem menschlichen Allgemeinen (…)und also das göttlich Einzigartige in einem menschlich bloss Einzigartigen.”  But what is only “peculiar,” is least of all singular and is not entitled to exclusivity.  In the so-called parable of the talents (Mat. 25:13-30) there is a man who received one talent: the embodiment of the One self.  But he can do nothing with it, he buries it and regards it as his own money and possession.  But that is precisely not singularity, the possession of the one opposed to that of another.  What a misunderstanding!  Vis-à-vis Christendom as world religion with its claim of exclusivity, stands Judaism which concentrates on hearing and obeying, the study, the doing of the commandments and the learning from generation to generation.

Thus it places the Unity of Adonai before all nations.  Where according to Breukelman the biblical name of Israel stands for the pars pro toto, this one people for all peoples, it looks as if the Jew has chosen the pars and the Christian the totum.  And what next?

It appears to me that in our days neither of these options is tenable.

But Christendom which from the principle of unity makes a claim on all peoples, is finished and it will not return either like that.  But the particular way of Judaism is also undermined.  As I observe, the representation of the singular is under pressure by the particular.  This pressure is caused through both the history of emancipation in Europe to and by the great darkness in which the people almost perished, and by a totalitarian liberalism that this people characteristically does not wish to understand in the food laws and the circumcision.  Further is there the orientation on a state in the national existence, which is a state among the states, not more and not less.  But I do not speak for others, I speak for myself.  And I acknowledge the double view that the tradition of this academic chair shows.  Miskotte, as one of the first one who asked attention for Judaism as a question to the church and he felt that only the reaching back to the Torah offered resistance and clarity against the German fury.  At the same time it was unmistakable for him that the ekklesia rightly saw the Adonai ‘ehad  heightened in the Christ alone.  Thus, there was a tension and it was not different with Breukelman.  I cannot guarantee that we can move from this tension with this academic chair.  But I know well that in any case that the Christian (the Jew must say it for himself) needs another attitude to the Uniqueness of the one Name.  We wish to reorient ourselves from the Torah, which is also sacred teaching for us.  And we hope that this reorientation has an inviting character.  We invite and we solicit being invited.  For remarkably enough there are also initiatives from the Jewish side.  Who knows what it will produce.

The Witness of this Singularity in World History

We draw yet another concentric circle, a third one, in which, just as in the Scriptures the witness of the one congregation is sounded in the midst of all communities under heaven.  These days, in this field, the relationship of the particular and the universal is enormously loaded and appears on all sides to be conceived exclusively as an opposition.  It is a topic everywhere.  On the one side we see the cosmopolitans, to whom the world community as a whole is very dear and who search there how the one can be the neighbor to the other.  They constantly threaten to put aside against “the” markets or “the” logic of big money which ever take on more abstract forms.  As such, market and logic have long dominated the student of magic instead of the reverse.  The general equivalent for all relationships is namely the one power, of which all servants bear the mark and by which all concreteness, the application of the oiko-nomia is evaporated to a pure exchange value.  Opposed to that stand the champions of the oikos, the local cultures or the coagulation of it in the people of the nation. They defend the particular.  But they deny that inside the housekeeping there always existed lords and slaves, that culture does not exist without barbarism and that the grown connections which they defend also reproduce unjustly.  And we are stuck with it, when we ask whether there is a choice here.  Does not a tertium appear between an ideal but empty universalism there, and a tangible but ambivalent particularism here?

You already feel it.  We ask ourselves now, whether the category of the singular also can help in this respect to ask the questions a bit differently.  I think that this is indeed the case, but we need to be careful not to grasp too quickly for supposed solutions.   There is a reason for paying attention to the unique.  Each creature is unique.  But as soon as unicity is made into a program, and as soon as person wishes to show his unicity. he may very quickly fall to a prey to one of both named powers. One begins to collaborate in the merry-go-round of the competition, where one discovers that many others wish to display the same unicity as you; you fall for the idols, Moses then says, or you are pushed to the front as a banner of a particular group which wishes to project their unicity in you and that is likewise idolatry. We therefore need to express ourselves more carefully: what do we mean in this connection by singularity?

Alain Badiou, the philosopher, who in spite of some differences, is not so far from Zizek, gives in the word list at the conclusion of his first main work L’etre et l’événement the following description: “ a term is singular if it is presented (in the situation) but not

represented (by the state of the situation).  A singular term belongs to the situation, but is not included in it.  It is an element, but not a part (italics added).  Singularity is opposed to excrescence and to the normality.  It is an essential attribute of  historical being, and especially of the ‘evental side.’” One would think that this man has read the Bible!  That is indeed the case.  The witness is not from this world (John 18:36), it has not been produced and it is not part of that which in the coagulation of elements produces the existing injustice.  Therefore it is not particular, not pars of a totum, namely the totum of what it has become.  Thus, it does not represent the ruler of this world.  But it does represent something, namely an event, a history, and indeed precisely in this place.  Thus Badiou.  I cannot avoid thinking of the witness of Jesus to Pilate, of Moses to Pharaoh or rather, of Moses to his own people:  “Hear, O Israel!”  In this hearing, with an appeal to the one and unique Name, the singular of an existence from one piece, is called to life.  The singular rises from an event and asks in reaction to it for a practice of love, an element that Badiou discounts emphatically in his thinking.

Our other spokesman, Slavoj Zizek agrees with all of this of Badiou, but he also expresses the fear that it will become too heroic and thereby potentially violent.  Is a life with the event and the moment still able to refer to concrete gripping situations and parallel small movements of the perspective bring to pass, to act or quite consciously to reject to act?  On that question, I note that Moses has more to offer.  “Hear, O Israel” after all, forms within the fifth book of the Torah the introduction of a collection of a series of commandments and instructions, which offer directed help to clear a way.  Therefore particular deformities do not remain what they are and a land appears on the horizon: a new earth under the heavens (Deuteronomy 12-26).  Upfront is the singularity of the Name itself, under whose authority we stand, for the secret is that of humanity, what righteousness and mercy really contain, it is in the Name and only enclosed in the Name.  But subsequently this One himself has sought a way from heaven to the earth.  And we may cling to that Name, track his ways and try to discover his concreteness.  We may therefore, concentrated on the singularity entrusted to us, explore the way of the commandments which surround this singular for nearer elucidation. And I genuinely hope that the work of the theological study group (comparable to a House of Learning) of the Foundation, the Bible classes and the philosophy tables to which this academic chair wishes to furnish its modest contribution, together with other similar explorations, will know how to execute.  Hopefully, as a result some will say: “Here, different, unheard and singular words may be heard, but something is said there!”  The calling out and spelling of the Name offer a highly unusual story, different from the current.  But this story will let itself be heard and will seek the conversation.  May this work thus contribute to the one thing necessary: “Hear, O Israel” - Mary heard at the feet of the Lord. And then, almost as a matter of course, Martha with her diakonein was nearby (Luc 10:38-42).  //  

 

 Translation: Martin Kessler 

                                                                                                            

 

 

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