Leashing God with Levinas: Tracing a trinity with Levinas

Heythrop Journal 40 (3):301–318 (1999)
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Abstract

Levinas' ethical metaphysics opens up a nexus of relationships, in the midst of which God becomes accessible as the counterpart of the justice I render to others. Although Levinas refuses a theorising theology which does violence to God, we attempt in this article nonetheless to glimpse the possibility of a divine threesome which can be articulated in the language of ethical metaphysics. We seek to trace a Trinity, not in Levinas, but with Levinas. We seek to ‘leash God with Levinas.’Thus, we argue the liturgical nature of God. God is utterly ‘for‐the‐other.’ The Father, as utterly self‐diffusive, is ‘for‐the‐Son’, and the Son, as utterly responsive, is ‘for‐the‐Father.’ The divine nature is the ethical reality of ‘for‐the‐other.’ Secondly, this one nature has three distinct hypostases, which need to be understood ethically. The relationship between Father and Son is not the same as the relationship between the Son and the Father. The Father and the Son are the same in that they are essentially ‘for‐the‐other,’ bound by a bond or a Spirit of responsibility. Yet, the Son's relation to the Father is responsive, whereas the Father's relation to the Son is initiative or originary. Thus, there is both an identity yet a non‐identification of Father and Son. Again, since responsibility is the ethical hypostasis of ‘the‐other‐person‐in me,’ we might say that the Father is in the Son and the Son is in the Father , in a non‐identical way, and that it is precisely this perichoresis of the one in the Other which constitutes the hypostasis of each

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