CBA Instant Retrospect

At the risk of commending another Dead White French [Postmodern] guy, the Hermeneutics Task Force of the Catholic Biblical Association has been holding a very provocative series of discussions of the work of Michel de Certeau (specifically, this year, essays from Hetereologies and The Practice of Everyday Life) (I know, it’s twenty or thirty years late; remember, though, that this is biblical scholarship, so by our local time, we’re right on schedule). Note to Margaret: evidently Certeau started out as a protégé of Henri de Lubac. We’re only getting a little way into each essay — “Walking in the City,” “History: Science and Fiction,” and “Reading as Poaching” — provoke us to talk about the relation of textuality to the real, the role of power and authority in interpretive discourses, the social, ethical, institutional, and epistemological status of the interpreter. Cool stuff.

3 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I met de Certeau years ago, and he certainly was a compelling thinker. But I’m surprised you’re not reading any of his essays on religion… a good question, though, is to what extent his theology had become so apophatic that it deconstructed itself until only historical “traces” were left. But maybe that’s what made him such a scrupulous historian?
    And speaking of de Lubac, I hear John Milbank is coming out with a book on him.

  2. Certeau is a very interesting person. I used him for my PhD on the emerging church, to “read” the living liturgicaly theology of the emerging church. All fairly obtuse, but I tried to make Certeau more readily accessible in my book the out of bounds church? Zondervan, 2005.

    There is this great story told that at Certeau’s funeral his Catholic Superior announced “Certeau might not have died a Christian, but he died a Jesuit.” A very multi-layered reading of a number of traditions, which I’m sure Certeau would have appreciated.

    What is amazing for me is how Certeau appears in so many fields – Graham Ward explores him in theology, many cultural studies people rebounded off him. And now it looks like the Catholics are reading him hermeneutically.

  3. Okay, I’ve been laughing on and off all day at “our local time.” It is a much more charitable, value-neutral term than the epithets I’ve used for the, um, sauntering mosey with which we sidle up to the ancillary disciplines.

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