Ricoeur’s Hermeneutic of God: A Symbol That Gives Rise to Thought

Philosophy and Theology 13 (2):287-309 (2001)

Abstract

This paper suggests that Ricoeur’s language about God can be read as a “symbol that gives rise to thought,” or even specifically as a symbol for “hope.” It examines the tensions found in Ricoeur’s hermeneutics in four layers of such symbolic language: First, the language of faith, for Ricoeur, is essentially circular, is poetic language, a language of manifestation and not of adequation. Second, the biblical discourse is composed of several kinds of languages, a polyphony of discourses that provide different (though individually always incomplete) paths toward God. Third, these discourses are characterized by limit-expressions that introduce extravagance and excess into God-language and open paths to new possibilities. Finally, Ricoeur’s theological language emphasizes paradox, perplexity, enigmas; it stays open toward any thinking about God that gives rise to new thoughts

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