Thursday, 24 March 2011

Scandalon II (another note on typology)

If we can offer our sympathetic imagination even the faintest idea of Abraham's despair, the idea of typology might imply that God's despair is "prefigured" in Abraham's – Abraham's imaginable, unimaginable despair. God's despair: Father's as well as Son's – "Eli Eli lama sabachthani?" – in one person; a figure of utter abandon, a moment of God's most desperate solitude, as the Son of Man – and God – at the same time.

Scandalon (a note on "typology")

I am trying to think about the most extreme of all typologies:* the relation between Abraham's sacrifice and its "antitype" – or, in other words – the sacrifice of Isaac and its "antitype".

I came across a "scandalon" that is, I believe, radically different from the consequence of José Saramago's great novel The Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The scandalon I ended up contemplating resembles, as an extreme scandalon, many others in the Bible, both Old and New Testament; episodes that show God himself showing hesitation, remorse, or other strangely – or perhaps just apparently – "human" characteristics, episodes that Jacques Derrida singled out in several of his writings dealing with, for example, the relation between religion and "the origin of literature".

I would refer to this extreme scandalon by the words God's suffering or the "passion" of God; but it is not only the Son's passion. If we take the typology "seriously enough" (Kierkegaard would probably detest the assumption that there can be an "enough" in this "case"), we cannot overrule the suffering of the Father – a moment of mad suffering, a mad passion, incomprehensible, impossible.

The mystics say that God's drunkenness is infinitely more sober than human sobriety, and that God's folly is infinitely wiser than human wisdom.

I am probably not the first to have thought – or tried to think – along these lines, about this most extreme of all typologies. In any case, I am not a theologian, but rather one of the so-called "free thinkers", one who tries to commit his freedom to think the unthinkable. An agnostic of sorts, I guess. (I'm not sure if I could call myself an "atheist", because the atheists that I know would probably refuse to even think about such a theme as "God's suffering". Some of them might even deny that Saramago, for example, is a real atheist.)

P.S. This blog post probably just reveals a shameful lack of erudition, but I'll expose myself to this threat. Please comment.


* The ellipsis is intentional: I would not say "the most extreme case", "the most extreme example", for example. It is not just an "example" among others.