Raising Death: Resurrection between Christianity and Modernity - A Dialogue with Jean-Luc Nancy's Noli me tangere

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In his philosophical project of a “deconstruction of monotheism,” Jean-Luc Nancy explores the hypothesis that the historical roots of secularization should be traced back to the beginnings of the monotheistic traditions. The secular is not exclusively a feature of modern culture. The complex connections and tensions between secularity and religion in recent decades can only be analyzed effectively if one rethinks the notion of the secular along these historical lines. The author offers a brief introduction into Nancy’s project, before focusing on a theme that is central to one of the monotheistic traditions, Christianity: that of the resurrection. He reads and comments on parts of Nancy’s essay Noli me tangere, an innovative interpretation of John 20.11–18. In dialogue with Nancy he then develops a new view on the resurrection, in which paradoxically death is given a central meaning. This also involves a new insight in the immanence of transcendence. In the resurrection, it is death itself that resurrects. The idea is criticized that death would be vanquished into a life after death–as dominant approach in Christian doctrine has it, thereby expanding the modest little epilogue that the tale of the “empty tomb” actually is in the gospels, to a massive foundation of Christian redemption. Resurrection is affirmed as a life in death as well as a death in life. The resurrection of the mortal, earthly and vulnerable God that Christ is, invites an affirmation of the here and now, of humanity and of the human body: a “yes” to the world, not to an afterworld. Parallel to this analysis, the author takes up Nancy’s suggestion that the resurrection, and in fact the entire gospel, is a parable, and that its “truth” is a parabolic truth: playing with the impossible and the miraculous, in which truth and falsehood become entangled with each other.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)195-206
Number of pages11
JournalAngelaki, Journal of the Theoretical Humanities.
Issue number3-4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Special issue with Jean-Luc Nancy: 'The Pulse of Sense'
Eds: Marie Chab bert, Nikolaas De Ketelaere


  • death
  • deconstruction of Christianity
  • parable
  • resurrection
  • secularity/religion
  • transcendence

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