Revelation is a central category in many religions. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism or Unificationists are difficult if not impossible to imagine without it. For some, revelation signifies a decisive event in the past, for others it is a present reality. It plays a central role in shaping religious identities, and it is the reason for much criticism. Some follow a religion only because of its claim to divine revelation, whereas others criticize it as "hearsay upon hearsay” (Paine) on which they would never rest their belief. For some, God has put everything at risk in revelation, including his own being, exposing himself to the utter contingency of existence; for others, even the idea of revelation is an embarrassment to their understanding of a perfect and absolute God. Sometimes revelation is used to refer to a special source of information about the divine accessible only to a few, in the hand of others it becomes virtually indistinguishable from religious experience or experience in general. Sometimes revelation is understood to be self-communicating and self-authenticating, at other times revelations need mediations and mediators. In some traditions, true revelation is always personal and experienced, and past revelation must continually be made revelation again. Some religions have built elaborate institutions of priests and privileged interpreters to safeguard their revelation, control access to it and to protect the right way of interpreting and communicating it. Theologies have distinguished between natural and supernatural, general, specific and individual, personal and impersonal revelation, between revelation, inspiration and incarnation, or between revelation and divine self-revelation. But claims to revelation have also been criticized as strategies of self-immunization, which allow religions to avoid critical public debate of their views and teachings, or legitimize the position of those in power.
The 33rd Conference of Philosophy of Religion at Claremont Graduate University in 2012 addressed these complex issues by concentrating on three areas of debate: I. Revelation and Reason, II. Hermeneutics of Revelation, III. Phenomenology of Revelation.
Survey of contents:
Preface Ingolf U. Dalferth: Introduction: Understanding Revelation
I. Revelation and Reason William J. Abraham: Revelation and Reason - Michael Ch. Rodgers: Finding Meaning in God’s Actions: A Response to William J. Abraham - Stephen T. Davis: The Consequences of Revelation - Joshua Kira : Clarifying and Complicating Revelation: A Response to Stephen T. Davis - John D. Caputo : The Invention of Revelation: A Hybrid Hegelian Approach with a Dash of Deconstruction - Bruce Paolozzi : The Reality of Revelation: A Response to John D. Caputo
II. Hermeneutics of Revelation James L. Fredericks: Discourse and Disclosure: Gadamer, Levinas and the Theology of Revelation - Claudia Welz: Resonating and Reflecting the Divine: The Notion of Revelation in Jewish Theology, Philosophy, and Poetry - Kirsten Gerdes : Materiality of Metaphor: The Risk of Revelation - George Pattison: Revealing the Thoughts of the Heart - Marlene Block : Speaking of God, of Human Being, and of the Heart: A Response to George Pattison
III. Phenomenology of Revelation Oona Eisenstadt: The Revelatory Content of Weak Messianism: The Contraction of the theological in the thought of Emmanuel Levinas - Eric E. Hall : Levinas and Infinity: A Response to Oona Eisenstadt - Thomas Carlson : Revelation and Ruin. A Secular Heart, from Emerson to McCarthy - Jeff Murico : Reimagining the Religious-Secular Dichotomy: A Response to Thomas Carlson