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Christian Transformation and the Encounter with the World's Holy Canons

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  08 January 2014

Peter Feldmeier*
Affiliation:
University of Toledo

Abstract

Philosophical approaches to hermeneutics, such as we find in Hans-Georg Gadamer and Paul Ricoeur, offer insights into how a classic text expands one's horizons, through both a dynamic game of conversation between reader and text and the enlarged sense of self that comes from entering into the proposed world of the text. Comparative theology follows these leads by showing how engaging in the canons of the religious other allows one fresh insights into one's own religious tradition's familiar and revered truths. This article is an exercise in such an approach, examining three Asian traditions and samples from their most classic textual representatives. By engaging the Dhammapada from Theravada Buddhism, classic sayings from Zen, and the Dao-De-Jing and Zhuangzi from the Daoist tradition, we see how we might appropriate the Catholic theological and spiritual traditions with fresh eyes and new insights.

Type
Articles
Copyright
Copyright © College Theology Society 2013 

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References

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2 Ibid., 278–89.

3 Here I am broadly relying on Ricoeur, Paul, Interpretation Theory: Discourse and the Surplus of Meaning (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1976)Google Scholar; and Ricoeur, , Hermeneutics and the Human Sciences: Essays on Language, Action, and Interpretation, ed. and trans. Thompson, John B. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1981)CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

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11 Clooney is again a good example. On the former approach, see Clooney, Francis X., The Truth, the Way, the Life: Christian Commentary on the Three Holy Mantras of the Srivaisnavas (Leuven: Peeters, 2008)Google Scholar. Here his Hindu text involves just three mantras, collectively just twenty words. On the latter approach, see Clooney, Francis X., Hindu Wisdom for All God's Children (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 1998)Google Scholar.

12 Translations of the Dhammapada are mine.

13 Wimal Dissanayake refers to the Dhammapada as “the inmost soul of Buddhism, embodying the whole of the Buddha's teaching.” See Dissanayake, Wimal, “Self and Body in Theravāda Buddhism: A Tropological Analysis of the Dhammapada,” in Self as Body in Asian Theory and Practice, ed. Kasulis, Thomas et al. (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1993), 123–45Google Scholar, at 129.

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