Opening the Texts . . .

Jon K. Cooley, St. John’s College, Cambridge

Peace from God Almighty be with you in this time of trouble.

May I begin with a question? Is it the case that Prof. Watson’s paper, useful as it is on so many levels, does not actually exhibit any of the leading characteristics of Scriptural Reasoning as set forth in the “founding documents” of the Society ( e.g. , Prof. Ochs’ 1999 “The Rules of Scriptural Reasoning”)? If so, I must leave it to others to show how it can fruitfully be integrated into the life of the Society. To a degree, Prof. Young has done this in his commentary, but I – for one – should need more than the addition of Aquinas to the mix to consider the matter properly addressed. It cannot be detrimental to the work of the Society, however, that Prof. Watson has introduced figures thus far neglected – e.g., Justin Martyr and Hermann Gunkel – into the focus of our common work.

As for Prof. Wolfson’s paper, it presented me with a challenge; one that I confess exceeded my ability to resolve. Briefly put, the challenge to me lay, not in the dense examinations he presented on Kabbalistic readings of the Genesis text and the gendered elements therein (I am unable to test those examinations on his terms, and so must re-sign that work to others who are able), but in the philosophical pre- and post-ludes which bracketed them. A bit more specifically, Prof. Wolfson’s inclusion of such figures as Levinas, Rosenzweig, and – perhaps at a bit of a surprised remove – Derrida did not appear to me as exceptional. Linking those with Heidegger, however, did, and herein lay the challenge: how can Heidegger, even “corrected” by Levinas and Derrida – if, indeed, that is what Prof. Wolfson was intimating in these interludes – be incorporated within the pragmatic philosophical focus currently espoused by Scriptural Reasoning in its major expositions (e.g., Prof. Ochs’ 1998 Peirce, Pragmatism and the Logic of Scripture )? In asking this question, I have in mind the role Heidegger’s Schweig plays in his early work, but which only found explicit “articulation” after 1945. Prof. Kepnes has addressed the first part of this challenge in his commentary – though not so much the second – but, again, I think more attention should be given.

This brings me to the commentary by Prof. Rogers, which, by my reckoning, was about neither Prof. Watson’s nor Prof. Wolfson’s paper, but on the Scriptural text itself. I admit to liking this piece a great deal, precisely because it read the text “for itself,” which, of course, means in the aftermath of being taught by many as to its “meaning” and in light of continual study, prayer, and observation. Yet, for all that, two worries remain, which I shall state elliptically, i.e. , with two points describing a field of concern:

(1) if, as Prof. Rogers suggests, God opens the divine life radically to the worst humanly possible, what status does the worst humanly possible have in the divine economy?

(2) Is the “great feast,” toward which Prof. Rogers directs his praise and exhortation – and, thereby, us – able to entertain the possibility that, at least in Matthew’s recounting (22: 1-14; which is the one quoted), Jesus meant the comparison negatively, i.e. , that this is not how the Kingdom is to be considered?

Those two questions may be re-phrased:

(1) Is Prof. Rogers’ too aesthetic (erotic?) a presentation?

(2) Beyond the varied failures of Scriptural Reasoning, what is truth ?