Between a Saint and a Phenomenologist: Hart’s Theological Criticism of Marion
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In 2013, the first reader of Jean-Luc Marion’s works appeared, Jean-Luc Marion: The Essential Writings, meticulously edited by his friend and colleague Kevin Hart. Yet, if the appearance of volume marked Marion’s status as France’s most influential living philosopher, Hart’s Kingdoms of God marks the beginning of a systematic theology long in the making. In addition to serving as the prologemenon to his planned systematics, the work also serves to differentiate Hart’s phenomenological theology from Marion’s phenomenology of revelation and doctrine of revelation through the rendering of what Hart calls the basilaic reduction, on the basis of which Hart builds a twofold theological criticism of Marion. He first criticizes Marion’s claim that revelation can gain phenomenological status like ordinary phenomena, and second contests the notion that revelation is always characterized by a saturation that bedazzles its receiver. I explore each thinker’s approach to the relationship between philosophy and theology, using their engagements with the works of Jacques Derrida and Karl Barth as points of comparison in order to contextualize Hart’s theological criticisms of Marion. I conclude by arguing that Hart’s, rather than Marion’s, approach to the relationship between philosophy and theology corresponds to the core concerns of the second generation of the “theological turn” of French phenomenology.