Theology and Philosophy

Simone Weil Lecture 2013

Between Love and Law: Paul and Philosophy - Jeffrey Bloechl (Boston College)

Simone Weil poster

Lecture Abstract

According to Paul, life in the spiritual community aspires to the virtues of faith, hope and love. Of these, the greatest is love (1 Cor 13:13). Love, be observes, carries us beyond the attachments to this world that still threaten a way of life that is ordered only by the law. Singly and together, the members of the body of Christ (1 Cor 12) thus answer a call to transcend the law, though without cancelling it or destroying it.

During the past few decades, some philosophers interested in getting free of a modern preoccupation with law have drawn on these features of Pauline thinking in their attempts to develop new theories of community and subjectivity.

Yet this effort on their part seems not to extend all the way to embracing any version of Paul's Christian monotheism, and so we are immediately confronted with a series of evident questions:

  • What is gained and what is lost when Paul is read in this one-sided and limited way?
  • What might be the relationship between certain Pauline conceptions--especially our relation to the law--and their correlates in the non-religious philosophies that are inspired by them?
  • And what, finally, would it truly mean for us today to relate ourselves to the law without becoming subservient to it?

Jeffrey Bloechl is Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at Boston College. He is an internationally respected scholar of contemporary European philosophy of religion and psychoanalysis, with a particular interest in the work and legacy of Emmanuel Levinas.

He is the author of Liturgy of the Neighbor: Emmanuel Levinas and the Religion of Responsibility (Duquesne University Press) and founding editor, with Jeffrey Kosky, of Levinas Studies: An Annual Review.

He has edited substantial collections on Levinas (The Face of the Other and the Trace of God: Essays on the Thought of Emmanuel Levinas – Fordham University Press) and the philosophy of religion (Religious Experience and the End of Metaphysics – Indiana University Press), and has translated major works by Jean-Louis Chretien and Roger Burggraeve.

Prof Bloechl is currently at work on a phenomenological anthropology of Christian life, a critical commentary on Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents, and various other projects.

For further information, please contact Dr. Richard Colledge email