Tradition and Transformation : Towards a Messianic Critique of Religion

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


This article departs from the assumption that any serious discussion of religion has to admit that religious traditions, by their very nature, are dynamic and self-exceeding. Traditions, in other words, are evolving by being actively interpreted and reinterpreted by their adherents in every new time. This is where the notion of critique and self-critique comes into the picture. Precisely because traditions are the products of contingent choices by human individuals – individuals who always run the risk of confusing their own choices with God’s will or commands – they are in constant need of critique. It is my conviction, however, that a pertinent and constructive critique of religion is most successfully achieved when undertaken from within the religious tradition itself. Such a critique from within could be carried out in various ways, drawing on the so-called prophetic vein present in the biblical religious traditions. This article highlights one aspect of this prophetic vein, i.e. the messianic motive. In line with Emmanuel Levinas’ phenomenological reading of the messianic (or perhaps rather messianic reading of phenomenology), its aim is to outline what could be termed a messianic critique of religion.


External organisations
  • Stockholm school of theology
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Religious Studies


  • messianism, prophetism, Levinas, tradition, phenomenology, critique of religion
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPhenomenology and Religion : New Frontiers
EditorsJonna Bornemark, Hans Ruin
PublisherSödertörn Philosophical Studies
ISBN (Print)9789186069162
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Publication categoryResearch
Externally publishedYes

Publication series

ISSN (Print)1651-6834

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