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Document Details :
Title: The Kenosis of God
Subtitle: Vattimo and Levinas on Incarnation, «Useless» Suffering, and the Secularization of History
Author(s): BAIRD, Marie L.
Journal: Louvain Studies
Volume: 31 Issue: 3-4 Date: 2006
This essay demonstrates that Emmanuel Levinas’s discussion of kenosis in his essay “A Man-God?” is an important complement to Vattimo’s Christian understanding of the processes of history because it is able to bridge a certain gap between the salvific kenosis of God in Christ and the problem of meaningless suffering in history. It shows that Levinas’s transformation of kenosis into the self-emptying of the ethical subject who suffers on behalf of the other helps to affirm a continuous divine working in history while not infringing on Vattimo’s claim that the Incarnation has triggered the secularizing progression of history. It also shows that the outcome of kenosis, both divine and human, will be similar for both thinkers as they confront the problem of suffering. Levinas’s ethical responsibility will be met by Vattimo’s insistence upon the primacy of caritas as the heart of a new Christian practice in history.