The Guide to Gethsemane

The Guide to Gethsemane : Anxiety, Suffering, Death

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Anxiety, suffering and death are not simply the "ills" of our society, nor are they uniquely the product of a sick and sinful humanity. We must all some day confront them, and we continually face their implications long before we do. In that sense, the Garden of Gethsemane is not merely a garden "outside the walls" of Jerusalem but also the essential horizon for all of us, whether we are believers or not.

Emmanuel Falque explores, with no small measure of doubt, Heidegger's famous statement that by virtue of Christianity's claims of salvation and the afterlife, its believers cannot authentically experience anxiety in the face of death. In this theological development of the Passion, already widely debated upon its publication in French, Falque places a radical emphasis on the physicality and corporeality of Christ's suffering and death, marking the continuities between Christ's Passion and our own orientation to the mortality of our bodies. Beginning with an elaborate reading of the divine and human bodies whose suffering is masterfully depicted in the Isenheim Altarpiece, and written in the wake of the death of a close friend, Falques's study is both theologically rigorous and marked by deeply human concerns.

Falque is at unusual pains to elaborate the question of death in terms not merely of faith, but of a "credible Christianity" that remains meaningful to non-Christians, holding, with Maurice Blondel, that "the important thing is not to address believers but to say something which counts in the eyes of unbelievers." His account is therefore as much a work of philosophy as of theology-and of philosophy explicated not through abstractions but through familiar and ordinary experience. Theology's task, for Falque, is to understand that human problems of the meaning of existence apply even to Christ, at least insofar as he lives in and shares our finitude. In Falque's remarkable account, Christ takes upon himself the burden of suffering finitude, so that he can undertake a passage through it, or a transformation of it.

This book, a key text from one the most remarkable of a younger generation of philosophers and theologians, will be widely read and debated by all who hold that theology and philosophy has the most to offer when it eschews easy answers and takes seriously our most anguishing human experiences.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 200 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 22.86mm | 294.84g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0823281957
  • 9780823281954
  • 1,458,307

Back cover copy

"In this dramatic opening to his triptych on Christ's passion, Emmanuel Falque demonstrates--once again--his complete refusal to rest with easy answers. Christ, he argues, experiences anxiety and suffering that are just as real and confusing as that of any ordinary person. The result is that God does not suffer at some comfortable distance but right here in our midst. One can hardly read this book without being deeply moved."--Bruce Ellis Benson, author of Liturgy as a Way of Life Anxiety, suffering and death are not simply the "ills" of our society, nor are they uniquely the product of a sick and sinful humanity. We must all some day confront them, and we continually face their implications long before we do. In that sense, the Garden of Gethsemane is not merely a garden "outside the walls" of Jerusalem but also the essential horizon for all of us, whether we are believers or not. Doubtful of Heidegger's famous statement that the notion of salvation renders Christians unable authentically to experience anxiety in the face of death, Falque explores the Passion with a radical emphasis on the physicality and corporeality of Christ's suffering and death, and on continuities with the mortality of our bodies. Written in the wake of the death of a close friend, Falques's study is both theologically rigorous and marked by deeply human concerns. Falque is at pains to elaborate the question of death in terms not of faith, but of a "credible Christianity" that remains meaningful to nonbelievers. His account is therefore as much a work of philosophy as of theology--and of philosophy explicated not through abstractions but through familiar and ordinary experience. Theology's task, for Falque, is to understand that human problems of the meaning of existence apply even to Christ, at least insofar as he lives in and shares our finitude. In Falque's remarkable account, Christ takes upon himself the burden of suffering finitude, so that he can undertake a passage through it, or a transformation of it. Emmanuel Falque is Honorary Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Catholic University of Paris. George Hughes has served as Professor in the Faculty of Letters at the University of Tokyo.
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Table of contents

Translator's Note xiii

Preface to the English-Language Edition xv

Opening: The Isenheim Altarpiece or "The Taking on Board of Suffering" xvii

Introduction: Shifting Understandings of Anxiety 1

PART I: THE FACE-TO-FACE OF FINITUDE

1 From the Burden of Death to Flight before Death 7

1 The Burden of Death, 7 2 Fleeing from Death, 8

2 The Face of Death or Anxiety over Finitude 10

3 Death "for Us" Humans, 10 4 Genesis and Its

Symbolism, 11 5 The Mask of Perfection, 12 6 The Image

of Finitude in Man, 13 7 Finitude: Finite and Infinite, 16

8 Finitude and Anxiety, 16 9 The Eclipse of Finitude, 17

10 The Face of Death, 18 11 To Die "with," 19

3 The Temptation of Despair or Anxiety over Sin 22

13 Inevitable Death, 22 14 The Conquest of Sin, 22

15 Sin and Anxiety, 23 16 The Temptation of Despair, 24

4 From the Affirmation of Meaninglessness to the Suspension of Meaning 26

17 The Life Sentence, 26 18 The Christian Witness, 27

19 Meaninglessness and the Suspension of Meaning, 27

PART II: CHRIST FACED WITH ANXIETY OVER DEATH

20 Two Meditations on Death, 29 21 Alarm and

Anxiety, 31

5 The Fear of Dying and Christ's "Alarm" 33

22 Taking on Fear and Abandonment, 33 23 The Cup,

Sadness, and Sleep, 34 24 Resignation, Waiting, and

Heroism, 35 25 The Silence at the End, 36

26 The Scenarios of Death, 37 27 The Triple

Failure of the Staging, 38 28 From Alarm to Anxiety, 39

6 God's Vigil 41

29 Remaining Always Awake, 41 30 The Passage of Death,

the Present of the Passion, the Future of the Resurrection, 42

31 Theological Actuality and Phenomenological Possibility, 43

7 The Narrow Road of Anxiety 45

32 Indefiniteness, Reduction to Nothing, and Isolation, 45

33 The Strait Gate, 46 34 Anxiety over "Simply Death," 47

35 Indefiniteness (Putting off the Cup) and the Powerless Power

of God, 47 36 Reduction to Nothing and Kenosis, 52

37 The Isolation of Humankind and Communion with the

Father, 54 38 Of Anxiety Endured on the Horizon of Death, 55

8 Death and Its Possibilities 57

39 Manner of Living, Possibility of the Impossibility, and Death

as "Mineness," 57 40 Being Vigilant at Gethsemane, 59

41 From the Actuality of the Corpse to Possibilities for

the Living, 60 42 The Death That Is Always His: Suffering in

God; The Gift of His Life and Refusal of Mastery, 63

43 The Flesh Forgotten, 66

PART III: THE BODY-TO-BODY OF SUFFERING AND DEATH

44 Disappropriation and Incarnation, 69 45 Embedding in

the Flesh and Burial in the Earth, 70

9 From Self-Relinquishment to the Entry into the Flesh 73

46 Suffering the World, 73 47 Living in the

World, 74 48 Otherness and Corruptibility, 74

49 Self-Relinquishment, 75 50 Passing to the Father,

76 51 Oneself as an Other, 77 52 Destitution and

Auto-Affection, 78 53 Alterity and Fraternity, 79

54 Entry into the Flesh, 80 55 The Anxiety "in"

the Flesh, 81 56 Toward Dumb Experience, 82

10 Suffering Occluded 84

57 An Opportunity Thwarted, 84 58 Called into

Question, 86 59 Toward a Phenomenology of Suffering, 86

11 Suffering Incarnate 88

60 Perceiving, or the Challenge of the Toucher-Touching,

88 61 The Modes of the Incarnate Being, 91

62 The Excess of the Suffering Body, 94

12 The Revealing Sword 97

63 Sobbing and Tears, 97 64 Fleshly Exodus, 99

65 The Vulnerable Flesh, 100 66 The Non-Substitutable

Substitution, 101 67 The Act of Surrendering Oneself, 103

68 Toward a Revelation, 104 69 Useless Suffering, 104

Conclusion: The In-Fans [without-Speech] or the Silent Flesh 107

Epilogue: From One Triptych to Another 111

Notes 115

Index 157
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Review quote

What this book does with power and sensitivity is to call Christians to a reflection on the reality of suffering and death, and to point unbelievers to the resources at the heart of Christianity, coming from Christ himself, for speaking to the reality of suffering and death. * Modern Theology * In this dramatic opening to his triptych on Christ's passion, Emmanuel Falque demonstrates-once again-his complete refusal to rest with easy answers. Christ, he argues, experiences anxiety and suffering that are just as real and confusing as that of any ordinary person. The result is that God does not suffer at some comfortable distance but right here in our midst. One can hardly read this book without being deeply moved. -- Bruce Ellis Benson, author of Liturgy as a Way of Life
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About Emmanuel Falque

Emmanuel Falque (Author)

Emmanuel Falque is Honorary Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy at the Catholic University of Paris. His most recent book in English is The Wedding Feast of the Lamb: Eros, the Body, and the Eucharist.

George Hughes (Translator)

George Hughes has served as Professor in the Faculty of Letters at the University of Tokyo.
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