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Charred Root of Meaning
Continuity, Transgression, and the Other in Christian Tradition

HARDCOVER; Published: 7/24/2018
ISBN: 978-0-8028-6345-4
Price: $ 50.00
264 Pages
Trim Size, in inches: 6 x 9
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Series: Interventions

Ecologists tell us that periodic wildfires, though devastating, are necessary to the rhythm of nature. The death of the old allows something new to grow, sometimes straight back from the charred roots. Christian tradition functions much the same way, says Philipp Rosemann. In this book he examines how transgression and destruction are crucial in the foundation and preservation of tradition.

Theories of tradition have emphasized the handing-down of identity rather than continuity through difference. Rosemann shows that divine revelation occurs as an irruption that challenges the existing order. The preservation of tradition, he argues, requires that this challenge be periodically repeated. Offering a historical, theological, and philosophical approach to Christian tradition, Charred Root of Meaning shows how transgression and reformation keep the Christian faith alive. 

Bruce D. Marshall
— Perkins School of Theology
Southern Methodist University
“ ‘Transgression’ is constitutive of the Christian tradition, Philipp Rosemann argues, yet transgression is nothing without the tradition whose roots it seeks to lay bare. From close reading of Scripture to unpacking an anonymous early gloss on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, from Denys the Carthusian’s mystical reading of his scholastic forbears to Luther’s influence on Heidegger, from Dionysius the Areopagite to Foucault and Derrida, Rosemann crosses conventional academic boundaries with sure-footed ease to make his case. Anyone who cares how the Christian tradition holds together will be provoked, stimulated, and informed by what he says here.”
Catherine Pickstock
— University of Cambridge
“In this remarkable and arresting book, Philipp Rosemann rewrites accounts of tradition in the unfolding of the Christian legacy. As he shows, its continuity does not preclude decisive episodes of both rupture and return, nor of ambiguity, in which universal liberation may entail new and specific repressions. With great originality, Rosemann argues that catholic truth resides somewhere between revolutionary ‘despoliation’ and a renewed ‘literal’ respect even for the apparently superseded other.”
William Desmond
— Villanova University
Katholieke Universiteit Leuven
“This is a marvelous meditation on tradition and transgression, whose inextricable connection is explored with respect to the Christian tradition from Jewish origins to problematic postmodernism. Its range extends from Foucault, Heidegger, and Kant to Peter Lombard, Pseudo-Dionysius, and Augustine. . . . It is as alert to the connection of devotion and transgression in the Middle Ages as it is to the empty impertinence of some contemporary forms of transgression. . . . A remarkable, indeed outstanding book. Very warmly recommended.”
John Milbank (from the foreword)
— University of Nottingham
“Philipp Rosemann is a very unusual historian of theology and philosophy whose work is always informed by strongly theoretical interests, deeply explored, yet lightly borne and lucidly expounded, as the reader of this book will quickly discover. . . . The remarkable unity of Rosemann’s ultimate vision shines through all the careful scholarly precision and ecclesial good sense of this work.”
Modern Theology
Charred Root of Meaning compellingly presents Christian tradition as an act always returning to its source—the frightening encounter with a God who continuously transgresses limits.”