Home - Philosophical, Theological and Literary Perspectives


  • Chris Harris
  • Maureen Strugnell


The first part of this paper will use approaches taken by Emmanuel Levinas to address apparent ambiguities towards home shown in the New Testament. There have been attempts to explain these ambiguities in sociological terms (Horsley, 1989 versus Theissen, 1978; Crosby, 1988; Koenig, 1985) but Levinas' understanding of "leaving home" can be used to provide philosophical explanations which satisfy twentieth century readers and may indeed, have made even more sense in the first century. There are ironies here, of course. Levinas is a twentieth century Jew, who is steeped in Jewish tradition (Levinas, 1990), but who philosophises in the Greek tradition. Does he throw light on the of first century Christians, many of whom lived at the intersection of Jewish and Greek thought? It is argued here that he does! The second part of the paper is concerned with the insights offered to current literary theory by Levinas's elucidation of notions of identity and alterity. In particular, it examines three potent images that Levinas employs in his discussion of the relationship of the self to the other, and these images concern the nature of home, the journey home, and the speaking face of the other who calls us from, or possibly to home.