Volume: Revelation

The 33rd Annual Philosophy of Religion Conference will explore the topic of Revelation. Revelation plays a vital role in a great number of religious traditions and raises important philosophical, hermeneutical and theological questions in need of conceptual elucidation and clarification. Revelation is a central category in many religions. Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Mormonism or Unificationists are difficult if not impossible to imagine without it. For some, revelation signifies a decisive event in the past, for others it is a present reality. It plays a central role in shaping religious identities, and it is the reason for much criticism. Some follow a religion only because of its claim to divine revelation, whereas others criticize it as “hearsay upon hearsay” (Paine) on which they would never rest their belief. Sometimes revelation is used to refer to a special source of information about the divine accessible only to a few, while in the hand of others it becomes virtually indistinguishable from religious experience or experience in general. Sometimes revelation is understood to be self-communicating and self-authenticating, at other times revelations need mediations and mediators. In some traditions, true revelation is always personal and experienced, and past revelation must continually be made revelation again. Some religions have built elaborate institutions of priests and privileged interpreters to safeguard their revelation, control access to it and to protect the right way of interpreting and communicating it. Theologies have distinguished between natural and supernatural, general, specific and individual, personal and impersonal revelation, between revelation, inspiration and incarnation, or between revelation and divine self-revelation. But claims to revelation have also been criticized as strategies of self-immunization, which allow religions to avoid critical public debate of their views and teachings, or legitimize the position of those in power.

The conference seeks to provide a forum for critical analysis and discussion of the concepts and criticisms of revelation and of the status, role and content of claims to revelation in different religious traditions. Its focus is philosophical and theological, but it seeks to engage in dialogue not only with conceptual constructions of revelation but also with the reality of the discourse of revelation in religious and theological traditions today.