Interuniversitair Instituut voor Missiologie en Oecumenica, Afdeling Missiologie
Exchange: Journal of Missiological and Ecumenical Research vol:37 issue:3 pages:337-364
The contemporary theology of inter-religious dialogue is marked by a debate between pluralism
on the one hand and post-liberal particularism on the other. According to the first, religious
identity implies an openness for religious otherness. Post-liberal particularists, in contrast, draw
attention to the value of identity. What matters in the context of plurality is to show more commitment
and to stress the particularity of the irreducible difference between the religious languages.
From this perspective post-liberal particularism claims an untranslatability of religions.
Th is claim appears to construct a serious barrier within the dialogue between religions. Recently,
this discussion between pluralists and post-liberalists has reached an impasse. In this article I set
out to give this impasse a new turn. With this view in mind, I am inspired by Ricoeur’s latest
publication On Translation (2006), which is dedicated to the enigma of linguistic diversity and
the question of the (un-)translatability of languages. Beyond the mesmerizing discussion concerning
the theoretical possibility or impossibility of translation, Ricoeur states that the appropriate
attitude of a translator is one of linguistic hospitality. Ricoeur suggests that this linguistic
hospitality can model for inter-religious dialogue. However, he does not elaborate on this thought
and challenges others to think through his suggestion. In this article I gladly accept this challenge,
hoping that this will throw new light on the current discussion between pluralists and
post-liberal particularists. In line with Ricoeur’s position, I argue that religious languages are not
untranslatable and that inter-religious dialogue is possible, provided that the ethical posture of
hermeneutical hospitality for the religious other is adopted.