Ricoeur’s proposal to understand the encounter between religions as a practice of ‘linguistic hospitality’ has appealed to many interreligious scholars. Usually, religious texts are at the heart of interreligious hermeneutics, turning Ricoeur’s linguistic hospitality into a practice of interreligious cross-reading (e.g. Scriptural reasoning, comparative theology). Recently, due to the influence of material and ritual scholars, the textual focus of interreligious hermeneutics has been criticized. Two criticisms are prominent. First, the assumption that understanding religious otherness is best mediated via language and texts leads (inter)religious scholars to minimize the ‘non-textual’ practices in religious life. Second, interreligious interpreters mistakenly assume that they can read all meaningful action and ritual performances, especially as texts. This assumption leads to a textualization of the world and does not take into account that there might be other ‘vehicles of intelligibility’ apart from texts. In this article, I explore to what extent the criticisms raised against Ricoeur’s interreligious hermeneutics are fair. I have learned from Ricoeur the importance of mediating between seemingly opposed positions, and I seek to follow his example in this article.
- interreligious hermeneutics
- ritual studies