Since Heidegger, it has become something of an unquestioned presupposition to analyse the structure and essence of selfhood from the perspective of being-in-the-world. However, in this original work, Steven DeLay, using a wide breadth of philosophical sources, articulates a view of selfhood which emphasizes humanity’s ineluctable experience before-God. The work presents an original view of the relationship between philosophy and theology, namely that there is no distinction between the two.
1. Divine Things and the Fluidity of Thought / 2. The Interlacement of Self and God / 3.What is the Problem of Intersubjectivity? / 4. Forgiveness / 5. Making Peace / 6. A Sketch of Silence and Evil / 7. Suffering and Salvation: A Note on Art / 8. The Light that Lights Every Man
Steven DeLay is a philosopher living in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. He is the author of Phenomenology in France: A Philosophical and Theological Introduction (Routledge: 2019) and an Old Member of Christ Church, University of Oxford, UK.
The preposition “before”, coram in the Latin, has had a distinguished intellectual history since Luther discovered its importance in Jerome’s translation of the Bible. Steven DeLay comes after many theologians and philosophers who have described what man is “before God” — and who have done so because they found it fruitless to speak of man as he “is”, substantially and before all relation. This clear and precise book summarizes a long episode. An original contribution to philosophy, it also brings noteworthy precisions.
Henry David Thoreau once wrote that “there are nowadays professors of philosophy, but no philosophers.” In this brief claim, Thoreau challenges the hyper-professionalization of a discourse in which far too many scholars write books about what someone else has said, but rarely write books actually saying something worth hearing. Steven DeLay is a striking and exciting counter to this trend. In the very best sense of the term: DeLay is a philosopher in that he is devoted to a life in which he sees his task as in line with Thoreau’s description: “to love wisdom and to live according to its dictates.” In this strikingly original account, he offers a constructive vision of philosophy as religiously implicated. Far from simply being a book “about” philosophers and theologians, Before God itself stands as an “exercise” in thinking and living well. Ultimately, whether one offers “amens” or criticisms in response, DeLay invites us all to rethink our assumptions about God, others, and ourselves.