Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Francis F. Seeburger, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Naomi Reshotko

Third Advisor

Edward P. Antonio


Belief, Heidegger, Imagination, Reading, Sartre, Wittgenstein


Reading religious literature is generally considered to be either an "outsider's" practice useful for the determination of a culture's or individual reader's beliefs, whether of the past or present, or an "insider's" practice necessary for guidance in morality and "right" action. Both of these practices mean the text is construed as the motivation or cause of other beliefs and actions, and that the purpose or value of such texts is nothing more than identifying and promulgating certain beliefs. Understanding texts and reading in this way does not allow us to conceive of the text as a work of art and perceive the reader's own self-structuring through engaging this art. An alternative notion of reading can help us to conceive of the self as a work of art whose growth depends on encountering and engaging another's artistry, in this case, the religious text. Through the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein and Martin Heidegger, and to a lesser degree that of Jean-Paul Sartre, this dissertation proposes reading itself to be an imaginative process that illuminates the self and its relationship with others. As part of that imaginative activity, the concepts of truth and the self are also re-thought and dislocated from the subject-object framework that dominates much of contemporary thinking. The practice of reading is therefore best seen not as a search for truths or beliefs "embedded" in the text, but a communication with others that proves the self to be in a constant state of becoming, an artistic process most human in its resistance to perfectability.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Philip G. Banning


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

313 p.


Philosophy of Religion, Philosophy, Language