The French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil (1909-1943) thinks of human existence as a cruciform existence. The topos of the cross does not form a simple object of her thought rather it turns out to be the very subject from which world and history must be read. In my dissertation I examine the biblical roots of Weilian thought in the New Testament theologies of the cross, particularly in Paul. Artistically and performatively Weil’s written testimonies create intercultural superimpositions of biblical sources and philosophy, literature, and mythology, arranged to reveal contradictions, fractures, and voids. As far as possible, I consider Weil’s handwritten originals, which beyond their outstanding content can be regarded as artistic visual works of art. A combined approach will be used that draws on methods and concepts of literary criticism, especially reception studies, philosophy, systematic theology and biblical criticism. Firstly, a material and contextual analysis of Simone Weil’s entire oeuvre, complemented by archival research, provides a typology of the multiple New Testament theologies of the cross Weil received and appropriated within her thought. Additionally, the argumentative location, function and interrelation of these passages within Weil’s oeuvre are clarified. Secondly, an in-depth biblical scholarly examination is carried out, discussing contemporary disputes and discourses within bible studies regarding the New Testament passages in question. Thirdly, the correlation of findings discloses discrepancies and/or overlappings. With these three steps the project draws nuanced conclusions about the processes of biblical reception in late modernity. With its results it intends to contribute to an innovative reception history of the New Testament with the case study of a female contributor in early 20th century France. Simone Weil’s specific form, methods and performance of reception and appropriation compels contemporary theological debates to depart from fixed imaginaries and interpretations of the cross, enabling new paths, especially within traditional concepts of anthropology and soteriology.
Thomas Sojer is a PhD student in Catholic Theology at the IGS Resonant World-Relations. Since 2019 he is fellow at the Titus Brandsma Institute of the Radboud University Nijmegen. Previously he has studied in Heidelberg, Innsbruck and London and worked in research projects by the Flemish Science Fund (on mysticism and politics), by the Austrian Academy of Sciences (on cultural translations), by the Austrian Integration Fund (on Islamic theology), and by the Austrian Science Fund (on mysticism and knowledge).