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The Centrality to the Exodus of Torah as Ethical Projection Vern Neufeld Redekop Saint Paul University, Ontario How can those liberated from oppression avoid mimesis of their oppressors? When confronted with the stark realities of oppression, the question seems inappropriate, audacious, and even insensitive. Yet history teaches us that it is prudent to confront the question sooner rather than later. That this is a preoccupation ofTorah is indicated by the often repeated phrase, "remember that you were slaves in Egypt." In what follows, we will enter the world of the Hebrew Bible to examine the relationship of Torah to the theme of oppression. Our points of entry will be the contemporary gates of liberation theology and Hebrew Bible exegesis. I will argue that Torah as teaching is central to the Exodus, that as teaching it combines awareness of a situation, interpretation of an event, and articulation of practical knowledge. Positively stated, the Exodus paradigm of liberation includes both afreedomfrom oppression and afreedom to enjoy and develop the resources of the land. This paradigm can be explained, in the vocabulary ofPaul Ricoeur, as a transformation of people from sufferers (understood as being acted upon) to actors (being able to take initiative). As such, it addresses the essential question, "How is a liberated people to act?" Torah answers this question through story and stipulation. Its teaching is both indirect and direct. The Exodus concerns not only the flight from Egypt into the promised land, but also the question of how a people is to live in that land. The central ethical projection to allow for sustained life in the new land is the focus of my investigation. I will examine its meaning in relation to the structure of the text, demonstrate why it affords a view of Torah as an essential gift to guide the life of freedom, and explore its implications for 120Vern Neufeld Redekop Girardian scholars and for those currently engaged in the struggle for, and challenges resulting from, liberation from oppression. Such an investigation, which involves textual questions as well as human action, must take into account specific methodologies and an awareness of ethics. It also presupposes a particular purpose and perspective on the part of the investigator. Since the present world situation provides an urgent background for this study, I begin, in part one, with observations about oppression in the 'current context', followed by a discussion of the relation of my own approach to the various methodologies which attempt to understand that context in the light of the phenomenon of liberation from oppression. In part two, I draw on the work of Paul Ricoeur to define my use of the term "ethical projection" and to propose a category for the role of temporality in a structural analysis. Part three elaborates the concepts of meaning and structure as developed by the disciplines of biblical studies, liberation theology, and ethics. I then focus on the use of the Exodus paradigm by liberation movements to legitimate their straggles for freedom, and suggest possible implications of the present study for our contemporary world situation. Part four explores the centrality of the ethical projection in the Exodus along three lines of inquiry: the structure of the Exodus as narrative, event, and paradigm; the sense ofprojection into a future; and the interpretation of Torah within the Hebrew Bible. This leads to the establishment of a category for an ethical projection and to the proposal of a particular type of ethical projection which can be derived from a liberation from oppression: the ethic of memory. In my conclusion, I suggest potential implications of the ethical projection for a Girardian hermeneutic and for those who—through their awareness of mimetic desire and scapegoating, and their interpretation of events based on such awareness—are in a position to generate practical knowledge which could limit the effects of negative mimesis and scapegoating. 1. Current context and methodology The current context involves an interaction between a world riddled with oppressive situations and our own Sitz im Leben. Given the diversity of those situations, most people can find ways in which they are part of both an oppressed group and an oppressor group. Theologian Sharon Welch, for example, sees herself...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1930-1200
Print ISSN
1075-7201
Pages
pp. 119-144
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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