Covenant, Promise, and the Gift of Time

Document Type: Research Paper


University of Glasgow, United Kingdom


If we categorize religions according to whether they give greater prominence to time or to space, the role of “promise” marks a religion of covenant as clearly a religion of time. Yet the future is unknowable and can only be present to us as a field of possibilities. How far do these possibilities extend? The question directs us back to the nature of time, a question that became concealed in the course of Western philosophical development or that was answered in terms of time's nullity. Modern philosophy (Levinas) has, however, pointed to the inseparability of time, language, and responsibility, thereby giving to time a positive content in terms of the ethical responsibility that, before God, we have for one another.



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