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A Dialogue of Difference: Y. Leibowitz in Conversation with M. Dubois on Judaism and Christianity

A small interview about this article was posted here

Why do you find the reading of Liebowitz’s affect, beyond the interview transcript, so significant?

In 1916, Ferdinand de Saussure criticized an ingrained misconception of spoken language and derided linguists who focus on written texts: “It is rather as if people believed that to find out what a person looks like, it is better to study his photograph than his face.” Indeed, the performative event, bodily gestures, intonation, and tempo all have significant semiotic value. A close reading of a video presentation allows one to notice gaps between what is being said and how it is being said, a gap that cannot be deduced from a written transcript. [NOTE: Scroll down to view a video excerpt.]

What do you think those interested in interfaith dialogue — as advocates or critics — can learn from the encounter between Leibowitz and Dubois?

The dialogue between Leibowitz and Dubois is a fascinating case of two people engaged in dialogue with different aims in mind. Perhaps “dialogue of difference” can offer advocates of interfaith dialogue a new notion of “anti-dialogue” that can refresh their activity. For critics of interfaith dialogue, a “dialogue of difference” can serve as a more enticing form of interfaith communication scheme because it focuses on defining what is different rather than bridging theological or normative gaps.

How did you get interested in the topic?

As a student of modern Jewish thought, I have dealt extensively with the Jewish-Christian dialogue since Vatican II. I am also engaged in offering hermeneutical tools for reading audio and audio-visual texts in the contexts of modern and contemporary thought and philosophy. Thus, I employed my methodology on the filmed Lebowitz-Dubois exchange and offered a new formulation of Leibowitz’s theory of dialogue.


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