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A genealogy of monotheism: Of secrets, substitutes and supplements

Nolton, Marnie Anne (2019) A genealogy of monotheism: Of secrets, substitutes and supplements. Masters by Research thesis, Murdoch University.

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Jacques Derrida has noted of God that “God contradicts himself already ... only that which is written gives … [God] … existence by naming … [God]. It is simultaneously true that things come into existence and lose existence by being named” (Derrida 1978a: 70). Naming God can lose God. This is a significant insight for examinations of monotheism, drawing attention to its irrecusable contradictions, paradoxes and constitutive aporias. The significance of this insight is heightened when a second recognition is made regarding monotheism’s own discursive practices of exclusion and displacement, practices that are conventionally based on and legitimated by a narrative of presence. Together these points act to frame this dissertation insofar as they open the question as to their possible reconciliation.

In this dissertation, then, I argue that Derrida’s deconstructive notion of supplementarity can support a genealogical analysis of this problematic informing traditional conceptions of God as the One and Only. God and monotheism – as I will demonstrate – are irrecusably haunted by their supplementarity. Hence, in this dissertation, via a genealogical analysis and close textual readings, I trace the supplementarity already present in the Hebrew Bible as well as in the theo-political, historical, theological and philosophical discourses that underpin and comprise the problematic of monotheism. Following Foucault’s and Derrida’s insights that analysis also facilitates a rethinking or an experiment, I conclude this work by sketching the outlines toward what could be called a deconstructed ethical monotheism. I name this thinking stance towards reconciliation of a One and Only thinking – a return to exile.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters by Research)
Supervisor(s): Trees, Kathryn and Trotter, James
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