Levinas establishes an intriguing connection between idolatry and ontology. This connection is aptly illustrated by the biblical character of Balaam, the ambiguous Mesopotamian prophet or sorcerer of Numbers 22-24, who is almost never mentioned in Levinas's work but who is present, albeit hidden, in the talmudic reading "Contempt for the Torah as Idolatry." A deconstruction of this talmudic reading uncovers Balaam's footprints. It also clarifies different meanings of idolatry-exposing its ontological violence, but also, perhaps, its necessity for ethics and law.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies
- Religious studies
- Sociology and Political Science
- Literature and Literary Theory