A Response to S. N. Balagangadhara’s “Translation, Interpretation and Culture”

Francis X. Clooney

Abstract


S. N. Balagangadhara wrote an essay entitled, “Translation, Interpretation and Culture: On the Disingenuity of a Comparative Theology,” which appeared in this journal in 2014. In it, Balagangadhara defends his theory of translation and supports that theory by deconstructing the field of comparative theology, which he finds unreflective and unsophisticated, at best. The tool of that deconstruction is a sharply critical assessment of several sections of my 2010 Comparative Theology. That book, meant to introduce readers to the field even while not being itself a work of comparative theological practice, draws on my other, earlier books, none of which Balagangadhara seems to have read. Given Balagangadhara’s sharply negative judgment on my work —assessing it to be fruitless, disingenuous, dissimulating, dishonest—I feel it necessary to respond to his essay, and I am grateful to Canadian Social Science for the opportunity to write this brief reply. I will first note some of his criticisms and respond to them. I then comment on what appears to be most crucial to Balagangadhara, his own theoretical reflections on translation at the start of the essay; I will note too how his comments on my work turn out to serve as a foil to his own theorizing, perhaps as a warning to those who do not work out their translation theory first. Finally, I comment briefly on the third, constructive part of his essay, with its unexpected reference to the 1960s reforming Council of the Catholic Church, Vatican II, and the intriguing notion that Balagangadhara might make a constructive contribution to post-Vatican II attitudes toward the diversity of religions.


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References


Clooney, F. X. (2001). Hindu God, Christian God: How reasons help break down the barriers between religions. Oxford University Press.

Sebastian, J. J. (2008). The Truth, the Way, the Life: Christian commentary on the three holy mantras of the Srivaisnava Hindus. Peeters Publishing.




DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3968/8790

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