An extraordinarily difficult question facing those of us who are committed to a new theology is quite simply the question of language and style, how do we think and write in that new language which is now demanded, is this even an actual possibility for us?  It was with Mark Taylor that I seemed to share this question most fully, at his invitation I spent a year as a visiting professor at Williams College, and it was then that we most deeply shared our work.  Many theologians have pointed to Taylor as one who has clearly abandoned theology, and this even in response to his Erring, but then and now I judge this to be a genuinely theological work, and it is most creative precisely in its new language.  While there is much here that is deeply alien to me, there is much that I also deeply share, and while I cannot share his present focus upon virtual reality, I can see the necessity of a comparable transmutation of my own work, and this is one that to some extent has already occurred.  It was at Williams that I completed the chapter on Joyce in History and Apocalypse, I continue to believe that the language of Finnegans Wake is the fullest embodiment of a new theological language, and nothing has more gratified me in response to my writing than when Norman O. Brown wrote me that here at last the theology of the Wake had been understood.  Recognizing, however, that I am not and cannot be a full writer, I have been forced into partial resolutions, resolutions not only calling upon the reader to enact what is read, but accepting this very limitation as a necessity for genuine theology, which unlike poetry and philosophy cannot be the product of a single creator, and is itself only truly textual in a fully communal context and world.

 Of course, a deep problem is just what is that world in which theology is now spoken, I join innumerable theologians in believing that this can no longer be only a church or a religious institution, and never before has there been a deeper chasm between religious institutions and the world, thus foreclosing the possibility of a church theology that could be a theology for the world, or a church theology that could be anything but a sectarian theology.  Catholicism may finally be an exception to this, but not in the foreseeable future, or in any future in genuine continuity with our world.  The paradigm that I have chosen for meeting this problem derives from my understanding of the Christian epic tradition, a tradition in which the Christian vision itself is profoundly transformed, and transformed by a purely inner evolution, one deeply incarnational and deeply apocalyptic at once, indeed, an ultimate apocalyptic movement that is inescapably an incarnational movement, a movement that we now know was most distinctive of an original Christianity and of Jesus himself.  Nothing more shocks me about New Testament scholarship than its dominant judgment that both Jesus and primitive Christianity were truly and deeply apocalyptic with its common corollary that apocalypticism is truly alien to our world.  More accurately stated, apocalypticism is truly alien to our dominant religious world, whereas it is truly central in the deepest or most radical expressions of our political, our conceptual, and our imaginative life, as witness not only the Christian epic, but modern dialectical thinking itself, which has been deeply apocalyptic, whether implicitly or explicitly, in Hegel, Kierkegaard, Marx, and Nietzsche.

 True, both Blake and Joyce are profoundly heterodox, but Dante and Milton were deeply heterodox in their own worlds, and if it is possible to see that the visions of Joyce and Blake evolved out of the visions of Milton and Dante, and if this evolution is a truly apocalyptic evolution, then we are here given a way into a truly new theological language, and a new theological language which could be a rebirth or renewal of Biblical language, as certainly occurs in Dante and Milton, and which also occurs in Blake and Joyce.  Indeed, if only through the Christian epic we can sense the possibility of a systematic theology going vastly beyond anything previously known as systematic theology, and just as the Commedia is vastly more comprehensive than the Summa Theologica, and Paradise Lost truly more comprehensive than any Protestant dogmatics, the possibilities have been established for us of a truly comprehensive theology, and one that is already present in the epic visions of Blake and Joyce.  This is a calling going far beyond the power of this theologian, but it is a calling that could be exercised communally, and if theology truly is a communal activity, and one directed to the whole world of its horizon, then such a calling if not being truly exercised today, may nevertheless be arising or aborning in our world, and even if this is an invisible birthing, it could nevertheless be actual and real.

 Such at least has been my deep hope, and I have long sought an apparently non-theological reader or hearer, believing that theology is a truly universal calling, and just as it often occurs where it is least apparent, here the overt theologian incurs a deep debt.  Debt in its depth is overtly theological, and if our deepest debt is to God, this very debt is inexplicable today as it has never previously been, yet we can know deep debt as a deep gift, and a deep gift making inexplicably possible a deep life.  Here, genesis itself becomes an overwhelming problem, and I became possessed by the theological problem of understanding true genesis as an apocalyptic genesis, as the actual advent of an absolutely new world, but a new world occurring only through an apocalyptic death, an apocalyptic death which is absolute genesis itself.  This is the problem broached by Genesis and Apocalypse, a book seeking a new theological language, but a new theological language which is an apocalyptic language, and thus a language directed against all existing theological language, or all existing manifest theological language, which is clearly a non-apocalyptic language, hence it is alienated from the prophetic and apocalyptic language of the Bible.  Here, I was under a deep debt to recent Biblical scholarship, which has shattered every given theological distinction between the eschatological and the apocalyptic, and thereby shattered every Biblical claim of modern Christian theology.

 Of course, Genesis and Apocalypse is also deeply indebted to Buddhism, and while the Buddhologist can truly know this book as an irresponsible exegesis of Buddhism, a Buddhist horizon makes possible this apocalyptic understanding, and above all so a Buddhist understanding of an absolute nothingness or an absolute void, apart from which apocalypse itself is a meaningless surd, which is at least one reason why theologians have been unable to understand apocalypse.  But so, too, has an absolute nothingness been a deep ground of modernity itself, as fully manifest in our deepest modern poetry, and even in truly crucial expressions of our deepest modern thinking, and this is true not only of Hegel, Schelling, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, but of Kierkegaard, too, and even of that Kierkegaard who has had the deepest impact upon modern theology.  This is the very point at which the Kyoto School has been able to create a truly ecumenical Buddhist philosophy, one drawing forth a uniquely Western absolute nothingness as a decisive way into a uniquely Buddhist absolute nothingness, so that here an Eckhart, a Hegel, a Nietzsche, a Heidegger, and even a Kirkegaard, can truly be ways into Buddhism, and into a universal Buddhism.  Note that here Buddhist thinking is far more universal than any form of Christian thinking, and it can take as its ground a uniquely modern Angst, or a uniquely modern nothingness, allowing that very ground to open to the depths of a uniquely Buddhist apocalypse.

 Certainly I was profoundly affected by these Buddhist thinkers, here is a pure theology, and a pure theology which is a universal theology, even employing the death of God in the Crucifixion as a way to a uniquely Buddhist Emptiness, and this was the very point at which the deepest dialogue occurred between my Buddhist friends and myself.  Yes, I have attempted to evolve a Buddhist Christian theology, but this was previously accomplished by Nishida and the Kyoto School, and there are ways in which my theology is a reflection of theirs, just as it is also a reflection, even if a pale one, of our deepest Western masters of an absolute nothingness.  Nihilism itself realizes a truly new meaning here, and a truly holy meaning, and just as an apophatic mysticism can know Godhead itself as an absolute nothingness, and therefore know an absolute nothingness as an absolutely holy nothingness, our deepest modern visionaries have called forth an absolute nothingness which is a holy nothingness, and holy precisely as that nothingness itself.  At no other point is there a deeper coincidence between the ancient and the modern, or between the sacred and the profane, and even if full modernity is an absolute reversal of a sacred totality, it is that modernity only by way of this reversal, and therefore only by way of what is symbolically called forth as the death of God.  Yes, the death of God is by necessity a renewal or resurrection of an absolute nothingness, thus nihilism inevitably follows in its wake, but now and for the first time nihilism is established as a universal horizon, and one which is actually known by everyone who is now awake.

 Nihilism has been most actual and concrete for us in the Holocaust, and it was by calling forth the Holocaust as an irrefutable witness to the death of God that Richard Rubenstein had an overwhelming impact as a radical Jewish theologian, and Rubenstein did not hesitate to insist that any genuine understanding of providence must now accept the Holocaust as occurring within the providence of God, this is just why he rejected any and every theistic God, and sought a holy nothingness that can only be found within a primordial horizon.  Is this just the point at which there is an uncrossable gulf between a primordial horizon and our contemporary horizon, or is a holy nothingness present in our world, and even in the depths of our nihilism itself?  The Holocaust is an inescapable challenge here, and if we can know it as the most horrible historical event which has ever occurred, is it just thereby a refutation of any possible providence, or of any possible providence in our world?  And is the Holocaust itself a decisive witness to what we can only know as a full epiphany of Satan, a full embodiment of an absolute evil, and an absolute evil that is here truly incarnate?  How is it possible that in the wake of the Holocaust there has been virtually no theological naming of Satan, is this because our deepest voice has been stilled, has been numbed into a truly new passivity and impotence?

 Ever increasingly I became convinced that if we cannot actually name Satan then we cannot actually name Christ, this is a dialectical naming that not only deeply occurs in the New Testament, but is unique to the New Testament, except insofar as it is reborn in a uniquely Christian vision, and here, too, the Christian epic tradition is in deeper continuity with the New Testament than any other writing which we have been given.  Indeed, Blakes epic vision culminates in a coincidentia oppositorum between Christ and Satan, yet Blakes Satan is an absolutely alien or absolutely fallen Creator, that very Creator who is the absolute sovereignty of God, and who is truly the Lord of a totally fallen history.  Here, one can know the Holocaust as the consequence of the providence of God, but for Blake pure evil is an absolutely atoning evil, one inseparable from what he knew as the Self Annihilation of God, and a self-annihilation occurring most deeply in the passion and death of Christ.  So far as I know I am the only theologian who has attempted a theological incorporation of Blakes vision, and this is just the point at which this is most difficult and most challenging, can we understand the actuality of absolute evil as inevitably being an atoning process, or is this far too blasphemous a possibility to contemplate?  Yet is it possible to be open to the Holocaust and to refuse this question?  Or is the only possible response quite simply silence itself?

 The truth is that our philosophy has always responded to evil with a deep silence, one which is not broken until Kant, Hegel, Schelling, and Nietzsche, although such a silence has been renewed in the philosophical thinking of the twentieth century, so likewise our theology has finally known evil as nothingness itself, and not an absolute nothingness but rather a pure and simple nothingness, a nothingness which is the privation of the good.  Is it possible to know the Holocaust as such a nothingness?  Surely this would be a truly blasphemous response, for it would be a denial of the absolute evil of the Holocaust, and thereby a denial of absolute evil itself, and if we cannot know an absolute evil how could we possibly know the Holocaust itself?  Yet we cannot know an absolute evil without naming Satan, and we must recall that an actual naming of Satan did not occur until the advent of apocalypticism, and just as an apocalyptic naming of Satan has always been our deepest naming of Satan, this does not come to an end with the advent of the modern world, it far rather deepens with that very advent, as witness Milton, nor does it come to an end in late modernity, as witness Joyce.  All too significantly Finnegans Wake was completed just before the Holocaust occurred, and while the Wake is our most comprehensive drawing forth of Satan, it ends with a total and an apocalyptic Yes, and with an apocalypse that can be understood as a coincidentia oppositorum of Christ and Satan.  Is this not a way into the Holocaust itself?

 One of my deep friends with whom I most deeply discussed the theological meaning of the Holocaust is Edith Wyschogrod, while Edith is professionally a philosopher she is a theologian, too, and her philosophical work has never been truly isolated from her theological thinking, as witness her long immersion in and even identification with Levinas, that one major twentieth century philosopher who has fully thought about God or the Infinite, and whose thinking about God is a deeply Jewish or aniconic thinking, and one which Edith has extended into truly new arenas in her understanding of alterity.  I think that this understanding is only possible by way of the Holocaust, and certainly no other American thinker has thought more purely about the Holocaust, one almost senses that apart from the Holocaust she could not truly think.  And is it truly possible in our world to actually think about God without thinking of the Holocaust?  There are those who think or suspect that it is the Holocaust which has finally made possible an unthinking of God, but this is certainly not true of either Levinas or Wyschogrod, it is far rather that the Holocaust has here finally made possible a thinking of the absolute altarity of God, and it cannot be denied that it was either a pre-Holocaust or a post-Holocaust situation which made possible our deepest modern Jewish thinking.  This very thinking is overwhelming in its sheer power, and for the first time Jewish thinking has become a virtually universal thinking through the impact of Buber, Levinas, and Derrida, and while this thinking can be understood as an inversion of Christian theological thinking, that is surely at least one source of its very power as thinking.

 Levinas is the only twentieth century philosopher who has written seriously about evil, and that fact itself is important, is it only the Holocaust that makes possible for us a thinking about evil, and is our very inability to think about evil a decisive sign of our deep passivity and impotence, a passivity which our first great modern Jewish thinker, Spinoza, could know even if he could not name as pure evil, and a passivity which seemed to possess the German people at the time of the Holocaust?  Oddly enough it was during this period that I first began seriously thinking about Spinoza, I wonder if it was wrestling with the Holocaust which made this possible, and it is above all Spinozas understanding of God which would appear here to be a decisive key, a God whose very totality comprehends everything whatsoever, and yet a God who is pure action or pure activity, an absolute necessity which is the source of all and everything.  Spinoza claimed to forswear all thinking about evil, but he nevertheless thought about evil in thinking a pure passivity, and if that passivity must inevitably here be understood as the very opposite of God, it is nonetheless one that possesses the great majority of humanity, and Spinoza could even understand it as the very source of every philosophical understanding of teleology or final causation.  Spinoza was the first philosophical thinker who unthought that teleology, one inseparable from his negation or dissolution of subject or interiority, and this very dissolution was a deep philosophical thinking of God, and as such the first philosophical negation of what Heidegger came to understand as ontotheology.

 This was accomplished far more purely by Spinoza than by Heidegger, perhaps it is only possible for the Jewish thinker, hence it is reborn in both Levinas and Derrida, but now reborn in response to the Holocaust, and one can never lose sight of the Holocaust in reading either Levinas or Derrida, just as we also should never lose sight of it in reading any theology today.  Is it only through the Holocaust that we can know the true altarity of God, and is that an altarity truly different from what Christian theology has traditionally known as the pure transcendence of God, an altarity that cannot be known as theology has known transcendence, and cannot be so known if only because here it is not possible to know God at all?  There is certainly a deep aniconic ground in the Jew which is alien to the Christian, a ground precluding any possibility of incarnation, and just as the Jewish Messiah is deeply different from the Christian Messiah, a Messiah who could never be the Son of God, the Jewish apocalypse is radically different from the Christian apocalypse, and is so if only because it could never actually be envisioned, and all too significantly rabbinic Judaism was only truly born with a full negation of apocalyptic Judaism.

 Nevertheless, the Jew can respond to the Holocaust as an apocalyptic event, but it is an apocalypse of absolute evil, or what the Christian must inevitably identify as a Satanic apocalypse, and just as it is only the Christian who can know the Jew as the murderer of God, and who for two millennia did know the Jew as the murderer of God, so the Christian must know the Holocaust as a Satanic apocalypse only made possible by Christianity.  Every Jew knows this, and every Christian should know it, but that must finally mean that it is the Christian God who is a deep source of the Holocaust, and the uniquely Christian God, a God known to the Christian alone, that God whom both Kierkegaard and Nietzsche could know as an absolute No-saying, and that God whom Blake could name as Satan.  Now even if the conservative theologian would respond by affirming that it is only the Christian Gnostic who can know God as Satan, no one has been so deeply anti-Gnostic as are Blake and Nietzsche.  Barth himself, in what is perhaps the deepest section of the Church Dogmatics (II, 2) has affirmed that the specific service for which Israel is determined by God is to reflect the judgment from which God has rescued man, and over against the witness of the Church it can set forth only the sheer, stark judgment of God, only the obduracy and consequent misery of man, only the sentence and punishment that God in His mercy has chosen to undergo Himself, and the Church stands in the same relation to Israel as does the resurrection of Jesus to his crucifixion, as Gods mercy to His judgment.  This section of Barths dogmatics was written at the very time that the Holocaust was occurring, and while Barth himself was a genuine and active anti-Nazi, we can see even in his deepest theology a Christian ground for the Holocaust itself.

 Indeed, Barths famous calling forth of that ultimate sin which is manifest in the betrayal of Judas Iscariot (II, 2, 35, 4) largely revolves about a portrait of the betrayal of Israel, it is here that Barth most fully portrays Satan, and here that we learn that Judas does what Israel has always done in relation to Yahweh, for Israel always tried to buy off Yahweh with thirty pieces of silver, and Judas is not only all Israel, but in and with him the Jews as such!  The end of Judaism occurred when Judas handed Jesus over, and with the killing of the Messiah, Israel entered a road on which not only is Gods judgment upon its whole existence inevitable, but in sheer self-consistency it must end by committing suicide (page 470), and while this occurred in its revolt against the Romans, this is a death which is not an expiation for its sins but only their consummation.  Barth then affirms, in this volume on election or predestination, that in the New Testament the divine determination of the damned or rejected is unambiguously clear, and especially in the person and act of Judas.  Yet Barth is finally the radical Barth, and is so here by affirming that Judas is the holy apostle, holy in the old meaning of the term, one who is cursed, and the elect always occupy the place of what was originally occupied by the rejected.  And God in His burning wrath does to men what Judas did to Jesus, He takes their freedom from them and makes them totally powerless, just as God Himself is the One who hands over Jesus, and it was the divine omnipotence of which Jesus let himself be robbed, and did so by means of Judas.  Nevertheless, Judas, in his concentrated attack upon Israels Messiah, does only what the elect people of Israel had always done towards its God, and in Judas there lives again all the great rejected of the Old Testament, a people who is elected in and from its rejection, and in view of the act of Judas there can be no further doubt about the rejection of this people, and the rejection of all those individuals within it.  Yet Jesus Christ also dies for rejected Israel, and therefore even rejected Israel is always in the open, and the question of its future can never be put except in this situation.

 Barths theology is the most influential theology of our century, and while no one would lay the Holocaust upon Barths hands, how could one deny that it is just this kind of thinking that could open the possibility of the Holocaust?  There are orthodox Jewish theologians who maintain that the Holocaust was Gods just judgment upon the Jews modern apostasy, but there are few if any Christian theologians who now affirm that the Holocaust occurred through the providence of God, and this despite the fact that orthodox theology has always affirmed that God is finally the source of every event, a denial of which would be a denial of the absolute sovereignty of God.  As a theologian who was in process of becoming a full theologian of predestination, it was just while I was struggling with the theological challenge of the Holocaust that I most fully came to understand predestination, and just as in classical Western theology predestination is a double predestination, a simultaneous predestination to Heaven and to Hell, I came to understand providence itself as a double predestination, and one eternally willed by God.  This is most clearly manifest in the Holocaust if the Holocaust is finally an atoning event, and just as the Christian has come to look upon the martyrs of the Holocaust as holy or atoning martyrs, martyrs repeating or renewing the Crucifixion itself, then just as the Crucifixion can be known by the Christian as that ultimate victory of Satan which is finally the apocalyptic ending of Satan, the Holocaust could be understood as a comparable event, although now an apocalyptic ending is the ending of our world.  But how to speak of this in and to a world which had lost all sense of damnation and Satan, and paradoxically so given the Holocaust itself, even Barth is all too muted in speaking of Satan and Hell, and while he deeply affirms that because of the Crucifixion damnation has become objectively impossible for all, this is the one point at which he clearly abandons a traditional Protestant dogmatics, and abandons  ancient Christianity as well.  How is that possible for an orthodox theologian, or possible for that Barth who knows the absolute judgment of God more deeply than any other theologian since Augustine, or that dialectical Barth who knows Gods Yes only through Gods No?  Is this not a profound inconsistency, and while Barth does affirm that there does exist a definite sphere of damnation ordained by God as the negation of the divine affirmation, that is the work of the almighty non-willing which accompanies Gods willing, for if Jesus Christ is the very Yes of God, that Yes cannot be heard unless the No of God is also heard, but that No is said for the sake of the Yes, and therefore the first and last word of God is Yes and not No.  Nevertheless, the No of God is inseparable from the Yes of God, or inseparable for us, and surely we can hear the No of God in the Holocaust itself, for to refuse that No would be to refuse the Holocaust, and to refuse the Holocaust as the embodiment of an absolute evil.

 And how is it possible for the Christian to speak of an absolute evil without speaking of God, this would be to succumb to a Manichean or Gnostic temptation, one that has ever tempted the Christian theologian, and perhaps never more so than today.  Augustine established the deepest foundations of Western theology by overcoming that temptation, and if it was Augustine who established the very dogma of predestination, that dogma is inseparable from everything that he most deeply understood as freedom and grace, and just as Augustine was the philosophical discoverer of the freedom of the will, that is a discovery inseparable from a discovery of the absolute impotence of the will, one that can only be broken by the grace of God, and by that grace of God which is the grace of predestination.  Augustine was the first theologian to know that the absolute Yes and the absolute No of God are inseparable, it is this simultaneity which is most deeply called forth by the dogma of predestination, so that eternal redemption and eternal damnation are inseparable, and this is a simultaneity even interiorly known by us when we simultaneously know the freedom and the impotence of the will.  Augustine has ever been my deepest theological master, and once I realized that it was impossible to be an Augustinian theologian without being a theologian of predestination, I also realized that redemption is wholly unreal apart from damnation, and just as Barth could know the rejection or damnation of Christ as the source of redemption, an understanding which is his understanding of election or predestination, I became persuaded that it is only in knowing the depths of darkness or damnation that we can know redemption, and nowhere is that darkness more manifest to us than in the Holocaust.

 Perhaps the supreme theological problem is the problem or mystery of the meaning of an ultimate and absolute Yes, if this is the very center of every genuine faith, it has never been so obscure and precarious as it is today, and this despite the fact that the enactment of such a Yes is so absolutely primary in our uniquely modern visionary voyages, one that finally can occur even in its seemingly total absence, as in Kafka and Beckett, and one that remains absolutely primary in even our deepest atheism, as in Marx and Nietzsche.  This is just the point at which modern theological apologetics has wholly broken down, for in full modernity an absolute Yes has been far deeper and purer in our secular world than in our religious world, and theologically it has been most powerful in that Barth who cannot pronounce the Yes of God without pronouncing the No of God.  At this point Barth is in deep continuity with that Nietzsche who so totally conjoined Yes-saying and No-saying, and if Nietzsches vision of Eternal Recurrence is a uniquely modern vision of predestination, as I attempt to demonstrate in Genesis and Apocalypse, no thinker has ever pronounced an absolute Yes more totally than did Nietzsche, but this is a Yes that can only be willed or enacted when we will the eternal recurrence of everything that has occurred.  Nietzsche did not hesitate to demand the willing of the deepest evil in the willing of eternal recurrence, only such a willing could be the willing of actuality itself, and unlike an ancient amor fati, this is not a passive acceptance of the world but a willing of the deepest actuality of the world.  That is the very will which is absolute Will itself or the Will to Power, or that will which Augustine knew as the Will of God,  but now it can be manifest and real only through the death of God, or the transformation of an absolute transcendence into an absolute immanence.

 Yet predestination remains itself in that very transformation, which is why I like to say that Augustine is the ancient name of Nietzsche even as Nietzsche is the modern name of Augustine, for predestination is an absolute and eternal willing of Yes and No simultaneously, here the absolute Yes is absolutely unreal apart from the absolute No, so that nothing is a deeper illusion than an absolute Yes which is not an absolute No, or an absolute No which is not an absolute Yes.  Is such an absolute No present in the Holocaust itself, is this an absolute evil which is finally inseparable from an absolute good, is the author of the Holocaust finally that Satan who is inseparable from Christ?  Simply to raise the question of the Holocaust upon the horizon of an absolute Yes is to be open to such questions, or is the Holocaust that one event which has annulled and dissolved every possible Yes, but would not an acceptance of such silence be a genuine victory of Hitler?

 Here, the Christian response to the Holocaust must be profoundly different than any possible response of the Jew, first, because the Christian is deeply responsible for the Holocaust, a responsibility which despite a certain Jewish orthodoxy is surely impossible for the Jew, and, second, the Christian unlike the Jew knows an ultimate redemption which is inseparable from an ultimate death, or an absolute good which is inseparable from an absolute evil.  Just as it might be said that Satan is truly alien to the Jew, the Christian as Christian, or the Christian apart from a modern secularized Christianity, inevitably knows Satan, and knows Satan as the very opposite of Christ, and as that one who is conquered in the Crucifixion.  Hence this opens up a uniquely Christian perspective upon the Holocaust, for if the Christian as Christian is the consequence of an ultimate and apocalyptic ending of Satan, or of the victory of eternal life over eternal death, then this very paradigm could be a way into the Holocaust itself, and into that Holocaust which is an absolute evil, or that Holocaust which is an epiphany of Satan.  Jews often tell Christians that they can taste redemption, hence they know that they are living in an unredeemed world, and never has the Christian more deeply been open to this than in the Holocaust, if only here the Christian can know an absolute evil, and know it as being fully and actually real, and while many Christians say that it is the Holocaust which finally ended Christendom, it more deeply ended every God who can be known as Yes and only Yes, if it did not give us a God who can be known as No and only No.

 But if Satan is truly the Lord of the Holocaust, then Satan is very much alive in our world, and even alive as God, or that God who is No and only No, or who is mysterium tremendum wholly apart from mysterium fascinans, this is the very God whom Buber named in his dialogue with Kafka, and the God whom Blake named as Satan, or the God whom our great American epic named as Moby Dick (and Barth confessed that he primarily learned English so as to be able to read Moby Dick).  If it is the Holocaust which finally shattered every possible conception of evil, if was nevertheless a fulfillment of our deepest images of evil, now an eternal darkness and abyss is truly incarnate, and if this is truly an incarnation, and perhaps the only incarnation which the Jew as Jew can know,  then not only is it an absolute reversal of what the Christian knows as incarnation, but the Christian must become open to the possibility that this is a reversal only made possible by Christ, only made possible by that Word which became flesh, or which has descended into the depths of Hell.  Nothing is more revealing about Christianity than its ever increasing refusal of the Descent into Hell, and this despite the overwhelming power of this motif in the Christian imagination, yet if the Christian must believe that Christ is present in the Holocaust that could only be by way of a descent into Hell, that very Hell which Barth at the time of the Holocaust could declare is objectively impossible for all,  yet the Christian knows the descent into Hell as a final consequence of the crucifixion itself, only in Hell does a final victory ultimately occur, and apart from that victory every other victory must finally be an illusion.

 So it is that eternal death is just as essential for the Christian as is eternal life, this deep Christian truth is first theologically formulated by Paul, thence it was reborn in both Augustine and Luther, and even reborn in Nietzsche himself, our deepest atheist, and yet our deepest enactor of an absolute Yes.  Is it possible that this Yes or any Yes could be said to the Holocaust?  And, if not, can an absolute and eternal Yes ever be said again?  Or is it the deepest mystery of the Holocaust that here an absolute No is finally an absolute Yes?  If such a Yes cannot be pronounced then finally our history is an absolute No, and even if it is history itself which comes to an end in the Holocaust, is that an ending which is finally a No and only a No, and hence a final epiphany of what the Christian knows as Satan?  That would be a true and final reversal of crucifixion, and of incarnation itself, an apocalypse which is only a Satanic apocalypse, or an apocalypse of eternal darkness alone, and even if this is the apocalypse which is now most commonly called forth, is that the only apocalypse which now can be truly or actually named?  Has Christianity not only finally ended, but in that very ending absolutely reversed itself, or is this very ending finally a Christian reversal, and a Christian reversal of Christianity itself?  These are ultimate questions which are inescapable for the Christian today, and it could be that the very ultimacy and mystery of our contemporary theological questions are a deep source of the apparent dissolution of theology today, and if these are questions which we cannot meet, is a deep passivity our only destiny today?


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