The conference aims at fostering two main sets of problems.  One set of queries
focuses on Levinas's references to biblical figures, and raises questions about the
role these figures play in Levinas's philosophy.  In this context the conference will
question whether the biblical figures function merely as a rhetorical and literary device,
as illustrations of Levinas's ideas, or perhaps they have a deeper philosophical
function that contributes to Levinas's project in general.  The conference will also
discuss if Levinas's references to biblical figures work in his philosophy in a way that
other literary figures are incapable of, and how do these references comply with his
conflicted attitude towards literature.  

The second set of questions stems from adopting a Levinasian perspective in order
to interpret the actions and stories of biblical figures that are not necessarily
discussed by Levinas himself.  This will lead to questions such as:  Does Levinas's
thought open up a unique way for understanding biblical figures and their stories?  
What is the relation between Levinas's interpretation and the traditional midrash?  
Does a Levinasian reading contribute to the tradition of midrashim and exegesis
revealing ways to enhance and enrich these interpretations?  Can Levinas's thought
be used for the purpose of offering a new voice by producing new exegeses?  

These questions will set up the background for a broader discussion of the relation
between the two main traditions that have influenced Levinas's thought – philosophy
and Judaism, and for the examination of the intersection between philosophy,
Judaism, and literature.  It is a known fact that both the Greek (i.e. philosophical)
tradition and the Jewish heritage play a central role in the thought of Levinas.  Levinas
adopts a different language in his philosophical works and in his Jewish writings, and
insists on separating between the two, even to the point of publishing them with
different publishers.  

Yet, we cannot ignore the interrelations between the two heritages.  Levinas himself
has claimed that his project actually consists of the translation of Hebrew to Greek;
that is, articulating the ethics of the bible by using the language of philosophy.  The
examination of the links between Levinas's philosophy and the stories of a variety of
biblical figures will serve both as a channel for exploring the ways in which the Jewish
and philosophical traditions interrelate within the thought of Levinas, and for probing
Levinas's complicated approach towards literature, which may be the result of the
influence of the Judaic second commandment forbidding the making of an image.

Webpage of the conference: