15 Pages


Religion has no independent existence apart from the academy. We are also far from the discipline of Religious Studies, as conventionally understood, as well as conventional understandings of religion, not to speak of Judaism. Among other distinctions, Derrida mentions those between religion and faith, religion and the divine, religion and theology, theiology, and ontotheology. So the ellipse refers to something elliptic in religion, to the crypt, to the bottom without bottom. Derrida refers to the "auto-immunity" of religions repeatedly in the last sections of the essay, indicating the "death drive that is silently at work in every community". Yet Smith's work is remarkable for its roots in his early scientific training and its avoidance of what might be called the poetics of religion, and certainly the poetry of religion, despite his evident love and wide reading of poetry and, indeed, metaphysics.