Dr. Noelle Vahanian

The Rebellious No:
Variations on a Secular Theology of Language

Noëlle Vahanian

Language, Desire, and Theology:
A Genealogy of the Will to Speak

Noëlle Vahanian

Anonymous God
Gabriel Vahanian
Translated by Noëlle Vahanian


  • The Rebellious No: Variations on a Secular Theology of Language.  Fordham University Press, 2014.
    This book aims to renew theological thinking by extending and radicalizing an iconoclastic and existentialist mode of thought. It proposes a theology whose point of departure assumes and accepts the critiques of religion launched by Nietzsche, Freud, Marx, and Feuerbach but nevertheless takes theological desire seriously as a rebellious force working within, but against, an anthropomorphic, phallogocentric worldview. As a theology of language, it does not claim any privileged access to some transcendent divine essence or ground of Being. Aphoristic instead of argumentative, this book offers an original and constructive engagement with such seminal issues as indifference, belief, madness, and love.

  • Language, Desire, and Theology: A Genealogy of the Will to Speak.  Routledge, 2003.
    This book develops a new theological approach to language in the light of contemporary critical theory.  Informed by the contemporary discourses in continental philosophy of, among others, Gilles Deleuze, Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, and Julia Kristeva, the author engages with secular theological thought and provides detailed readings of several major theological and philosophical sources. These include Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Avicenna, Aquinas, Luther, Francis Bacon, Descartes, Berkeley, Hume, Kant, Kierkegaard, and Camus. This book will be of interest to theologians and philosophers.

  • Anonymous God: An Essay on Not Dreading Words. A translation of Gabriel Vahanian, Dieu anonyme ou le peur des mots. Davies Group, 2001.
    Deeply biblical, and therefore also iconoclastic, Anonymous God is Professor Gabriel Vahanian’s theological reflection on the meaning of God as word. This book, translated by his daughter, Noëlle Vahanian, is a beautifully poetic reflection on the biblical principle according to which God is an iconoclastic word about man, and man is an iconoclastic word about God.


  • "Pour une theologie juive du christianisme." Translation of Michael S. Kogan, "Toward a Jewish Theology of Christianity." In Foi et Vie, vol LCVII, no. 1 (JAN 1998).


  • "A Conversation with Catherine Malabou." In The Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, Vol. 9, No. 1. Winter 2008.
  • "Two Ways to Believe," In Angelaki: Journal of the Theoretical Humanities, vol. 12, no. 1 (April 2007): 55-60.
  • "The Rebellious No: Notes on Whitehead's Higher Phases of Experience." In Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, Vol. I, No. 2. April 2000.
  • "To Wit, Noesis." In Explorations: Journal for Adventurous Thought, vol. 14.

Chapters in Edited Volumes:

  • "Secular Theology as Language of Rebellion." In Theology After Lacan. Eds. Creston Davis, Clayton Crockett, and Marcus Pound. Wipf and Stock (Cascade Books), 2014.
  • "Counter-Currents: Theology and The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion." In The Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion. Eds. Clayton Crockett, Keith Putt, and Jeffrey Robbins. Indiana University Press, 2014.
  • "Madness and Civilization: The Paradox of A False Dichotomy." In Merely a Madness? Defining, Treating and Celebrating the Unreasonable. Eds. Daniela Fargione and Johnathan Sunley. Oxford, Unter-Disciplinary Press, 2012.
  • "Madness of Civilization: A Draft." In Mad/Sad/Bad: Philosophical, Political, Poetic and Artistic Reflections on the History of Madness. Ed. Gonzalo Araoz. Inter-Disciplinary Press, 2012.
  • "Great Explanation." In Religion and Violence in a Secular World: Toward a New Political Theology. Ed. Clayton Crockett. University of Virginia Press, 2006.
  • "Desire", "Desiring Machine", "Chora", "Transcendental Negativity", "Quasi-Transcendental", "and "Charles Winquist." In the Routledge Encyclopedia of Postmodernism, Routledge Press, 2001.
  • "Misplaced Concreteness and Abstract Essence." In Secular Theology: American Radical Theological Thought , ed. Clayton Crockett. Routledge Press, 2000.


  • Gilles Grelet, ed., Théorie-rébellion: Un Ultimatum (Paris, France: L' Harmattan, 2005); for The Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, Vol. 7, No. 3. Winter 2006.
  • Max Cacopardo, director, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir (Brooklyn, N.Y.: First Run/Icarus Films, 1967); for Bridges: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Theology, Philosophy, and Science, Vol. 13, No. 1/2. Spring/Summer 2006.
  • Richard Rubenstein, Aristotle's Children: How Christians, Muslims, and Jews Rediscovered Ancient Wisdom and Illuminated the Dark Ages (Harcourt, 2003); for The Journal for Cultural and Religious Theory, vol. 5, no. 3: link.

Conference Presentations:

  • "'Look, A Human Being?' Anthropomorphic Solopsism in Postsecular Thought." American Academy of Religion, San Diego, CA, November 2014.
  • "Theology 'After' Lacan." Society of Phenomonology and Existential Philosophy, Rochester, NY November 2012."
  • "'La vrai religion, c'est la Romaine:' Žižek against Lacan." American Philosophical Association, Eastern Division, held in Washington, DC, December 2011.
  • "Milk of My Tears." Lifting Veils: Crisis, Exposure, Imagination Interdisciplinary Conference, Salve Regina, RI, October 2011.
  • "Counter-Currents: Theology and the Future of Continental Philosophy of Religion." Postmodernism, Culture, and Religion 4 Conference, Syracuse University, NY, April 2011.
  • "Madness, Civilization, and the Reversal of Platonism." 3d Global Conference Inter-Disciplinary.Net, Oxford, September 2010.
  • "Counting Weakness, Countering Power: The Theopolitics of Catherine Keller."
    American Academy of Religion, San Diego, CA (November 2008).
  • "Two Ways to Believe." Belief and Metaphysics, sponsored by The Centre of Theology and Philosophy, University of Nottingham, Granada, Spain (September 2006).
  • "Absurd Reasoning and Theological Thinking."
    Mid-Atlantic American Academy of Religion, New Brunswick, NJ (March 2005).
  • "The Theological Turn."
    Questioning God: The British Society for Phenomenology Summer Conference, University of Greenwich, London, U.K. (Summer 2003).
  • "Thoughtfulness or Indifference."
    Continental Philosophy of Religion Conference, Sponsored by the British Academy, St. Martin's College, Lancaster, U.K. (Summer 2000).
  • "Thoughtfulness: An Interpretation of Hannah Arendt's Thought."
    Midwest Regional Meeting of the Society of Christian Philosophers, Waco, TX (March 2000).
  • "Speech on Theology for Scholars of Religion."
    AAR/SBL Eastern International Meeting, Toronto, Canada (April 1998).
  • "The Question for Theology."
    AAR/SBL Eastern International Meeting, Buffalo, NY (April 1997).
  • "To Wit, Noesis."
    AAR/SBL Triregional International Meeting, Boston, MA (March 1995).
  • "The Practical Desire To No End."
    AAR/SBL Eastern International Meeting, Montréal, Canada (April 1994).
  • "The Imp of the Perverse."
    AAR/SBL Eastern International Meeting, Rochester, NY (April 1992).
  • "Reflections on the Study of Sociology."
    SPA, Providence, RI (June 1990).