Joseph Rivera


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I lecture and conduct research on a variety of topics. Trained in the fluid disciplines of philosophy of religion and systematic theology, I am conversant with the modern religious thought as its spans from Schleiermacher to Barth and Rahner, but I work primarily between classical theology (St. Augustine, Gregory of Nyssa, Thomas Aquinas among others) and continental philosophy, which includes figures such as Edmund Husserl, Martin Heidegger and their French heirs: Jean-Luc Marion, Michel Henry, Jean-Yves Lacoste, Emmanuel Levinas and Jacques Derrida. Topics of research interest include theological anthropology in a scientific age, the domain of sacramental theology broadly conceived (as it illustrates the lived experience of religion), the very idea of philosophy of religion, and finally, political theology and question of "religion in the public square." The last topic explores the value of John Rawls and Augustine for liberal politics today. I released a monograph that explores this topic; it is entitled Political Theology and Pluralism: Renewing Public Dialogue (Palgrave MacMillan, 2018). In more recent articles to be released in 2019, I continue to explore the relevance of Rawls for Political Theology. 

I released my first monograph in 2015, The Contemplative Self after Michel Henry: A Phenomenological Theology (University of Notre Dame Press). It critically explores insights in the work of Michel Henry, a French philosopher of religion in the school of phenomenology and existentialism. His work as earned international accolades. An archive of his work and a journal devoted to focused study of his writings (Revue internationale Michel Henry) was established in 2010, at Université catholique de Louvain, Belgium, as well as research centres devoted to his work in Freiburg, Germany and in Beirut, Lebanon. He also has a readership in Japan, given that he delivered several lectures there in the early 1980s. I continue to publish on Henry, as well as Marion and Lacoste. Most recently I have published an article on the meaning and practice of empathy in Henry and Husserl. A strictly phenomenological analysis, the manuscript is published with Research in Phenomenology. Another article on Husserl's fertile concept of time is underway.

I am currently working on a fourth book project that explores the concept of the world from theological, philosophical and cultural perspectives. While I continue to work within post-Husserlian phenomenology, I also include in this project other philosophical voices from the anglophone world, such as Hilary Putnam and Richard Rorty.
Originally from a small town in Missouri, I earned my BA in Religion and History at Northwestern University in Chicago. I then pursued further graduate studies in Boston and St. Louis before completing my PhD in Theology and Philosophy of Religion at the University of Edinburgh. I came to DCU in the Autumn of 2013 as a full-time lecturer in the School of Theology, Philosophy and Music.

Peer Reviewed Journal

Year Publication
2021 Joseph Rivera (2021) 'Blumenberg's Problematic Secularization Thesis: Augustine, Curiositas and the Emergence of Late Modernity'. Religions, 15 (5):297-313.
2021 Joseph Rivera (2021) 'Giving as Loving: A Requiem for the Gift?'. Continental Philosophy Review, 54 (3):349-366.
2020 Joseph Rivera (2020) 'Religious Reasons and Public Reason: Recalibrating Ireland's Benevolent Secularism'. Review of European Studies, 12 (1):1-12. [DOI]
2020 Rivera, J (2020) 'Political Liberalism and Resentment: A Theological Rejoinder'. Modern Theology, . [DOI]
2020 Rivera, J (2020) 'Introduction: Political Theology, or the Formations of Pluralism'. Religions, . [DOI]
2019 Rivera J. (2019) 'We-synthesis: Husserl and henry on empathy and shared life'. Research in Phenomenology, 49 (2):183-206. [DOI]
2019 Rivera J. (2019) 'Liberal Citizenship and the Hermeneutics of Public Dialogue: A Rawlsian Perspective'. :133-151. [DOI]
2019 Rivera J. (2019) 'The “original position” as public performance: Liberalism, pluralism, and asceticism'. Religions, 10 (8). [DOI]
2019 Joseph Rivera (2019) 'Phenomenologies of the Trinity: Trends in Recent Philosophy of Religion'. Philosophy Compass, 14 (1):1-11. [DOI]
2019 Joseph Rivera (2019) 'The as yet Undetermined Animal: Augustine's Memoria after Cognitive Science'. European Journal of Science and Theology, 15 (5):77-94. [Link]
2018 Joseph Rivera (2018) 'The Myth of the Given? Rethinking Phenomenology's Theological Turn'. Philosophy Today, 62 (2):181-197. [Link]
2018 Joseph Rivera (2018) 'Futures of the Theological Turn'. Philosophy Today, 62 (2):89-97. [Link]
2017 Rivera, J (2017) 'Human Nature and the Limits of Plasticity: Revisiting the Debate Concerning the Supernatural'. Neue Zeitschrift fur Systematische Theologie und Religionsphilosophie, 59 :34-53. [DOI]
2016 Rivera, J (2016) 'God and Metaphysics in Contemporary Theology: Reframing the Debate'. Theological studies, 77 :823-844. [DOI]
2015 Michel Henry (Rivera J.;Faithful G.; translators) (2015) 'The four principles of phenomenology'. Continental Philosophy Review, . [DOI]
2013 Rivera J. (2013) 'Figuring the porous self: St. Augustine and the phenomenology of temporality'. Modern Theology, 29 (1):83-103. [DOI]
2013 Dr Joseph Rivera (2013) 'Toward a Liturgical Existentialism'. NEW BLACKFRIARS, vol. 94 :79-96.
2012 Dr Joseph Rivera (2012) 'Corpus Mysticum and Religious Experience: Henry, Lacoste, Marion'. International Journal of Systematic Theology, vol. 14 :327-349.
2011 Dr Joseph Rivera (2011) 'Generation, Interiority and the Phenomenology of Christianity in Michel Henry'. Continental Philosophy Review, Continental Philosophy Review, 44 :205-235.
2010 Dr Joseph Rivera (2010) 'Jean-Luc Marion: The Subject as Gifted in Christological Perspective'. Heythrop Journal-A Quarterly Review Of Philosophy And Theology, 51 :1053-1060.


Year Publication
2018 Rivera J. (2018) Political theology and pluralism: Renewing public dialogue. [DOI]
2015 Joseph Rivera (2015) The Contemplative Self after Michel Henry: A Phenomenological Theology. Notre Dame, Indiana: Notre Dame University Press.
2014 Joseph Rivera and Scott Davidson (translators) (2014) Flesh and Body: On the Phenomenology of Husserl, by Didier Franck. New York and London: Bloomsbury.
2022 Joseph Rivera (2022) Phenomenology and the Horizon of Experience: Spiritual Themes in Henry, Marion, Lacoste. New York: Routledge.

Book Chapter

Year Publication
2013 Joseph Rivera (2013) 'The Night of Living Flesh: Sainthood in Michel Henry' In: Postmodern Saints of France. London and New York : Bloomsbury.

Conference Contribution

Year Publication
2019 Joseph Rivera (2019) Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology (LEST XII) Rawlsian Public Reason: A Model of Political Theology Leuven, Belgium, 23/10/2019-26/10/2019.
2018 Joseph Rivera (2018) Society for the Study of Theology Annual Conference Nietzsche on the Hinterworld: A Relief for Theology University of Nottingham, UK, 09/04/2018-11/04/2018.
2018 Joseph Rivera (2018) Workshop on Religion and Violence Rene Girard's Phenomenology of Religious Violence University Vienna, Austria, 18/03/2018-21/03/2018.
2017 Joseph Rivera (2017) Annual Meeting of the Society for Continental Philosophy and Theology Reconciling Metaphysics and Sacramental Experience Furman University, Greenville, South Carolina, 22/03/2017-25/03/2017.
2017 Joseph Rivera (2017) Colloquium on Michel Henry Michel Henry and Irenaeus on Life Instiut für Systematische Theologie, Universität Freiburg, 23/07/2017-25/07/2018.
2016 Joseph Rivera (2016) Philosophy and Theology Symposium Sameness and Otherness: A Response to Jeffrey Bloechl Dublin City University, 12/03/2016-12/03/2016.
2016 Joseph Rivera (2016) St. Patrick's College Humanities Workshop Secularization Theory: A Plea for Ambiguity Dublin, 23/03/2016-23/03/2016.
2016 Joseph Rivera (2016) Society for the Study of Theology Plasticity in Question: The Debate Concerning the Supernatural Durham University, 22/04/2016-23/04/2016.
2016 Joseph Rivera (2016) Role of the Church in a Pluralist Society Overlapping consensus and Political Theology: A Pragmatic Approach Trinity College Dublin, 21/06/2016-23/06/2016.
2015 Joseph Rivera (2015) Christian Doctrines of Divinization East and West, Faculteit Theologie, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven “Theosis and the Secularization of the Modern World.” Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 30/01/2015-.
2015 Joseph Rivera (2015) Catholic Theological Association of Great Britain Grace without Nature? Theological Anthropology Revisited Durham University, 08/09/2015-09/09/2015.
2014 Joseph Rivera (2014) Irish Theological Association Conference, Sacramental Theology Today, St. Patrick's College “The World is not a Sacrament: Disenchantment and Modernity.” Maynooth, Ireland, 18/10/2014-.
2014 Joseph Rivera (2014) Mystical Theology and Continental Philosophy Conference, Liverpool Hope University “Practical and Political Theology in a Secular Age.” Liverpool, 11/07/2014-.
2013 Joseph Rivera (2013) The D Society in Philosophy of Religion, Cambridge University “God and Being in Contemporary Theology: the Promise of the Metaphysics of Exodus 3.14.” Cambridge, 08/02/2013-.
2013 Joseph Rivera (2013) The Soul: Center for Theology and Philosophy Conference “The Soul-Body Distinction: An Augustinian Rereading Oxford, 28/06/2013-.
2012 Joseph Rivera (2012) Theology and Ethics Public Seminar, University of Edinburgh School of Divinity “Philosophy and Theology: A Rapprochement Edinburgh, 09/02/2012-.
2012 Joseph Rivera (2012) Beyond Myth and Enlightenment Conference, University of Vienna, Austria “Contemplating Transcendence: Eucharistic Temporality after Husserl and Heidegger.” Vienna, 13/09/2012-.
2012 Joseph Rivera (2012) Phenomenology and Religion Workshop, Trinity College Dublin “The Phenomenological Reduction and the Problem of the ‘World:’ Theological Possibilities.” Dublin, 24/04/2012-.
2011 Joseph Rivera (2011) What is Life? Center for Theology and Philosophy Conference “Individuation, Temporality and Life Krakow, Poland, 24/06/2011-.
2011 Joseph Rivera (2011) Sacramental Theology and Postmodernism Seminar What are Saturated Phenomena? Edinburgh, 08/02/2011-.
2011 Joseph Rivera (2011) Phenomenology and Theology Seminary, Univ of Edinburgh School of Divinity “Phenomenology and Theology in Michel Henry” Edinburgh, 15/02/2011-.
2010 Joseph Rivera (2010) Colloquium in Catholic Theology, University of Nottingham “Corpus Christi Mysticum in Lacoste and Henry: Religious Experience or Non-Experience?” Nottingham, 11/11/2010-.
2010 Joseph Rivera (2010) Colloque international à l’occasion de l’ouverture du Fonds Michel Henry “Michel Henry’s Phenomenology of the Incarnation and the Problem of Religious Experience.” Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, 17/12/2010-.
2010 Joseph Rivera (2010) Center for Subjectivity Research, University of Copenhagen “Recovering the Cartesian Subject: Self-Affection as Self-Awareness in the Michel Henry’s Phenomenology of Life.” Copenhagen, 24/08/2010-.
2010 Joseph Rivera (2010) International Society for Religion, Literature and Culture “Pure Flesh: Michel Henry’s Theological Critique of Husserlian Intentionality.” Oxford, 27/09/2010-.
2010 Joseph Rivera (2010) “The Temporality of the Self: Comparing an Anxious Heidegger with a Hopeful St. John of the Cross.” The Present Moment: Postgraduate Conference in Theology and Religion Oxford, 30/09/2010-.
2009 Joseph Rivera (2009) American Academy of Religion “Liturgy or Death? The Phenomenology of Authenticity in Heidegger and Lacoste.” Montreal, 07/11/2009-.
2009 Joseph Rivera (2009) Leuven Encounters in Systematic Theology “The Question of a Phenomenology of Creation in Michel Henry.” Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, 28/10/2009-.
2008 Joseph Rivera (2008) The Philosophy of Jean-Luc Marion Reading the Atonement as a Saturated Phenomenon Franciscan University, Steubenville, Ohio, USA, 25/04/2008-.
2008 Joseph Rivera (2008) American Academy of Religion “Communing with the Gods: William Robertson Smith, Sacrifice and Atonement Theology 1890-1915.” Chicago, 31/10/2008-.

Book Review

Year Publication
2019 Rivera, J (2019) The Providence of God: A Polyphonic Approach. LONDON: BREV [DOI]
2016 Rivera, J (2016) The Theological Project of Modernism: Faith and Conditions of Mineness. HOBOKEN: BREV [DOI]
2015 Rivera, J (2015) Theology without Metaphysics: God, Language and the Spirit of Recognition. HOBOKEN: BREV [DOI]
2015 Rivera, J (2015) Barbarism. HOBOKEN: BREV
2015 Rivera, J (2015) Praying to a French God: The Theology of Jean-Yves Lacoste. LONDON: BREV
2015 Rivera, J (2015) Who's Afraid of Relativism? Community, Contingency and Creaturehood. HOBOKEN: BREV [DOI]
2014 Dr Joseph Rivera (2014) Postmodern Apologetics? Arguments for God in Contemporary Philosophy, Christina M. Gschwandtner (New York: Fordham University Press, 2012). BREV
2014 Dr Joseph Rivera (2014) Interpreting Excess: Jean-Luc Marion, Saturated Phenomena and Hermeneutics, by Shane Mackinlay (New York: Fordham University Press, 2010). BREV
2013 Dr Joseph Rivera (2013) Michel Henry: the Affects of Thought, eds., Jeffrey Hanson and Michael Kelly (New York and London: Continuum, 2012). BREV
2013 Dr Joseph Rivera (2013) Secularization: In Defense of an Unfashionable Theory by Steve Bruce (Oxford, UK Oxford University Press, 2011). BREV
2011 Dr Joseph Rivera (2011) Religious Experience Reconsidered: A Building-Block Approach to the Study of Religion and Other Special Things, by Ann Taves (Princeton and Oxford: Princeton University Press, 2009). BREV
2011 Dr Joseph Rivera (2011) Derrida and Theology, by Stephen Shakespeare (London and New York: Continuum, 2009). BREV
2010 Dr Joseph Rivera (2010) Solomon Among the Postmoderns, by Peter Leithart (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2008). BREV
2009 Dr Joseph Rivera (2009) What Would Jesus Deconstruct? The Good News of Postmodernism for the Church, by John Caputo (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2007). BREV
2008 Dr Joseph Rivera (2008) Christ and Culture, by Graham Ward (Malden, MA; Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 2005). BREV

Other Journal

Year Publication
2018 Joseph Rivera (2018) 'Spiritual Exercises in a Secular Age: Prospects for a Theological Reduction' 17 (2) :307-327. [Link]
2017 Joseph Rivera (2017) 'Christian Life and the Phenomenology of Life' 16 (1) :161-182.
Certain data included herein are derived from the © Web of Science (2022) of Clarivate. All rights reserved.


Language Reading Writing Speaking
German Functional None None
French Fluent Basic Basic
Spanish Functional None Basic

Research Interests

I seek to find ways for theological discourse, and religious studies, to correspond critically (and constructively) to the particular spirit of the age in which we find ourselves. 

Specific Areas of interest: Modern Theology (Barth, Rahner and Balthasar), St. Augustine, Secular studies and Genealogies of Modernity, Phenomenology, Continental Philosophy of Religion, Political Theology (especially John Rawls and Richard Rorty), Metaphysics and concepts of the self and personal identity.

Current Postgraduate Students

Student Name Degree Supervision
Mc Bennett ,Padraig PhD-track Supervisor
Byrne ,Dermot PhD-track Supervisor