Special Issue "Christian Literary Imagination: Seeking Transcendence in an Age of Identity"
A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).
Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (1 May 2019) | Viewed by 11371
The past century has witnessed a flowering of aesthetic and literary methodologies taking root within the soil of Christian theology. Beginning with the writings of Henri Bremond, Jacques Maritain, and T. S. Eliot, through the mid-century works of Nathan Scott, William Lynch, and Amos Wilder, to the theological appropriations of literature by Hans Urs von Balthasar and Paul Fiddes, theology has reached the point at which William Franke can write in his recent book A Theology of Literature that “the older practice of reading the Bible as literature has gone through a remarkable ‘conversion’ into reading literature as theology.”
Originally fostered as a counterweight to theologies that critics deemed overly rationalistic and abstract, Christian theologies of literature have made common cause with postliberal theologies that have emphasized the irreducible particularity of Christianity. George Lindbeck’s 1984 book The Nature of Doctrine paved the way for a generation of scholars who promoted cultural-linguistic theologies as a preferable alternative to doctrinal or experiential expressions of religious belief. Imaginative literature escaped cognitive abstractions that threatened to domesticate the gospel within universalist categories, and so literature proved to be a valuable medium for Christians seeking to explain how human encounters with the transcendent God could overlap with unique narratives, symbols, and images.
In the twenty-first century, however, Christian theology has continued to be challenged by a subaltern critique that claims to expose the manner in which Christians throughout history have made common cause with structures of power and domination. Pioneers such as Gustavo Gutiérrez, James Cone, and Rosemary Reuther have pointed out Christian theology’s collaboration with colonialism, neoliberalism, racism, and patriarchy, a charge amplified in recent books on postcolonialism by Kwok Pui-lan and Catherine Keller.
Are the Christian theologies of literature developed over the last century complicit with the targets of liberationist critiques? Does theological aesthetics aid those on the margins who struggle to maintain personal and collective identities in the face of globalization and neoliberalism? Or are Christian theologies of literature too indebted to neoplatonic and ahistorical understandings of transcendence to be of use for such Christian praxis?
This issue of Religions, “Christian Literary Imagination: Seeking Transcendence in an Age of Identity,” is open to theologians and scholars of literature who desire to take a stance on any side of these questions. Literary, historical-critical, and theological methodologies are welcomed in the quest to broaden current scholarship in the theology of literature. Our goal will be to bring voices from different academic specializations together to examine whether the contemplative and aesthetic roots of Christian theologies of literature can find common ground with identity politics in the twenty-first century.
Prof. Dr. Christopher Denny
Manuscript Submission Information
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Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.
- religion and literature
- literature and identity
- religious aesthetics