Special Issue "Christian Literary Imagination: Seeking Transcendence in an Age of Identity"

A special issue of Religions (ISSN 2077-1444).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 1 May 2019

Special Issue Editor

Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Christopher Denny

Department of Theology and Religious Studies, St. John's University 8000 Utopia Parkway; Queens, NY 11439, USA
Website | E-Mail
Interests: theological aesthetics; religion and literature; Hans Urs von Balthasar; Christian theological tradition; eschatology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

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
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Religions is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charges (APCs) of 550 CHF (Swiss Francs) per published paper are partially funded by institutions through Knowledge Unlatched for a limited number of papers per year. Please contact the editorial office before submission to check whether KU waivers, or discounts are still available. 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
  • transcendence
  • literature and identity
  • religious aesthetics
  • beauty

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
Religions EISSN 2077-1444 Published by MDPI AG, Basel, Switzerland RSS E-Mail Table of Contents Alert Logo copyright Steve Bridenbaugh/UUA
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