Apophatic theology as a resource for eco-theology

Peter-Ben Smit, Iris Veerbeek

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This essay explores the potential for eco-theology as a part of the (Christian) theological tradition that, so far, has only been analyzed to a limited extent with regard to what it might contribute to forms of theology that further more sustainable forms of humankind’s (co-)inhabitation of the world: the tradition of apophatic theology. The question is: ‘can dimensions of the apophatic tradition be identified that can contribute to the development of eco-theology in the Christian tradition by informing the shaping of the relationship between
humankind and the rest of creation?’ The question will be answered affirmatively, for which this essay takes the following steps. First, the conditions under which apophatic approaches can inform the relationship between humankind and the rest of creation are considered. Second, a recent discussion of apophatic theology by Rowan Williams is used as a point of departure to discuss apophatic theology, epistemology and representation. Third, the theology of icons, expressive as it is by forms of relational and ‘decentered’ observation, that can be understood as being closely connected with apophatic concerns, is considered as a model for humankind’s relating to the rest of creation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-280
Number of pages18
JournalInternational Journal of Philosophy and Theology
Issue number4
Early online date1 Dec 2022
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Ecology
  • Theology
  • Sustainability
  • Anthropology
  • Anthropocene
  • Icons
  • Apophaticism
  • Rowan Williams
  • Eco-Theology


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