Theopoetics and Religious Difference: The Unruliness of the Interreligious: A Dialogue with Richard Kearney, John D. Caputo, and Catherine Keller

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This study explores the potential of the “theopoetics” of Richard
Kearney, John D. Caputo, and Catherine Keller for Christian theological
reflection on religious difference and interreligious encounter. It suggests religious difference appears marked by an unruliness or “anarchy,” which theopoetics may lead us to embrace rather than repress.
The first chapter thus sketches the main issues in Christian theology
of religions in recent decades, tracing this unruliness of religious difference in deepening layers. Taken together, what emerges is a growing understanding of the groundlessness of Christianity, especially its assumptions of superiority, the unavailability of a comprehensive neutral viewpoint or unifying schema, the unsettling and unfinished nature of interreligious encounters, and the need for critique of the most central categories through which Christianity has viewed religious difference.
With this debate established, the next chapters turn to Kearney, Caputo,
and Keller in a dedicated chapter for each author. While their direct
writings on religious difference are of varying depth, resources may be found especially in Kearney’s understanding of narrative collective identity and imagination, in Caputo’s deconstructive wariness of systematization, and Keller’s relational apophasis and her reading of Genesis 1 as the Divine calling forth creation from an unruly tehom or Deep. Taken together, theopoetics offers a way to figure the groundlessness of religious attachments, the non-privileged place of Christianity, its indelible relatedness to others, and an embrace of critique, challenge, and negation, without falling into silence or neglecting the communal, traditional, and indeed political nature of religion. Further, theopoetics seeks to resist stabilizing these insights into a comprehensive schema or renewed privileged vantage point.
Drawing on these resources, the final chapter explores a direction a more
intentional theopoetics of the interreligious might take. Drawing on insights from religious studies and related fields, it argues religious difference historically appears to always already insist itself into the formation of religious identity, thus at the same time constituting and destabilizing religious traditions.
This leads into a more (quasi-)ontological investigation of difference
and its unruliness, proposing to think it as a in proximity to diff´erance, kh¯ora, and tehom, and suggesting interreligious translatability can be seen as opening religion up to an aporetic relatedness, perhaps already divine. Finally, a theopoetics of religious difference will seek, in these aporetic conditions, to not only envision but also evoke a sense of community as interreligious solidarity, calling forth relationship from the depths of difference.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationTübingen
PublisherMohr Siebeck
Number of pages270
ISBN (Electronic)9783161598012
ISBN (Print)9783161598005
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Publication series

NameReligion in Philosophy and Theology
PublisherMohr Siebeck
ISSN (Print)1616-346X
ISSN (Electronic)2568-7425


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