T is for Theo-poetics (preview)

Posted By vermonthills on Feb 9, 2018 | 0 comments

What is your favorite poem?

Read the PDF here:  Preview- T is for Theopoetics

Poetry is so different than math. Math is wonderful and necessary in many arenas … but there are certain things that just can’t be captured in a formula where X+Y=Z.


God seems to be one of those topics where poetry is more appropriate than math. The divine-transcendent-eternal-cosmic beyond is not something that fits easily into a series of mathematical formulations.


Theo-poetics is a way of thinking about and talking about the divine-eternal that allows for the playful, uncertain, mysterious, and intriguing to capture our imagination of might be and what can be.


Don’t be intimidated


Sandra Schneiders (in the essay “Biblical Spirituality” from The Bible and Spirituality) says:

To begin with, we need to recognize that the discourse about “theopoetics” in general and particularly in relation to the interpretation of Scripture is a quite recent development arising at the intersection of theology and literary studies much like “biblical spirituality,” which arises at the intersection of biblical studies and spirituality. The interactive meeting ground of literary biblical studies, theology, and spirituality is precisely theopoetics or a theory of the spiritually transformative power of biblical texts as texts, actualized through a certain kind of reading or interpretation . . . It would probably be accurate to say that theopoetics is the literary or textual face of the wider concern with theological aesthetics as an approach to spirituality.


The origins of the contemporary idea of “theopoetics” are traceable to Stanley Hopper and a 1971 speech entitled “The Literary Imagination and the Doing of Theology.” Hopper’s student David Miller offers that “theopoetics is not merely the “poetizing of an extant religious faith or theological knowledge,” but is “a reflection on poiesis, a formal thinking about the nature of the making of meaning, which subverts the -ology, the nature of the logic, of theology.” In other words, theopoetics is an attempt to subvert lifeless theology and metaphysics with beauty and a poetic sensibility.


It is a mode or flavor of theology.

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