Glory: The First Passion of Theology?
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CitationRivera M. 2010. “Glory: The First Passion of Theology?” In Polydoxy: Theologies of the Manifold (Proceedings of the Drew Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquium IX), ed. Catherine Keller and Laurel Schneider, October 1-4, 2009, Madison, NJ, 167-181. New York: Routledge.
AbstractDoxa, the Septuagint's translation of the Hebrew kabôd and the New Testament term for glory, brings into semantic proximity a plurality of concepts related to knowledge and the experiences of awe and wonder. The complex relationship between the various senses of the term doxa lures this exploration of the methodological significance of glory for a theology of the manifold. What if we understood theology as a perpetual movement propelled not by propositional certainty, but rather by the affect of wonder?
The experience of wonder in the encounter with the glory of God is represented in the Hebrew Scriptures not only as extraordinary phenomena, but more often as the transfiguration of the ordinary: as fire or thick darkness, as the brightness of the heavens or of Moses' illuminated face. Glory appears as a luring quality that incites wonder and yet remains beyond our direct access or grasp. Glory is not a thing. Like light, it can only be in that which it illuminates. Indeed, matter and flesh make possible the manifestation of glory, while simultaneously revealing the irreducible mystery of carnality. Thus glory is never one, nor is it a separate element. Furthermore, glory can only be conceived in relation to its effects on those who recognize it, who behold a transfiguration of the ordinary, those who open themselves in wonder.
This essay engages the biblical concept of glory as a theological supplement for the philosophies of wonder (carefully mapped by Mary-Jane Rubenstein), seeking to recover glory's worldliness and its role as the "first passion" (Descartes) of theology.
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