Examining the roots of the relationship between literature and theology, this book offers the first serious attempt to probe the deep theological purposes of the study of literature. Through an exploration of themes of evil, forgiveness, sacrament and what it means to be human, David Jasper draws from international research and discussions on literature and theology and employs an historical and profoundly personal journey through the later part of the last century up to the present time. Combining fields such as bible and literature, poetry and sacrament, this book sheds new light on how Christian theology seeks to remain articulate in our global, secular and multi-faith culture.
‘Since 1982, David Jasper has played a decisive role in establishing literature and theology as a renewal of what Newman first called the Grammar of Assent. In recapitulating this history, he both gives a new light on the ambiguous contemporary evolution of theology and culture (or rather a-culture), and reminds us of the roots and reach of Christianity for the upcoming post-modernity. A central contribution to the debate.’ - Jean-Luc Marion, Paris-Sorbonne University, France and The University of Chicago, USA
‘Drawing upon more than 30 years of work in literature and theology, David Jasper reflects upon its shifting contexts and focal concerns. Typically learned, lucid and well written, these essays from one of the leading figures provide an indispensable reference point for others making their way in this field.’ - David Fergusson, University of Edinburgh, UK
‘The book is highly recommended to anyone working in theology and/or literary studies… It is at once the best introduction to the field and the most thoroughly researched analysis of how and why it came to being as well as of why it is most relevant today.’ - Michael Mack, Durham University, UK, in Literature and Theology
‘This is a book of deep learning, replete with nuanced glances to both the literary and theological traditions. But behind and before the erudition comes passion - a passion for theology, a passion for literature and, above all, a passion for the integrity of a life compassionately orientated towards a fragile world. All of which makes this book of memory, lament and yearning, in the very best sense, a work of theology.’ - Scott Robertson in the Scottish Episcopal Institute Journal
‘David Jasper’s work epitomises the very best of British scholarship. With its thoughtful, erudite sweep through the three decades plus in which the relationship between literature and theology has been reconsidered (often with suspicion and opposition), Jasper capably articulates the fact that bringing a theological perspective to bear on any area of knowledge is always worthwhile.’ - Peter Stiles, University of Divinity, Australia, in Expository Times
Introduction: the study of Literature and Theology - a history since 1982. Part I The Durham Conferences: Humanism and belief in literature: seeking a grammar of assent; A habit of mind: religion and imagination - John Coulson and John Henry Newman; Making the world bearable: Ulrich Simon; Choosing commitment: Martin Jarrett-Kerr; Finding the otherness of God in literature: Werner G. Jeanrond. Part II The Loss of and the Return to Theology: ‘A tone born out of a world of ruins’: Robert Detweiler; Returning to theology: Nijmegen, 2000; Seeking forgiveness and retrieving a theological sense of being human: Leuven, 2014. Part III Themes and the Wider World: Poetry: the poetry of the Oxford Movement; Sacrament: the Eucharistic body; The Bible: the Bible as literature - Parergon; Europe and Australia: new worlds; Europe and China: old worlds meet. Part IV Conclusions: Becoming innocent again: looking back on theory in literature and theology; Conclusion: Prospero’s books