The Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming

The Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming

The Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming

The Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming


This is a groundbreaking, highly original work of postmodern feminist theology from one of the most important authors in the field. The Face of the Deep deconstructs the Christian doctrine of creation which claims that a transcendent Lord unilaterally created the universe out of nothing. Catherine Keller's impassioned, graceful meditation develops an alternative representation of the cosmic creative process, drawing upon Hebrew myths of creation, from chaos, and engaging with the political and the mystical, the literary and the scientific, the sexual and the racial.As a landmark work of immense significance for Jewish and Christian theology, gender studies, literature, philosophy and ecology, The Face of the Deep takes our originary story to a new horizon, rewriting the starting point for Western spiritual discourse.


The undertow has gripped the wave. The salt washes the wound. We begin again, or not at all.

What if beginning-this beginning, any beginning, The Beginning-does not lie back, like an origin, but rather opens out? “To begin” derives from the old Teutonic be-ginnan, “to cut open, to open up, ” cognate with the Old English ginan, meaning “to gape, to yawn, ” as a mouth or an abyss (OED).

We gape back. We make brilliant machines for gaping. They inscribe a universe that appears to open endlessly. Indeed, its speed of expansion now seems, stunningly, to be accelerating-as though replaying the initial surge into materialization called the Big Bang. Or more suitably: the Big Birth. A strange “dark energy” pushes the universe infinitely out. In a centrifugal expansion that is paradoxically without center, glamorous conflagrations of star death glide along on the same momentum with nurseries of nebulae incubating fetal stars. The galaxies interlace like a circulatory system: the nonlinear geometry of chaos is figured everywhere. Astronomers, who had once focussed upon “jewel-like lights that moved in eternally recurring patterns, ” must confront the possibility that the starry galaxies and their creatures are “barely more than flecks of froth on a stormy sea of dark matter.” Darkness upon the deep.

Do we-religious or irreligious-just gape a moment, yawn and look away? Does this sheer exteriority, this bounding boundlessness, wash out every signifier of human difference? At, say, a hundred billion galaxies times a hundred billion stars each, how should we empathize with these impossible quantities? Virtue-religious or irreligious-calls our gaze back to the streets, to meet a human scale of need with

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