Academic journal article Theological Studies

Poetry and the Religious Imagination: The Power of the Word

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Poetry and the Religious Imagination: The Power of the Word

Article excerpt

Poetry and the Religious Imagination: The Power of the Word. Edited by Francesca Bugliani Knox and David Lonsdale. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2015. Pp. xii + 268. $109.95.

This collection of essays on theology and literature addresses questions emerging in the past 30 years in the growing European dialogue between these two disciplines. What is the religious imagination? How can secular and religious literature interact? What is the role of spiritual experience in poetry? Michael Kirwan, S.J., of Heythrop College in London, begins the volume with an overview of the religion-literature dialogue since 1987, when the journal Theology and Literature began and the Oxford Handbook of Literature and Theology appeared. Kirwan reviews the century-old tension between Matthew Arnold's prediction that poetry would replace religion, and T. S. Eliot and F. R. Leavis's replies on behalf of a religion-literature dialogue. K. then notes the rise of major theological literary critics such as Nathan Scott, Jr., William Lynch, Thomas Altizer, John Coulson, Terence Wright, and currently Terry Eagleton, David Jasper, and Robert Derweiler. K. also emphasizes Northrop Frye's role in using biblical patterns in criticism, Frank Kermode's exploration of quasi-biblical themes, and George Steiner's anti-deconstructive defense of literature "underwritten by the assumption of God's presence. …

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