Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming

Article excerpt

Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming. By Catherine Keller. London and New York: Routledge, 2003. xx + 307 pp. $25.95 (paper).

In her eloquently written book, Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming, Catherine Keller argues that how we conceive of the world's beginning importantly shapes how we treat each other and the natural world. While Christian orthodoxy has assumed that the world is created out of nothing (ex nihilo) by a transcendent, all-powerful God, Face of the Deep envisions an altogether different theology of creation, not out of nothing but (drawing on Genesis 1) from the bottomless, watery deep (creatio ex profundis).

Keller's main problem with creation ex nihilo is that it constitutes world history as running from a pure and simple divine origin placed outside finite existence, towards a divinely guaranteed future. According to Keller, this linear salvation history desperately wants to be straight, and, hence, suppresses all that does not fit its orderly structure: those "who bear the mask of chaos, the skins of darkness, the genders of unspeakable openings" (p. 6). Indeed, Keller argues, we, as a Western culture, collectively suffer from an all-pervasive fear of the deep (tehomophobia). In response, and as a political-spiritual practice, Keller's theology of creation "writes of nothing before or outside of time and space," allowing the deep to saturate her discourse on God and world (p.157).

Face of the Deep is divided into four parts all of which can be read more or less independently. Part I (chaps. 1 and 2) introduces Keller's project and sketches the book's main argument. She asks, What happened to the chaos of the second verse of Genesis 1? The second part, in turn, searches some of the conflicted textual origins of creation ex nihilo, most notably those of Irenaeus (chap. 3), Augustine (chap. 4), and Karl Barth (chap. 5). Keller charges these texts with establishing and reiterating the logo-centric order of creation ex nihilo. Yet while demonized by orthodoxy, the chaotic deep keeps disturbing the surface. …

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