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Divine Multiplicity

Trinities, Diversities, and the Nature of Relation

Chris Boesel

Publication Year: 2013

The essays in this volume ask if and how trinitarian and pluralist discourses can enter into fruitful conversation with one another. Can trinitarian conceptions of divine multiplicity open the Christian tradition to more creative and affirming visions of creaturely identities, difference, and relationality including the specific difference of religious plurality? Where might the triadic patterning evident in the Christian theological tradition have always exceeded the boundaries of Christian thought and experience? Can this help us to inhabit other religious traditions' conceptions of divine and/or creaturely reality? The volume also interrogates the possibilities of various discourses on pluralism by putting them in a concrete pluralist context and asking to what extent pluralist discourse can collect within itself a convergent diversity of orthodox, heterodox, postcolonial, process, poststructuralist, liberationist, and feminist sensibilities while avoiding irruptions of conflict, competition, or the logic of mutual exclusion.

Published by: Fordham University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. 1-6


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pp. vii-viii


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pp. ix-xii

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Introduction: The Whence and the Whither of “Divine Multiplicity”

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pp. 1-16

This collection of essays is the result of work undertaken on the occasion of Drew Theological School’s tenth annual Transdisciplinary Theologi-cal Colloquium. Each fall, since the turn of the millennium, a relatively small cohort of scholars working in and around the fi elds of religion and theology have been invited to engage a specifi c theological theme of cur-...

Philosophical Explorations: Divinity, Diversity, Depth

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The God Who Is (Not) One: Of Elephants, Blind Men, and Disappearing Tigers

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pp. 19-37

The elusive dance of the One and the Many fascinated me throughout the years of doctoral and postdoctoral study in Germany. But this fascination was, for me, never an intellectual artifact or abstract mind-game. Even before teenage years hit, and long before any formal exposure to either mysticism or organized religion, it was already a dance I knew well...

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God’s Vitality: Creative Tension and the Abyss of Différance within the Divine Life

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pp. 38-57

At times, there seems to be a choice set before Christian theology regarding how to understand those outside of Christianity: Either they are somehow in relationship with the God proclaimed by Christians, or they are not. This division is, of course, complicated by different understandings of who is inside of Christianity and who is outside, as well as the exact...

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Polyphilic Pluralism: Becoming Religious Multiplicities

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pp. 58-82

Where religious pluralism becomes more common, one witnesses also— including, but exceeding, the will to interreligious understanding and therefore political peace—an appetite for the diff erences. We are accustomed— with reason—to worrying about the Western voracity of such appetite, about the risk of colonization and appropriation of the Other. This...

Interreligious Explorations: Religious Diversity and Divine Multiplicity

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Abhinavagupta’s Theogrammatical Topography of the One and the Many

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pp. 85-105

For much of the world’s history, what happens to most of us (that is, the many, the people) has actually been dictated by the one—a singular person as ruler. Countries were ruled by kings and only one could rule; brutal wars were waged over which claimant to the throne could seize the right to rule the many. Moreover, the idea of one to rule the many, monarchy...

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One and the Many: The Struggle to Understand Plurality within the Indian Tradition and Its Implications for the Debate on Religious Plurality Today

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pp. 106-118

Every summer, in the month of July, the Ecumenical Institute of the World Council of Churches in Geneva (Ecumenical Institute, Bossey) brings together a group of about twenty Christians, Jews, and Muslims for about three weeks to live and learn together. They are also given the opportunity to participate in one another’s worship practices to the extent they...

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Differential Pluralism and Trinitarian Theologies of Religion

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pp. 119-136

The intensity of my interest in this topic stems from the reality I see before me on a regular basis. As one student with a particularly varied family and personal background said to me, “I am the many I am trying to make one.” The tradition of thought about these issues may be philosophical, but the situation on which it bears is increasingly personal and immediate...

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Spirited Transformations:Pneumatology as a Resourcefor Comparative Theology

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pp. 137-150

In some well-meaning concepts of interreligious interaction, “the many” seem to be valued in their embodied diverse traditions only to be ultimately collapsed into a metaphysical “one.” To use the ubiquitous metaphor of the mountain whose one summit can be reached by many paths, manyness...

Theo-Anthropological Explorations:Queer God, Strange Creatures, Storied Spirit

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Excess, Reversibility, andApophasis: Rereading Genderin Feminist Trinities

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pp. 153-174

Admittedly, reflection on the complexities of the “one and the many” in God can take on a kind of abstruseness when compared to the material injustices of everyday life: global poverty, war, and environmental degradation to name a few. Even if it is presumed that the “one” has a relationship to state power and the expansion...

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Doxological Diversities and Canticle Multiplicities: The Trinitarian Anthropologies of David H. Kelsey and Ivone Gebara

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pp. 175-192

The grand philosophical tradition examining the problem of the “One and the Many” is not something one learns in elementary school. And yet, I feel inexorably drawn to that very problem—there is something elementary (indeed, elemental) about the infinite relations of the one and the many. It is the quotidianness, the strange ordinariness, of the multiplicity...

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The Holy Spirit, the Story of God

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pp. 193-214

My thoughts on the “one and the many,” thinking through divine multiplicity, stem from my intuition that the practice of Christianity too often entails an agreed-upon set of doctrines and efforts to generate wider agreement on those doctrines. Christian churches are ever parting ways, breaking the ties of communion over particular beliefs they deem absolutely...

Doctrinal Explorations: Trinity, Christology, and the Quality of Relation

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Absolute Diff erence

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pp. 217-233

The question of the one or the many, per se, has very little existential traction for me, so I don’t expect much on that score from discussion of unity and diversity within the Trinity. As far as I can see, without fleshing out their respective constitutions in greater detail, unity and diversity are mere abstractions devoid of any particular existential import. Worrying...

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Multiplicity and Christocentric Theology

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pp. 234-251

The Christian religion has been implicated in manifold forms of domination, imperialism, and conquest. Powerful historical agents have repeatedly inflated Christian particularity into a false universal. Discussions and movements critical of the soul-scarring and sometimes death-dealing imposition of Christian particularity are always to be welcomed. However, it...

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Divine Relationality and (the Methodological Constraints of) the Gospel as Piece of News: Tracing the Limits of Trinitarian Ethics

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pp. 252-279

While drowning in the all-too-familiar missed-deadline panic, having lost the woods for the trees, I was listening to a story about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Muslim cleric spearheading plans for an Islamic community center near “ground zero” in New York City, on NPR’s All Things Considered. During an interview for the story, the imam made the comment that “the...

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The Universe, Raw: Saying Something about Everything

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pp. 280-300

Every fall semester, in the first couple of weeks of my introductory theology class, something I say in lecture triggers the elephant story. “Oh! You mean like in that story about the elephant and the blind mice!” a student says, as though some kind of light has dawned. And then she looks around at her classmates and explains, in earnest: “One mouse can describe only...


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pp. 301-346


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pp. 347-349

Further Reading

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pp. 363-364

E-ISBN-13: 9780823253999
Print-ISBN-13: 9780823253951
Print-ISBN-10: 0823253953

Page Count: 364
Publication Year: 2013

Edition: Cloth