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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 representa 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.


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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 representa 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.

30 review for Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kelli Waesche

    Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming. By Catherine Keller. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2013/307 pages. $27.28 (P) A New Theology for a New Ecological Perspective: Catherine Keller’s book Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming meticulously teases apart the significance behind the accepted Christian doctrine that creation’s genesis came out of nothing, a creatio ex nihilo. Keller argues that instead of nothing, there was the tehom, a creatio ex profundis somehow lost in translation, and Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming. By Catherine Keller. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, 2013/307 pages. $27.28 (P) A New Theology for a New Ecological Perspective: Catherine Keller’s book Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming meticulously teases apart the significance behind the accepted Christian doctrine that creation’s genesis came out of nothing, a creatio ex nihilo. Keller argues that instead of nothing, there was the tehom, a creatio ex profundis somehow lost in translation, and over the passage of time, tainted by homophobia and gynophobia. Some of the major key words her theology is written around are the Hebrew tehom, ruach, Elohim, tohu vabohu, and bereshit. She meditates on Augustine’s tears and Job’s despair, pondering paternalism and maternalism. She wonders over the violent death of the Babylonian goddess Tia-mat, and the elusiveness of Melville’s Leviathan as she sorts through the roots of Christian Western civilization’s obsessive love-hate relationship with femininity. Keller explores the minds of theologians and philosophers like Karl Barth, Jacques Derrida, and Rashi as she and they struggle to define God, beginning, chaos, and creation. She moves through history, language, philosophy, and science as though she is taking her readers on a pilgrimage with her, offering a new interpretation for Genesis that proposes a profoundly fresh relationship with nature and the feminine through “the equality of male and female that designates the imago dei” (Keller, 137). Her theological exploration hinges upon the first few lines from the Bible, Genesis 1:1-1:2, succeeding in bringing attention to the power of those opening lines with a fierce command of not only the English language, but also Hebrew and Latin, as she laboriously waxes linguistically through history and literature, from one philosophical quandary to another. At each turn of the page, Keller poetically explores her topic in depth, intelligently, and oftentimes obscurely, bringing forth her concepts and arguments from the abyss. One needs to be prepared to understand that this book is not light reading, nor are its central messages easily discernible for someone without an extensive background in theology and philosophy, or at the very least, the time and patience to do a lot of internet and soul searching. Keller breaks her tehomic theology into four parts, each part organized into smaller sub-sections allowing the reader time to catch their breath and to of course attempt to catch up with her revelations. Understanding the reasons why the Christian Church has overwhelmingly accepted the “patristic construction of the creatio ex nihilo” doctrine reveals “a hardening theological anthropomorphism” that was “tending to reduce nonhuman nature to a background effect” (Keller, 136). The tehom, is often translated from Hebrew as the feminine-gendered deep, or the ocean, metaphor for the female womb, which is important in understanding humanity’s relationship with the natural world. Keller’s Derridian deconstruction of creatio ex nihilo offers insight into the perverse ways that current Western Christian theology has demonized and subjugated the feminine, where tehomophobia and gynophobia are inexplicably connected to each other. The “lasting correlation between tehomophobia and gynophobia” that Keller advances are also the roots of the dominion thesis and its connection with the exploitation of women, the earth, and nonhuman creatures, which has contributed to the current anthropogenic climate change and extinction events we live through at present. Tehomic theology offers a new, hopeful theo-(eco-)-logical perspective on mankind’s relationship with nature, and the management of anthropogenic-caused climate change, species extinction, and the way natural resources are consumed. Genesis 1:26 reveals that on the sixth day of creation God gave humans the command to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth”, a verse used “to justify ecological exploitation” (Keller, 137). However, Keller points out that the rest of verse one is ignored, which gives humankind “a vegetarian dominion” (Keller, 137). Here Keller reminds us that God has distributed earth’s bounty equally among all of His living creations, an idea that defies the tehomophobic “hoard of CEOs and fundamentalists” who use Genesis 1:26 to profit from the destruction of what God has created and proclaimed “good” (Keller, 137). When God gave humankind dominion, He gave us an “imagery of kingship”, but when we “mistake dominion for dominance, we fail in our responsibility as caretakers for the earth” and no longer reflect the imago dei (Keller, 138). In order to “see God is to see the creation (sic)” (Keller, 139). Ignoring the tehom is the catalyst for the need to subjugate and control the feminine in all its forms, but above all, it divorces the feminine from the Creation and nature itself. Nature is the “visible body” of God from whence “spills forth so chaotically, so creatively, so procreatively from ‘the womb’ (sic)”, a theology of the deeply feminine (Keller, 139). New life springs forth from the female womb, a dark, wet, and perhaps chaotic place that has been relegated to that which is farthest from God, and has become synonymous to the natural world. Nature and the natural order has been separated from the masculine in a theology that begins with a creatio ex nihilo. It has divided and alienated us from our natural selves, and given permission to exploit and dominate anything deemed feminine. Tehom is the primordial soup from whence all life begins, the “unformed matter” from which God called forth all of creation (Keller, xvi). What could be closest to tehom than the amniotic waters of the womb? Why should the feminine be any farther from God than the masculine? The erasure of the feminine in creation and its subsequent embodiment in nature deserves further theological, philosophical, and ecological explorations in order to better understand our relationship to each other and the natural world. Keller offers a starting point in her tehomic theology, addressing the connections between the tehomophobic and gynophobic roots of the dominion thesis, and insight into how we may have strayed from a beginning where we and the rest of creation have all been called forth, in our turns, from the feminine deep rather than from nothing. From the tehom, we are all gloriously connected, having been proclaimed naturally “good” by God. Kelli J. Waesche February 2018

  2. 4 out of 5

    KA

    This beautifully (but densely) written and mystical theology is an extended meditation on the first two verses of the Bible, "When God began to create the heavens and the earth . . ." More specifically, it is a meditation on the Hebrew word tehom, deeps, depth, and a refutation of ex nihilo theology. Lost me when she began to kowtow to deconstructionist antipathy to the concept of depth. Still worth reading, though. This beautifully (but densely) written and mystical theology is an extended meditation on the first two verses of the Bible, "When God began to create the heavens and the earth . . ." More specifically, it is a meditation on the Hebrew word tehom, deeps, depth, and a refutation of ex nihilo theology. Lost me when she began to kowtow to deconstructionist antipathy to the concept of depth. Still worth reading, though.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    If you're into Hebrew and process theology you'll go nuts over this. An amazing writer and thinker. If you're into Hebrew and process theology you'll go nuts over this. An amazing writer and thinker.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Walt

    A book of excellent ideas, criticism, and theology stuck behind unnecessarily difficult language. For anyone willing to get through several layers of abstraction, the actual analysis of creation stories and their social contexts and effects is quite interesting and useful to creating a constructive religious worldview.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Alex McManus

    Along with On the Mystery, Face of the Deep, gave me alternative ways to understand creation. While I am unafraid of process theology and liberation theology and freely take what I like, my own theology is not systematic enough to label. It is a messy, chaotic thing seeking to take form. This shelf is dedicated to some of the books that have influenced me as I wrote Makers of Fire. Some of these books did not necessarily influence the book directly, but in terms of general frameworks. Others off Along with On the Mystery, Face of the Deep, gave me alternative ways to understand creation. While I am unafraid of process theology and liberation theology and freely take what I like, my own theology is not systematic enough to label. It is a messy, chaotic thing seeking to take form. This shelf is dedicated to some of the books that have influenced me as I wrote Makers of Fire. Some of these books did not necessarily influence the book directly, but in terms of general frameworks. Others offered particular ideas that ignited my imagination. Makers of Fire: The Spirituality of Leading from the Future

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    I have posted a few scribbles about this book here: http://jasongoroncy.com/2014/08/06/a-... I have posted a few scribbles about this book here: http://jasongoroncy.com/2014/08/06/a-...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Paul Sundberg

    challenging, poetic, brilliant

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jay

  9. 5 out of 5

    Brady Beard

  10. 5 out of 5

    Nick Esposito

  11. 5 out of 5

    Gina

  12. 5 out of 5

    Jean-Pierre

  13. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

  14. 4 out of 5

    Hannah

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily Mulqueen

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ted Morgan

  17. 4 out of 5

    homoness

  18. 4 out of 5

    Danielle Isbell

  19. 4 out of 5

    Shannon

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sean

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jay Potter

  22. 5 out of 5

    Michael Hix

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

  24. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Mccracken

  25. 4 out of 5

    Astripp

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

  27. 4 out of 5

    Rinto Pangaribuan

  28. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

  29. 4 out of 5

    Michael Jagessar

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

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