Seeking the God Beyond: A Beginner's Guide to Christian Apophatic Spirituality

Seeking the God Beyond: A Beginner's Guide to Christian Apophatic Spirituality

by J. P. Williams

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Overview

Apophatic theology, or negative theology, attempts to describe God, the Divine Good, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God.

It is a way of coming to an understanding of who God is, which has played a significant role across centuries of Christian tradition but is very often treated with suspicion by those engaging in theological study today. This book seeks to introduce students to this oft-misunderstood form of spirituality.

Beginning by placing apophatic spirituality within its biblical roots, the book later considers the key pioneers of apophatic faith and a diverse range of thinkers, including C. S. Lewis and Keats, to inform us in our negative theological journey.

A final section explores what difference a negative theological approach might make to our practice and our liturgy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781532685767
Publisher: Wipf & Stock Publishers
Publication date: 07/29/2019
Pages: 218
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

J. P. Williams is the West of England Ministry Training Course Dean at Ripon College Cuddesdon. She has taught Philosophy, Religious Studies/Theology, and Buddhism in a range of universities and colleges in both Japan and England.

Table of Contents

Contents:

Preface

Introduction: Speak of Me as I Am

Part 1 Biblical Roots

- Moses: The Fire and the Cloud

- The Song of Songs

- John the Baptist, Apophatic Prophet

- Jesus: Word and Silence

Part 2 The 'Negative Way'

- Stripping

- Ascent

- Unsaying

- Union

Part 3 Pioneers of Apophatic Faith

- Gregory of Nyssa

- The Dionysian Corpus

- Meister Eckhart

- Nicholas of Cusa

Part 4 Allies on the Journey

- Athens

- Keats' Negative Capability

- Narnia

- Zen's 'Don't-Know Mind'

Part 5 Apophatic Practices

- Exuberance: Saying and Unsaying in Parable and Poetry

- Pilgrimage

- Liturgy

- Prayer 'in the Cave of the Heart'

Afterword: Running Towards a Stone Tomb

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“This is a timely and very accessible book for an age desperately needing depth as well as direction. The apophatic way of faith is simply life changing. At the place where words and imagination must rightly fail, the apophatic way guides us into the inexpressible mystery and presence of the living God.”


—David Runcorn, priest





“This is an important, timely, and delightful book. Janet Williams carries deep learning with grace and style. Her book is packed with a deeply human wisdom and yet points to something far greater and much more glorious. Here is the God who can truly save us from ourselves.”


—David Hoyle, Dean of Bristol





“The subtitle is 'A Beginner's Guide to Christian Apophatic Spirituality,' and it is exactly that, an overview of the via negativa, a way to reach God by discovering what he is not rather than what he is. I found it a theological page-turner, leading on from the biblical roots starting with Moses, the Song of Songs, and John the Baptist to Jesus; these texts are revisited in succeeding chapters: an explanation of the 'negative way'; exponents such as St. John of the Cross and Meister Eckhart; a fascinating description of related topics, Paul in Athens, Keats's negative capability, the books of Narnia and Zen Buddhism; finally apophatic content in practices such as pilgrimage, liturgy, and prayer. There are useful addenda such as the need for spiritual emptying and humility in the Afterword, and also further reading. You will gather that it is very wide-ranging, indeed breathtaking in its compass, but it is in direct language and easy to read. I would say it is essential for those engaged in spiritual direction and otherwise highly recommended for all.”


—John Foxlee, "The Reader, Winter edition"

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