Naming God: Addressing the Divine in Philosophy, Theology and Scripture
In her new book Naming God: Addressing the Divine in Philosophy, Theology and Scripture, Professor Janet Soskice argues that contemporary understandings of divinity could be transformed by a return to a venerable analogical tradition of divine naming.
Generations of Christians once knew God and Christ by hundreds of remarkable names. These included the appellations Messiah, Emmanuel, Alpha, Omega, Eternal, All-Powerful, Lamb, Lion, Goat, One, Word, Serpent, and Bridegroom.
These ancient titles— drawn from Scripture—were chanted and sung, crafted and invoked (in polyphony and plainsong) as they were woven into the worship of the faithful. The 16th century philosopher Descartes moved from naming to defining God via a series of metaphysical attributes. This made God a thing among things: a being among beings. Soskice argues that reclaiming divine naming is not only overdue but can also re-energize the relationship between philosophy and religious tradition, and she shows just how rich and revolutionary such reclamation might be.
Dr. Janet Soskice is William K. Warren Distinguished Research Professor of Catholic Theology at Duke Divinity School. Her work lies at the intersection of Christian theology and philosophy.
Her books include Metaphor and Religious Language (Oxford, 1984); The Kindness of God (Oxford, 2007); and Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Lost Gospels (London: Chatto and New York: Knopf, 2009)