Theological Aporia and the Cultivation of Desire: Reading Eriugena’s Creatio Ex Nihilo through an Islamic Theo-Poetics
This comparative theological article expands on John Thiel’s article on aporias in theological method. Through an Islamic theo-poetics, it complements the import of hermeneutics in theological method with poetics. In an Islamic theo-poetics, aporias are inverted: they are not impassable walls, but “liminal spaces” through which creative imagination and revelation emerge. Reading Eriugena’s Periphyseon through two Persian love lyrics by Ḥāfiẓ (and a later commentary) draws out the poetics of the former, a dialogue often described as an exercise in dialectical reasoning. Attention to the poetics of aporetics offers another way to understand the role of aporia in theology: to cultivate (infinite) desire for God. Theology is a theo-poetic reflection on the mystery of our communal theo(poïe)sis. Along the way, I indicate how theology construed as poetics—not merely hermeneutics—makes theological aesthetics possible, underscores the role of affective knowledge, and reveals how Eriugena the poet shaped Eriugena the dialectician.