Poetry and the Kenotic Word
Edited By Malgorzata Grzegorzewska, Jean Ward and Mark Burrows
Word into Flesh/ Flesh into Word: The Making of an Incarnational Textuality
1. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …”
In his remarkable trilogy on theology, literature, and the arts – The Sacred Desert, The Sacred Body, and The Sacred Community (published 2004–2012) – David Jasper, radical theologian and Anglican priest, often turns to the text of the Prologue to the Gospel of St. John in what could be described as a decade-long meditation on the theme of “dwelling poetically”. In the second volume, he beautifully articulates what it might mean for us to live in such a way, drawing connections between the provisional nature of the meaning of “dwelt” in John 1:14 (“to dwell is drawn from desert wandering, for it is literally, in the Greek, to ‘tabernacle’ or ‘tent’ – an ever-present being that is permanent and yet shifting” [xiii]) and Martin Heidegger’s conception of “poetic dwelling”. To dwell poetically is
to live within the ‘space’ that is at once a desert, an oasis and a space of literature. It is, in fact, nowhere, and yet it becomes the place of real presence beyond which is a mysterious infinity, a blank but lightening sky. … Poetic dwelling is to acknowledge underlying conditionalities that constitute a fundamental condition of indebtedness: to live is to owe one’s life – to be always in a form of giving – an attitude everywhere recognizable in the ancient desert ascetic. (xiii–xiv)
This sense of poetic dwelling originates from a phrase in a late poem of the German Romantic...
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