This book constitutes the first volume of a three-volume study of Christian testimonies to divine suffering: God's Wounds: Hermeneutic of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering, Divine Vulnerability and Creation. This study first develops an approach to interpreting the contested claims about the suffering of God. Thus, the larger study focuses its inquiry into the testimonies to divine suffering themselves, seeking to allow the voices that attest to divine suffering to speak freely, to discover and elucidate the internal logic or rationality of this family of testimonies, rather than defending these attestations against the dominant claims of classical Christian theism that have historically sought to eliminate such language altogether from Christian discourse about the nature and life of God. Through this approach this volume of studies into the Christian symbol of divine suffering then investigates the two major presuppositions that the larger family of testimonies to divine suffering normally hold: an understanding of God through the primary metaphor of love ("God is love"); and an understanding of the human as created in the image of God, with a life (though finite) analogous to the divine life--the imago Dei as love. When fully elaborated, these presuppositions reveal the conditions of possibility for divine suffering and divine vulnerability with respect to creation.
Endorsements & Reviews-
"Jeff Pool has written a thorough and thoughtful study of the issues raised regarding a God who suffers. His careful and groundbreaking work ranges widely across the theological disciplines, including the biblical fields, evident not least in his remarkably inclusive bibliography. All who will address this theme in the next generation must take this study seriously into account." --Terence E. Fretheim, Luther Seminary
"Taking his personal direction from Bonhoeffer, 'Only the suffering God can help,' Jeff B. Pool opens up an alternative Christian understanding of the symbol of God's wounds. With astonishing breadth of scholarship and critical insight, he draws upon the resources of the Christian tradition to set forth a vision of hope for the post-modern and post-Christian worlds. His personal engagement with this symbol--it is not 'doctrine,' he argues--provides a rich and inviting 'hermeneutic of love.' It is God and God's suffering, creative love that shine through these pages." --Frank D Rees Whitley College, University of Melbourne
"With rigor and discipline--and moving deftly across many streams of analogy, Scripture, and creaturely experience--Jeff Pool guides us deep into the symbolism of God's suffering and vulnerability and undertakes a new mapping of the divine and human 'logic of love.' The culminating chapters of this first volume of God's Wounds are among the most succinct theological-ethical interpretations of the paradigm of God and humanity constituted as love that I have read." --Larry D. Bouchard, University of Virginia
Jeff B. Pool
Jeff B. Pool is Associate Professor of Religion, College Chaplain, and Director of the Campus Christian Center, Berea College, Berea, Kentucky.