These essays set out to consider the possible future of theology in the light of the so-called postmodern condition. They are necessarily deeply interdisciplinary, since it is a characteristic of post-Enlightenment thought to disintegrate the lines of definition which separate areas of reflection in the human sciences. Theology, we believe, must be exposed to the consequences of what has happened in literature and critical theory if it is to have any future outside the protected and isolated environment of ecclesia and the communities of the faithful.
The authors represent a great diversity of opinion and discipline. Not all of us would agree with one another, and certainly there is no agreement as to what constitutes postmodernity. Yet this very diversity forms the strength and importance of the book, for there are no simple answers or straightforward definitions. Theology must recognize the pluralism within which it now must carry out its task and which alone defines its future.
The keynote of the discussion is the tragic. Tragedy takes us back to the Greeks, and to Nietzsche. Both feature centrally in this presentation. It also suggests a future, a return, perhaps, through literature to theology, and not merely an end of the story as it has been traditionally sold.
David Jasper is Changjing Chair Professor at Renmin University of China