Thursday, July 15, 2021

Theology as palimpsest

In antiquity as well as in the Middle Ages, due to the scarcity of parchment, people would often write new texts on top of earlier written parchments. The term denoting such writings is “palimpsest." Metaphorically, I suggest that authentic theology is a palimpsest: scholarly, disciplined thinking grafted upon prayer.

Prayer is either exceedingly urgent, exceedingly relevant, or inane and useless. Our first task is to learn to comprehend why prayer is an ontological necessity. God is hiding, and man is defying. Every moment God is creating and self-concealing. Prayer is disclosing or at least preventing irreversible concealing. God is ensconced in mystery, hidden in the depths. Prayer is pleading with God to come out of the depths. “Out of the depths have I called Thee, O Lord” (Psalms 130:1).—Abraham Joshua Heschel in Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays, 258

<idle musing>
I like that: theology is a palimpsest. It adds an urgency and relevance to prayer that otherwise might be lacking.

May your theology ever be enlightened by your prayer life!
</idle musing>

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