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  • Print publication year: 2005
  • Online publication date: September 2009

5 - God


Religious Studies as a discipline would not, of course, exist if people had not used and reflected on the word ‘God’; but where do we start in specifying the issues that might arise in defining the word, especially when its users have habitually shrunk from offering what would usually count as a full-scale definition? What I have aimed at in the pages that follow is an investigation somewhere on the borderlands of theology strictly so-called and the phenomenology of religious discourse, in order to clarify a little of the ‘grammar’ of God in the Abrahamic traditions of faith – those whose material origins lie, broadly, in the eastern Mediterranean regions and which ascribe something like personal agency to the divine, creative causality in respect of the entire contingent universe and providential love towards it. I am not claiming that this is the best place from which to begin constructing a theology. But perhaps it corresponds to what one tradition would have considered as the treatise de deo uno: i.e., considerations of the kind of issue that needs clarification if we are to be sure it is God we're talking about.

A wholly understandable reaction against a theology apparently beginning from considerations of God as a solitary transcendent individual, capable of being considered independently of the history of divine engagement with human experience and history, has led to some impatience with such grammatical exploration.

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