Intimate Mysteries: The Apophatics of Sensible Love

Krista E. Hughes

in Apophatic Bodies

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230815
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235087 | DOI:

Series: Transdisciplinary Theological Colloquia

Intimate Mysteries: The Apophatics of Sensible Love

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Apophasis is not simply about mystery, but also primarily about language. Thus, a feminist theology of apophasis also needs to ask how it might best express the ineffability of embodied intimacy. The testimonies of the medieval women mystics, supplemented by Hélène Cixous's apophatic confession, together inspire a distinctively feminist contribution to the theological question of apophasis: an apophatics of sensible love that flows from the mysteries of intimacy rather than just foreignness. This chapter traces the contours of what that contribution might be, including a consideration of what kind of apophatic “practice” might best express such a sensible apophasis. It suggests that constructive theologians might strive to cultivate, in Elliot R. Wolfson's words, a certain “speaking away” that springs as much from the sensible, and its loves and delights, as from the invisible and untouchable.

Keywords: apophasis; mystery; language; feminist theology; Wolfson; Cixous; sensible love; intimacy; medieval women mystics

Chapter.  7064 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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