Catherine Keller

On the MysteryOn the Mystery: Discerning God in Process. Fortress, 2008.

“…religious thought within and beyond Christianity cannot be reduced to the delusion of an absolute perspective—which is no perspective at all. As we will see throughout this book, there have been theologians from the start resisting the temptation to identify their best human perspective with divine revelation. There are numerous theological perspectives sensitive to their own relativity, without sliding toward relativism. But articulating this third way within theology remains a lively challenge, and the primary motive of this book. … I am arguing that when people of faith step out of the mystery and make totalizing claims for our truth and our beliefs, we perpetuate an antagonistic polarity that actually paralyzes faith rather than fostering its living processes. ... Theology is not ever identical with faith or with belief—but, rather, motivated by faith, it takes all our beliefs into the evolving perspective of its interactive processes. Theology as process remains—like every living, breathing organism—open-ended.” (On the Mystery, p.4, 10)

God and PowerGod and Power: Counter-Apocalyptic Journeys. Minneapolis: Fortress, 2005.

Apocalypse is going around. As though on cue, we enact a motif, a vignette, a fragment of its narrative: Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and secular. Apocalypse has been cycling through for centuries. But still, if one doesn’t happen to be some sort of fundamentalist, it is not often that one can quote its primary text with such immediacy:
Alas, alas, the great city. / clothed in fine linen, / in purple and scarlet, / adorned with gold. / with jewels, and with pearls! / For in one hour all this wealth has been laid waste! (Rev. 18:16-17)

In the wake of that single hour a global economy, long wasteful of the earth and its poor, shuddered portentously. And consider the fourth seal—the pale horse, sickly green, whose “rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence.” (6:8). So the United State claimed military authority over the far reaches of the earth. Famine threatened Afghanistan: the pestilence of anthrax filtered (all too literally, Latin: “of the letter”) through our letters. A plane fell from the New York sky. Osama “I love death” bin Laden announced his capacity to release the nuclear horse. With theatrical flair Manhattan even performed a very rare earthquake. A good moment for religious literalists! (from the opening of God and Power)


The Face of the DeepThe Face of the Deep: A Theology of Becoming. London: Routledge, 2003.

"This is a groundbreaking, highly original work of postmodern feminist theology from one of the most important authors in the field. The Face of the Deep deconstructs the Christian doctrine of creation which claims that a transcendent Lord unilaterally created the universe out of nothing. Catherine Keller's impassioned, graceful meditation develops an alternative representation of the cosmic creative process, drawing upon Hebrew myths of creation, from chaos, and engaging with the political and the mystical, the literary and the scientific, the sexual and the racial.
As a landmark work of immense significance for Jewish and Christian theology, gender studies, literature, philosophy and ecology, The Face of the Deep takes our originary story to a new horizon, rewriting the starting point for Western spiritual discourse." from


Apocalypse Now and ThenApocalypse Now and Then: A Feminist Guide to the End of the World. Boston: Beacon Press, 1996. Fortress, 2004.

This sweeping, provocative, multidisciplinary work is a major new interpretation of the effects of the Christian prophecy of the Apocalypse on Western history and thought.
Through innovative readings of the Bible, theology and philosophy, feminist and poststructuralist theory, fiction and poetry, Western history, and current politics, Catherine Keller shows how the concept of the Apocalypse has affected the way we think and have thought about text, time, place, community, and gender.
Apocalypse Now and Then reveals the apocalyptic links of movements and events as diverse as colonialism, urbanization, nineteenth-century American feminism, and the current environmental crisis. Throughout the book, Keller constructs an imaginative counter-apocalypse that neither abdicates the prophetic passion for justice nor surrenders to the dooms-end dualisms of the apocalyptic habit. from Beacon Press.


From a Broken WebFrom a Broken Web: Separation, Sexism and Self. Boston: Beacon Press, 1986.

"From a Broken Web has taken up a theme that has become increasingly central in feminist writing--the importance to women of relationship or connection--and examines this theme with such subtlety, complexity, and comprehensiveness that it constitues a new and important contribution to the subject."
-Judith Plaskow

"With creative boldness [Keller] has involved herself in a vision of self that cannot arise without an in-depth consideration of gender, including female identity."
-Nelle Morton


Der Ich-Wahn: Abkehr von einem lebensfeindlichen Ideal. German translation by Erika Wisselinck Zürich: Kreuz Verlag, 1989. Reissued as Penelope verläßt Odysseus: Auf dem Weg zu neuen Selbsterfahrungen. 2nd Edition. Preface by Jürgen Moltmann and Elisabeth Moltmann Wendel. 1993.









EcospiritPolydoxy: Theology of Multiplicity and Relation. Edited with Laurel Schneider. New York: Routledge, 2010. Introduction and “Be a Multiplicity: Ancestral Anticipations.”

Religious pluralism, the collapse of traditional religious institutions, and the growing impact of religious studies on believers have prompted widespread rethinking of what religion is. Polydoxy offers a brilliant and original theological response to this intellectual crisis by suggesting that there are multiple forms of right belief. Reacting against reductive or nostalgic theological tendencies, the chapters in this book by an impressive array of scholars take an exciting and creative approach to theology in the twenty-first century.



EcospiritEcospirit: Theologies and Philosophies of the Earth. Edited with Laurel Kearns. New York: Fordham Press, 2007. Introduction and “Talking Dirty: Ground is Not Foundation.”

We hope, even as we doubt, that the environmental crisis can be controlled. Public awareness of our speciesí self-destructiveness as material beings in a material world is growing, but so is the destructiveness. The practical interventions needed for saving and restoring the earth will require a collective shift of such magnitude as to take on a spiritual and religious intensity.
This transformation has in part already begun. Traditions of ecological theology and ecologically aware religious practice have been preparing the way for decades. Yet these traditions still remain marginal to society, academy, and church.
With a fresh, transdisciplinary approach, Ecospirit probes the possibility of a green shift radical enough to permeate the ancient roots of our sensibility and the social sources of our practice.
From new language for imagining the earth as a living ground to current constructions of nature in theology, science, and philosophy; from environmentalism's questioning of postmodern thought to a garden of green doctrines, rituals, and liturgies for contemporary religion, these original essays explore and expand our sense of how to proceed in the face of an ecological crisis that demands new thinking and acting. In the midst of planetary crisis, they activate imagination, humor, ritual, and hope.


American EmpireThe American Empire and the Commonwealth of God: a Political, Economic, Religious Statement. Edited with David R Griffin, John B. Cobb, Jr,. Richard A. Falk. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2006. “Omnipotence and Preemption.”

"The explosion of 9/11 produced a vast cloud of opportunity. Some were sure that the Middle Eastern turbulence of the end time had finally begun, the rapture sure to follow. For others, 'the New Pearl Harbor' provided the long-awaited opportunity to push for a global hegemony that could stabilize the world. We got neither the messiah nor the stability. Instead, we got a full-blown American empire--a phrase that at the turn of the century still seemed like old leftist rhetoric seeking its own opportunities. At this point, it is up to liberal and progressive religious leaders to make another use of the 'opportunity': not to proliferate homiletically overheated denunciations but to expose theologically the idolatry of U.S. global pretensions. These pretensions oscillate between the military face of empire, emboldened by 9/11, and the incessant voracity of its smoother, bipartisan, economic face. And while U.S. regimes and strategies shift, the political cloud released by 9/11 will take, it now seems, much of the new century to dissipate." -from "Omnipotence and Preemption"

Theology of ErosToward a Theology of Eros: Transfiguring Passion at the Limits of Discipline. Edited with Virginia Burrus. New York: Fordham Press, 2006. Afterword, and “She Talks Too Much: Magdalene Meditations.”

What does theology have to say about the place of eroticism in the salvific transformation of men and women, even of the cosmos itself? How, in turn, does eros infuse theological practice and transfigure doctrinal tropes? Avoiding the well-worn path of sexual moralizing while also departing decisively from Anders Nygren's influential insistence that Christian agape must have nothing to do with worldly eros, this book explores what is still largely uncharted territory in the realm of theological erotics. The ascetic, the mystical, the seductive, the ecstatic--these are the places where the divine and the erotic may be seen to converge and love and desire to commingle. Inviting and performing a mutual seduction of disciplines, the volume brings philosophers, historians, biblical scholars, and theologians into a spirited conversation that traverses the limits of conventional orthodoxies, whether doctrinal or disciplinary. It seeks new openings for the emergence of desire, love, and pleasure, while challenging common understandings of these terms. It engages risk at the point where the hope for salvation paradoxically endangers the safety of subjects--in particular, of theological subjects--by opening them to those transgressions of eros in which boundaries, once exceeded, become places of emerging possibility.The eighteen chapters, arranged in thematic clusters, move fluidly among and between premodern and postmodern textual traditions--from Plato to Emerson, Augustine to Kristeva, Mechthild to Mattoso, the Shulammite to Molly Bloom, the Zohar to the Da Vinci Code. In so doing, they link the sublime reaches of theory with the gritty realities of politics, the boundless transcendence of God with the poignant transience of materiality.
-from Fordham University Press


Postcolonial TheologiesPostcolonial Theologies: Divinity and Empire. Co-editors Mayra Rivera and Michael Nausner. St. Louis: Chalice, 2004.

A theology in tune with postcolonial theory has the potential to creatively inform and transform ecclesial practice. Focusing on the relation of theology to postcolonial theory, Postcolonial Theologies brings together a wide diversity of authors, many of them fresh and exciting theological voices, in essays that are stunningly creative and prophetically lucid. All essays are theologically constructive, not merely deconstructive or critical, in their visions for Christianity. Forming a sort of doctrinal landscape, they emerge under the themes of theological anthropology shaped by ethnicity, class, and privilege; a Christology that intersects the claims of Christ and empire; and a Cosmology that imagines a postcolonial world.
-from Chalice Press


Process and DifferenceProcess and Difference: Between Cosmological and Poststructuralist Postmodernisms. Edited with Anne Daniell. N.Y.: SUNY, 2002. Introduction, pp.1-30, and “Process and Chaosmos: the Whiteheadian Fold in the Discourse of Difference,” pp. 55-72.

The similarities and creative tensions between French-based poststructuralism and Whiteheadian process thought are examined here by leading scholars. Although both approaches are labeled postmodern, their own proponents often take them to be so dissimilar as to be opposed. Contributors to this book, however, argue that processing these differences of theory at a deeper level may cultivate fertile and innovative modes of reflection. Through their comparisons, contrasts, and hybridizations of process and poststructuralist theories, the contributors variously redefine concepts of divinity and cosmos, advance the interaction between science and religion, and engage the sex/gender and religious ethics of otherness and subjectivity.
-from SUNY Press


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