A Peculiar Orthodoxy: Reflections
on Theology and the Arts
Hardback: Baker Academic, 2018
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Review by Danielle Davey Stulac
I first encountered the theological thought of Jeremy Begbie not through printed words, but through vibrating strings. In the chapel of my seminary, I and many others listened, rapt, as Begbie sounded the middle C on the grand piano, and then silently depressed the C an octave higher. To our surprise, we heard not only the middle C, but also the quiet vibration of the higher C. The second string sounded, as Begbie explained, by “sympathetic resonance” with the first. In other words, the sounding of the first C enabled the second note to sound. “How might this phenomenon,” Begbie asked, “help us to think about God?” He went on to observe that in visual models of perception, two bodies cannot occupy the same space. (We cannot see red and yellow in the same space without them blending into orange.) Therefore, equipped only with visual perceptual categories, it is difficult for us to conceive God’s three-in-oneness, or Christ’s two natures, or the co-existence of divine and human agency. But, a simple perceptual shift from visual to aural metaphors can render the classic conundrums of theological thought into pseudo-problems. As a young seminary student (and life-long pianist) contending with these aporias, the implications of this perceptual shift struck me like a hammer on a piano string.