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Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God Hardcover – October 14, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic (October 14, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0826417701
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826417701
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (79 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #343,062 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"In this wonderful, lucid, and challenging book, Elizabeth Johnson not only maps the frontiers of theology but critiques, synthesizes, and appropriates a range of insights to help us fruitfully and humbly expand our grasp of the Loving Mystery who is God." - M. Shawn Copeland, Associate Professor of Theology, Boston College, and past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America


"As Elizabeth Johnson notes, Karl Rahner had an abiding concern that much of Christian theology presented God 'unworthy of belief.' Here Johnson has given us a God truly worthy of our belief, fidelity, and love. Every word breathes with the author's own deep love of God, the church, and the world. Combining her usual theological sophistication with the practical wisdom that comes from a life-long commitment to the life of faith, this is theology as it should be." - Roberto S. Goizueta, Associate Professor of Theology, Boston College, and past president of the Catholic Theological Society of America


"It is a great act of generosity...that such an accomplished scholar would pause in her career-long project to share with us her considerable gifts as a teacher, as she does in her new book...Quest for the Living God is an invitation to its readers to explore some of our best contemporary reflections on the experience of God and topics surrounding the doctrine of God. Written in clear and accessible prose, the book avoids the technical language that peppers scholarly works intended for a professional audience, and takes pains to guide a theologically inexperienced reader through all the issues that inform a particular interpretive concern...It is rare that one finds a book that will appeal to all sorts of audiences, but Quest for the Living God is one. Professional theologians, undergraduate students and literate people of faith will enjoy all that this engaging work has to offer." -John E. Thiel, America, January 21-28, 2008
(John E. Thiel)

"In her new book, Quest for the Living God, she offers a compelling case for several important movements in modern Christian thought. She begins with Karl Rahner's seminal investigations in the 1930s before moving on to various contemporary Christian theologies-and, finally, to the complex connections being forged between Christianity and other world religions...with her usual clarity and precision...It is just such orthodoxy, unhistorical and disembodied, that fails to reach the living God these theologians seek to recover. Elizabeth Johnson's careful analysis reminds us how much we miss when dead birds fall from the pulpit." - Dennis O'Brien, Commonweal, April 11, 2008
(Dennis O'Brien)

"This is another splendid book by Elizabeth A. Johnson...Written primarily for intelligent lay folk, the engaging style of this review of the last 50 years of Christian theology contains Johnson's own insights couched in smooth, economic and yet elegant language with an occasional zinger that sums up a movement or an insight. Johnson's table of contents is a reliable outline of her book; a real help for teachers or study groups who use The Quest for the Living God as I propose to do in an upper level undergraduate research seminar this fall...Johnson lays out the richness of inter-religious dialogues and the urgency of attending to all God's offspring, including the planet and its beautiful burden of living creatures of the sea, the skies, the earth. Theologians give them voices, point to the living Spirit of God creating an evolving world so heedlessly and recklessly squandered by its human users and abusers. The last chapter is a wonder...Johnson's epilogue invites readers to continue the quest for the transcendent and immanent God who invites our conversations and exceeds all we can say." - Jill Raitt, Fontbonne University, Catholic Books Review (http://catholicbooksreview.org)
(Jill Raitt)

"With her characteristic generosity, Johnson surveys a range of new theological currents in the doctrine of God, showing the context in which each idea arose, the theological reasoning behind it, and its implications for spiritual and practical life. Included are chapters on transcendental, political, liberation, feminist, black, Hispanic, interreligious, and ecological theologies, followed by a chapter of trinitarian reflections. Suggestions for further reading conclude each chapter." - Amy Plantinga Pauw, Christian Century, May 6, 2008 (Amy Plantinga Pauw)

"Elizabeth Johnson's Quest for the Living God extends her generous intellectual hospitality to an intriguing array of contemporary Christian doctrines of God, welcoming voices from all over the theological map and providing a common table around which they may hear one another out and be heard with respect. In this spirit, she concludes by leaving the door open rather than closing it with a rash of final pronouncements." - Jenn Cavanaugh, Parabola, Summer 2008 (Jenn Cavanaugh)

"Johnson succeeds in emphasizing the mystery of God and the insatiability of the human quest for encountering that mystery. She illustrates this most effectively by highlighting the diversity of perspectives that fail to exhaust the mystery of God. Perhaps even more impressive than its comprehensiveness is the book's accessibility. Johnson takes the most complex theological themes, such as divine agency and the nature of the Trinity, and makes them intelligible for an introductory level audience. I look forward to using this text in an undergraduate context, trusting that students will receive a substantive and inspiring introduction to the theologies of God." - Erin Brigham, Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2008 (Erin Brigham Anglican Theological Review)

"Johnson speaks of the quest for the living God using the Scripture text 'Like a dry and arid land so does my soul long for you, My God.' St. Augustine experiences this in his quest for God as he stated in his confessions: 'You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.' This is the experience one might have from this book." — Benedictines
(Janelle Maes, OSB)

"This is one of the most important and provocative books on theology to have appeared in the U.S. since Vatican II... I challenge every thinking Christian to read chapter one-they will be so energized that they will rush to go through the whole book." —Joseph Cunneen, The American Catholic (Joseph Cunneen American Catholic Studies)

"It is a great act of generosity...that such an accomplished scholar would pause in her career-long project to share with us her considerable gifts as a teacher, as she does in her new book...Quest for the Living God is an invitation to its readers to explore some of our best contemporary reflections on the experience of God and topics surrounding the doctrine of God. Written in clear and accessible prose, the book avoids the technical language that peppers scholarly works intended for a professional audience, and takes pains to guide a theologically inexperienced reader through all the issues that inform a particular interpretive concern...It is rare that one finds a book that will appeal to all sorts of audiences, but Quest for the Living God is one. Professional theologians, undergraduate students and literate people of faith will enjoy all that this engaging work has to offer." -John E. Thiel, America, January 21-28, 2008
(Sanford Lakoff)

"In her new book, Quest for the Living God, she offers a compelling case for several important movements in modern Christian thought. She begins with Karl Rahner's seminal investigations in the 1930s before moving on to various contemporary Christian theologies-and, finally, to the complex connections being forged between Christianity and other world religions…with her usual clarity and precision…It is just such orthodoxy, unhistorical and disembodied, that fails to reach the living God these theologians seek to recover. Elizabeth Johnson's careful analysis reminds us how much we miss when dead birds fall from the pulpit." - Dennis O'Brien, Commonweal, April 11, 2008
(Sanford Lakoff)

"This is another splendid book by Elizabeth A. Johnson…Written primarily for intelligent lay folk, the engaging style of this review of the last 50 years of Christian theology contains Johnson’s own insights couched in smooth, economic and yet elegant language with an occasional zinger that sums up a movement or an insight. Johnson’s table of contents is a reliable outline of her book; a real help for teachers or study groups who use The Quest for the Living God as I propose to do in an upper level undergraduate research seminar this fall…Johnson lays out the richness of inter-religious dialogues and the urgency of attending to all God’s offspring, including the planet and its beautiful burden of living creatures of the sea, the skies, the earth. Theologians give them voices, point to the living Spirit of God creating an evolving world so heedlessly and recklessly squandered by its human users and abusers. The last chapter is a wonder…Johnson’s epilogue invites readers to continue the quest for the transcendent and immanent God who invites our conversations and exceeds all we can say." - Jill Raitt, Fontbonne University, Catholic Books Review (http://catholicbooksreview.org)
(Sanford Lakoff)

"With her characteristic generosity, Johnson surveys a range of new theological currents in the doctrine of God, showing the context in which each idea arose, the theological reasoning behind it, and its implications for spiritual and practical life. Included are chapters on transcendental, political, liberation, feminist, black, Hispanic, interreligious, and ecological theologies, followed by a chapter of trinitarian reflections. Suggestions for further reading conclude each chapter." - Amy Plantinga Pauw, Christian Century, May 6, 2008 (Sanford Lakoff)

“Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God extends her generous intellectual hospitality to an intriguing array of contemporary Christian doctrines of God, welcoming voices from all over the theological map and providing a common table around which they may hear one another out and be heard with respect. In this spirit, she concludes by leaving the door open rather than closing it with a rash of final pronouncements.” - Jenn Cavanaugh, Parabola, Summer 2008 (Sanford Lakoff)

“Johnson succeeds in emphasizing the mystery of God and the insatiability of the human quest for encountering that mystery. She illustrates this most effectively by highlighting the diversity of perspectives that fail to exhaust the mystery of God. Perhaps even more impressive than its comprehensiveness is the book’s accessibility. Johnson takes the most complex theological themes, such as divine agency and the nature of the Trinity, and makes them intelligible for an introductory level audience. I look forward to using this text in an undergraduate context, trusting that students will receive a substantive and inspiring introduction to the theologies of God.” - Erin Brigham, Anglican Theological Review, Fall 2008 (Sanford Lakoff Anglican Theological Review)

"Johnson speaks of the quest for the living God using the Scripture text 'Like a dry and arid land so does my soul long for you, My God.' St. Augustine experiences this in his quest for God as he stated in his confessions: 'You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you. I tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more.' This is the experience one might have from this book." — Benedictines
(Sanford Lakoff)

"This is one of the most important and provocative books on theology to have appeared in the U.S. since Vatican II... I challenge every thinking Christian to read chapter one-they will be so energized that they will rush to go through the whole book." —Joseph Cunneen, The American Catholic (Sanford Lakoff American Catholic Studies)

About the Author

Elizabeth A. Johnson, C.S.J., is distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University. She has received numerous awards, including the Louisville Grawemeyer Award in Religion for She Who Is (1993), the American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion for Friends of God and Prophets (1999), and the Book Award of the College Theology Society for Truly Our Sister (2004). She was also the recipient of the John Courtney Murray Award of the Catholic Theological Society of America, the Jerome Award of the Catholic Library Association, and the Monika K. Hellwig Award of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.

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Customer Reviews

I highly recommend this book to anyone who is searching for a deeper understanding of God.
Kathy Berken
It deals with current problems and is an excellent exposition of true Catholic (Christian) philosophy - very post-Vatican II.
Bob Abernathy
By this book, with which we may quest for the Living God, she fulfills her life's commitment ever more.
C. Scanlon

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

266 of 281 people found the following review helpful By H.E. Pennypacker on November 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
When I discovered that Elizabeth Johnson had just written a new theology of God I knew I was in for a treat. EJ's "She Who Is" has become one of my most cherished books of theology on the nature of God and wonderfully "Quest for the Living God" is of similar high quality.

While "She Who Is" is an articulation of EJ's feminist perspective on the mystery of God and of a bit more scholarly tone, QFTLG is more popularly written presenting not only God from a feminist perspective but also from liberation, black, hispanic, interreligious, ecological and trinitarian perspectives.

In her multi-perspective approach, EJ attempts to harvest the fruit of more creative contemporary theologies that can open up our understanding of God in fresh ways that foster renewed worship, mystery and reverence. While many theologians write academically and very dryly, EJ sets before us a rich feast for not only the mind but the heart as well. She has something of the poet in her and her writing is a treat to read.

I couldn't imagine a better book to be used for a group book discussion for those of a more progressive Christian orientation. For the student, EJ also includes very helpful book recommendations at the end of each chapter for further reading.

The discussion of God, I believe, is the most pressing concern for Christians today in light of the many fundamentalist distortions highlighted in much of today's media. But more than this, the greatest privilege for God lovers of all stripes and perspectives, is to forever contemplate the limitless grandeur and majesty of our God. To that end, this book admirably succeeds in stimulating contemplative reflection and will be a source of inspiration I suspect I'll be turning to repeatedly over the years.
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72 of 75 people found the following review helpful By Lincoln S. Dall on November 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
I am a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Jackson, Mississippi, a diocese in the Bible Belt that has one of the lowest percentages of Catholics of any diocese in our country. I like books about our faith that challenge me, that get me thinking, that push at the boundaries and frontiers as to how we view God interacting in our lives. Sister Elizabeth Johnson's writings are a gift to us all. While this book has generated great controversy,especially from those approaching it from an academic or doctrinal perspective, I think it is important to see this book not as a statement of official doctrine, but from the perspective of how people experience God in their lives in our modern world. The author does not take a formal scholarly approach, but rather writes a book that will be accessible to the people in the pews. Having ministered in many different places and settings, including to the descendants of escaped slaves in the jungles of Ecuador, to prostitutes and street people in an inner city soup kitchen, to the people located in the rural areas of the Mississippi Delta, to the inmates in the federal and state prisons, I can see the many different ways that God speaks to us. We see God in the midst of our lived reality. By sharing our reality of God with others, I believe that we enrich our Church and enrich our understanding of God. I myself believe in liberation theology, as God speaks to the poor and liberates them in a very special way. My work in liberation theology in the jungles of South America helped liberate me from many things that were weighing me down. I believe in the God of fiesta that is also mentioned in this book, of how God has spoken to the people of Latin America in the midst of their cultural heritage.Read more ›
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163 of 181 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Orlando R. Barone on April 6, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The most recent Amazon reviews of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson's marvelous book on the God who is everywhere are little more than a spate of ringers planted here after a group of Catholic Bishops attacked the work. The attack did not allege any heresy or theological error. It simply states that it is ill at ease with Sr. Elizabeth's insistence that our God is truly everywhere, especially in the poor, the vulnerable, and the oppressed. Their miserly condemnation does not stand up well at all beside Sr. Elizabeth's bracing generosity.

If you want God-talk that has a traditional Catholic lilt, check out the authorized Catholic Catechism. It doesn't need to be rewritten; it's there trussed up in all its medieval busks, corsets, mantles, and surcoats, and nothing Sr. Elizabeth writes contradicts any of it. She simply knows that our God is not bound by any era's intellectual corsets, and THAT's pure Catholic doctrine (Aquinas, Summa Theologicae, 1a, 13).

Her book will not mislead Catholics about God; it simply won't bore them to death. Yes, God is eternal; he doesn't need updating. But we humans do need updating. Just as Augustine used the Platonic lingo current in his time (and NOT in scripture) to bring the Triune God to the people of the 5th century and Aquinas cribbed from Aristotle (NOT in scripture) and the medieval philosophers to square God with 13th century ways of thinking, so Sr. Elizabeth finds the same immutable God in the fabulously mutable world of 21st century humanity.

I think she committed the cardinal sin of Catholic teaching: being interesting.

She (Sr. E, not God) is following in a 2,000 year old tradition that started with Jesus's rather noted update in the 1st century: "You have heard it said...but I say to you..."
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