Sunday, April 20, 2014


The 5 Stanza 2014 fragment is being referred to as the 'Brothers Poem,' but it is as much as anything else a poem about what God(s) know and what we can do about it (i.e., the efficacy of prayer, which for Sappho meant poetry).  This happens to resonate with what were among the most important issues for Gregory of Nazianzus: speaking about God with poetic theology, speaking to God in poetic prayer and, to the extent such poetry was truly inspired (i.e., as he deemed it to be by the Πνεῦμα Θεοῦ), speaking for God (even as a god (see, e.g. PG 1397-9, lines 17-8)).

This is not a purely antiquarian issue.  Modern theological thinking is very much focused on the form of speaking theologically (which is relatively independent of the substance of what any theology happens to be about (i.e., whether it is Zeus, Hera or 'God' or no god at all (as in Buddhism and Taoism)).  Observations the German theologian Dorothee Soelle (Sölle) makes about how it is even possible to speak theologically are relevant to understanding this issue.  There is available online here an anthology of her writings that includes a short piece 'God Happens' beginning on page 38 that is worth a read.    

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