02 November 2007

November Poem of the Month

Sonnet 102

How, when He had breathed tetelestai
and died forsaken, sinking into Hell—
the Three Who must eternally be One
somehow undone, and all created selves
down to their cells in fear of separation,
even death from life-beyond-death split
(witness these somnambulic saints in shrouds)—
did not creation fly to blasted bits?
Somehow the Three-in-One encompass Time
inside His timelessness, and thus that rift—
if right it was, which Christ in God-forsaken
agony accused—that mobiüs strip
that never splits Them, splits eternally,
is microcosm for the Triune Mystery.

I wrote this poem after a conversation with "Sesoztai," in which we were pondering what actually happened during the Crucifixion. I would love some recommendations of books to read about this question.

1 comment:

Rosie Perera said...

On the physical aspects of what actually happened during the Crucifixion, this book appears to be quite thorough and gets good reviews:
The Crucifixion of Jesus: A Forensic Inquiry, by Frederick T. Zugibe, M.D., Ph.D.

As for what I suspect you're more interested in, based on the content of your poem, namely how do we interpret Christ's cry of "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" in terms of the unity of the Trinity -- try this one:
Cross-Shattered Christ: Meditations on the Seven Last Words, by Stanley Hauerwas. Here's an interview with Hauerwas about the book. I've never read it, but he's done some good writing on narrative theology which I've read, and his name comes up a lot in the circles of theologians I read and respect, so I'd definitely want to read it myself.

There's also The Cross of Christ by John Stott, which touches on this issue in a few pages.

It might also be interesting to see what the Orthodox say about the Crucifixion, since their emphasis on the relationships among the persons of the Trinity is so important. As can be seen in this review of Bishop Kallistos Ware's significant book The Orthodox Way by an Orthodox writer, there is contention even within their ranks on this obviously very difficult question. But that makes it all the more interesting to read what they say.

Another important book that I think addresses this question is Jürgen Moltmann's The Crucified God. Here's a review by a reader on "This book is more than just good academic theology, it's also life changing. Moltmann's account of a God who suffers with His creation, even to the point of experiencing death itself, was the single most important thing that restored the excitement to my Christian faith and solidified my decision to dedicate myself to the study of theology. It's dense reading at times, but it's also poetic and magical; truly one of the deepest devotional works I've ever read."

And here's an online article (take it for what it's worth; no peer-review) by a pastor writing from a Reformed perspective who delves into this very question and documents his findings with copious footnotes.