Original Research

Of Eden and Nazareth: Stories to capture the imagination

Yolande Steenkamp
Verbum et Ecclesia | Vol 38, No 1 | a1713 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ve.v38i1.1713 | © 2017 Yolande Steenkamp | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 December 2016 | Published: 30 June 2017

About the author(s)

Yolande Steenkamp, Department of Dogmatics and Christian Ethics, University of Pretoria, South Africa


In pursuit of counter-traditions that have read the Eden narrative without subscribing to the Christian fall–redemption paradigm, this article engages Richard Kearney’s hermeneutical– phenomenological reading of the imagination to explore new avenues for imagining sin and salvation along post-metaphysical lines. The first section provides insights proceeding from an intratextual reading of the Eden narrative. The second section proceeds to incorporate the biblical and rabbinical concept of the yetser to elaborate the reading described above. The section follows Kearney’s reading of the Eden narrative to elicit the imagination along ethical lines as humanity’s passion for the possible. The third section reads the annunciation narrative along these same lines, illustrating how a divine kingdom of justice and love is possibilised by an imagination captured by divine promise and hospitality. By reading these two narratives together through the lense of the imagination, novel ways of rethinking sin and salvation along post-metaphysical lines emerge that portray salvation as human participation in God’s ongoing creation of justice and love, thus enabling the God Who May Be.

Intradisciplinary and/or interdisciplinary implications: This article is relevant to the fields of philosophy, philosophy of religion and theology. The narratives of fall and promise, previously read by philosopher Richard Kearney in different contexts and not in relation to one another, are read here from a decidedly theological point of view.


Annunciation; Eden narrative; Original Sin; Imagination; Hospitality; yetser; Eschatology


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