Reading the Gospel of John Through the Eyes of Poetry

Date(s) - 09/06/2014
9:00 am - 1:45 pm

Northway Christian Church


Reading the Gospel of John Through the Eyes of Poetry
The Ninth Fay and Alfred C. Grosse Seminar on Religion and the Literary Arts
September 6, 9:00 a.m. to 1:45 p.m.
Northway Christian Church, Dallas

The Gospel of John is structured to bring its readers into a series of confrontations with the rich, enigmatic claims Jesus makes about himself. John does not so much talk us into belief as draw us into a struggle to taste and see and understand. We will construct together a literary reading of the Gospel, unfolding the way John’s structural patterns and deepening repetitions set up opportunities for the words of Jesus to address us. And we will turn, at regular intervals, to the work of such poets as Emily Dickinson, George Herbert, Richard Wilbur, R.S. Thomas, Paul Mariani, and Jorie Graham to dramatize what hearing the words of this text looks like. Poets are our best readers, and as we slowly work our way through their dramatizations of approaching and considering, leaping forward and coming to a halt, we will find models for the work all of John’s readers are called to do.


20140906_Thomas_GardnerThomas Gardner, Alumni Distinguished Professor of English, Virginia Polytechnic Institute
Thomas Gardner is a professor, poet, playwright, and literary critic. His books include Regions of Unlikeness: Explaining Contemporary Poetry, A Door Ajar: Contemporary Writers and Emily Dickinson, and most recently, John in the Company of Poets: The Gospel in Literary Imagination. The novelist Marilynne Robinson has described this book as “a moving proof that not only the Word but also the word, when it is searched out, weighed and savored, is full of grace and truth.” His book of prose meditations, Poverty Creek Journal, is due out this fall from Tupelo Press. He is an elder at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church in Blacksburg, Virginia where he and his wife live. They have two grown daughters and three grandchildren.