God’s Wounds: Hermeneutic of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering (Volume I: Divine Vulnerability and Creation)

By Jeff B. Pool

Volume I of a groundbreaking study examining the suffering of God in Christian tradition, revealing new insights into the relationship between God and creation.

ISBN: 9780227173596


God’s Wounds: Hermeneutic of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering, Volume I: Divine Vulnerability and Creation is the first of a three-volume study of Christian testimonies to divine suffering. The larger study focuses its inquiry on the testimonies to divine suffering themselves, seeking to allow the voices that attest to divine suffering to speak freely. The goal is then to discover and elucidate the internal logic or rationality of this family of testimonies, rather than defending these attestations against the dominant claims of classical Christian theism that have historically sought to eliminate such language altogether from Christian discourse about the nature and life of God.

In this first volume, the author develops an approach to interpreting the contested claims about the suffering of God. Through this approach to the Christian symbol of divine suffering, he then investigates the two major presuppositions that the larger family of testimonies to divine suffering normally hold: an understanding of God through the primary metaphor of love (‘God is love’); and an understanding of the human as created in the image of God, with a life (though finite) analogous to the divine life – the imago Dei as love. When fully elaborated, these presuppositions reveal the conditions of possibility for divine suffering and divine vulnerability with respect to creation.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Jeff B. Pool is Associate Professor of Religion, College Chaplain, and Director of the Campus Christian Center, Berea College, Berea, Kentucky.


Prologue: Terrible Sublimity of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering

Part One: Orientations for Encounter with the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering
Introduction to Part One: Approaching the Symbol

1. Delimitation of the Problem
2. Procedural Principles
3. Hypothetical Structure of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering

Part Two: Presuppositions of the Christian Symbol of Divine Suffering
Introduction to Part Two: Conditions of Possibility for Divine Suffering

Division One: Divine Lover: Self-limiting Divine Creator
Introduction to Division One: Divine Life and Creative Activity
4. Divine Lover: Divine Life As Love
5. Divine Lover: Divine Life As Love in Creation

Division Two: Beloved Human: Imago Dei and Imitatio Dei As Love
Introduction to Division Two: Human Life as Image and Imitation of God
6. Beloved Human: Imago Dei As Love
7. Beloved Human: Imitatio Dei As Love
8. Human Life As Caritas and the Cosmos

Epilogue: From Divine Vulnerability to Divine Suffering

Index of Scriptures
Index of Persons
Index of Topics


Endorsements and Reviews

Jeff Pool has written a thorough and thoughtful study of the issues raised regarding a God who suffers. His careful and groundbreaking work ranges widely across the theological disciplines, including the biblical fields, evident not least in his remarkably inclusive bibliography. All who will address this theme in the next generation must take this study seriously into account.
Terence E. Fretheim, Luther Seminary

Taking his personal direction from Bonhoeffer, ‘Only the suffering God can help’, Jeff B. Pool opens up an alternative Christian understanding of God’s wounds. With astonishing breadth of scholarship and critical insight, he draws upon the resources of the Christian tradition to set forth a vision of hope for the post-modern and post-Christian worlds. His personal engagement with this symbol – it is not ‘doctrine’, he argues – provides a rich and inviting ‘hermeneutic of love’. It is God and God’s suffering, creative love that shine through these pages.
Frank D. Rees, Whitley College, University of Melbourne

With rigor and discipline – and moving deftly across many streams of analogy, Scripture, and creaturely experience – Jeff Pool guides us deep into the symbolism of God’s suffering and vulnerability and undertakes a new mapping of the divine and human ‘logic of love.’ The culminating chapters of this first volume of God’s Wounds are amongst the most succinct theological-ethical interpretations of the paradigm of God and humanity constituted as love that I have read.
Larry D. Bouchard, University of Virginia