Comparative Theology in the Contemporary Australian Context

Oral and Textual Cultures

In: International Journal of Asian Christianity
Anita C. Ray Australian Catholic University, Adelaide, Australia

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This essay examines the practice of comparative theology within the culturally and religiously plural landscape of contemporary Australia. Tracing the early stages of the discipline in Australia to the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at Australian Catholic University (acu) in 2012, the paper tracks its subsequent progress in the vibrant Asia-Pacific region. For the sake of clarity, I investigate a specific example of comparative theology, testing the feasibility of an engagement between Anglo-Celtic Christians and Indigenous Australian peoples. Seeking greater theological depth, I isolate a precise theme—the creation of the universe—and position the Indigenous viewpoint within the oral ‘Dreaming’ myths of the central Australian desert. The Christian perspective derives from written Biblical sources.


This essay examines the practice of comparative theology within the culturally and religiously plural landscape of contemporary Australia. Tracing the early stages of the discipline in Australia to the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at Australian Catholic University (acu) in 2012, the paper tracks its subsequent progress in the vibrant Asia-Pacific region. For the sake of clarity, I investigate a specific example of comparative theology, testing the feasibility of an engagement between Anglo-Celtic Christians and Indigenous Australian peoples. Seeking greater theological depth, I isolate a precise theme—the creation of the universe—and position the Indigenous viewpoint within the oral ‘Dreaming’ myths of the central Australian desert. The Christian perspective derives from written Biblical sources.

In the past fifty or so years the Down Under continent of Australia has evolved exponentially, both geopolitically and socially. Once pigeon-holed for its abundance of sheep, minute human population and Anglo-Celtic culture, it now occupies an enviable place in the Asia-Pacific region. The factors responsible for its “new” multicultural and multireligious essence include the geographical proximity of Asia, immigration, widespread travel, robust business activities and ‘boat people’ fleeing Vietnam after 1975.

However, both blessings and problems can co-exist with cultural and religious pluralism. For instance, during the catastrophic bushfires in the Australian summer of 2019-2020, various faith communities rallied impressively to support one another. Sikhs from Melbourne travelled long distances to cook meals for people overwhelmed by the infernos in East Gippsland, Buddhist monks emerged from their monasteries to provide free massage for weary Rural Fire Service volunteers, and numerous faith groups donated money and expertise to help repair homes and tend to wildlife. Conversely, where there is prejudice and ignorance, pluralism poses a threat to peace.

1 A Collaborative Theological Response to Religious Pluralism

Members of the Faculty of Theology and Philosophy at Australian Catholic University (acu) recognized this situation several years ago and wanted to respond more creatively to the rapidly changing Australian religious landscape. Tired of hackneyed Christian missionary and British colonial invective about “polytheistic”, “idolatrous”, and “heathen” religions, they sought a reinvigorated approach to religious diversity. The visit to Melbourne in 2012 of Harvard Professor Francis X. Clooney proved to be the catalyst for change. His challenge was to adopt an academic and spiritual approach to interreligious learning, cross religious borders, meticulously examine the theological and ethical values enshrined in other faith traditions and listen respectfully. This involves so much more than mere toleration of another religion. Clooney’s model of comparative theology (ct) has a strong theological and philosophical framework and does not seek the submission or assimilation of the other. It preserves the religious identity of all participants and has comparative, dialogical, reflective, and confessional elements. 1

That same year (2012), acu convened a ‘Comparative Theology Reading Group’ to consider the discipline’s potential. The lively group, which continues to meet monthly, includes theologians from the Jewish, Catholic, Anglican, Baptist, Buddhist, Muslim, Hindu, and Indigenous Australian traditions. We also arranged biennial ct conferences for representatives from the Asia-Pacific region and organized a two-day International Comparative Theology Conference in 2019, which attracted 175 delegates. Attendees at all these events have used a range of approaches to ct. Some have concentrated on the wisdom revealed in sacred texts—for example, Christian, Jewish and Islamic approaches to mercy, or Hindu and Christian approaches to meditation—while others have engaged with the performative and material aspects of religion, such as shared pilgrimage sites, art, rituals, icons or religious artefacts.

2 Indigenous Australian Spiritualities and Anglo-Celtic Christianity

For the sake of clarity, this essay isolates a particular example of ct in contemporary Australia, juxtaposing Anglo-Celtic Christian theology and Indigenous Australian spiritualities. 2 Seeking even greater specificity, I select a definite theme—the Creation of the Universe—and identify a precise location, because Indigenous creation stories can vary from ‘country’ to ‘country’. My chosen locale is the central Australian desert, which stretches across three states: The Northern Territory, South Australia, and Western Australia. 3 The peoples (anangu) of this vast expanse belong principally to the Warlpiri, Arrernte (Aranda), Pitjantjatjara, Luritja, Anmetyere and Pintupi cultures.

3 Complexities of the Encounter

3.1 Ethical Concerns: healing the Wounds

Our venture presents significant challenges, the foremost of which relates to the trauma and violence that Australian Aboriginal peoples have experienced at the hands of colonial, government, and Christian missionary powers. Unsurprisingly, they are disinclined to discuss their beliefs with non-Indigenous people. Although they had occupied Terra Australis (‘southern land’) for some fifty thousand years before the first European explorers, convicts and settlers sailed into Botany Bay in 1788, they have endured dispossession, disenfranchisement, and discrimination. The intruders declared the continent terra nullius (‘the land of no one’) and evicted the First Peoples from their lands. 4 Massacres followed and from 1910–1970 the Australian government further fractured relations by forcibly removing Koori children (the ‘Stolen Generation’) from their parents and transporting them to orphanages and mission stations to work as servants and farm hands. 5 This calculated policy of assimilation aimed to sever cultural, kinship and linguistic ties. Indeed, multiculturalism only gained traction in Australia after 1973, when Prime Minister Whitlam passed the Universal Migration Policy. Before that time, the Immigration Restriction Act (1906–1966), also known as the ‘White Australia Policy’, prevented peoples of non-British and non-European origin from entering Australia. Aboriginal Australians were less than second-class citizens. In 2008, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd took a significant step forward, offering Indigenous peoples a formal apology for their ill-treatment, but even so, Australia is the only Commonwealth country with no formal Indigenous treaty.

3.2 Eco-theology

A further problem is that Indigenous Australians regard the land as the very source of life. Everything within the land is charged with the sacred—trees, rivers, rocks, flowers, and waterholes—and their emotional ties to the land run deep. 6 Their strong eco-theological viewpoint as custodians of the land stands in marked contrast to the attitude of many Anglo-Celtic Christians, who comprehend land in terms of real estate, ownership, or mineral wealth.

Ironically, the 2019–2020 fires that caused such unprecedented ecological damage in Australia, destroying 17.9 million acres (7.3 million hectares) of land, annihilating a billion animals and flattening 3,500 homes, could have been reduced had we followed Aboriginal wisdom. Bill Gammage of Australian National University, author of The Biggest Estate: How Aborigines Managed the Land, recently conveyed to HuffPost Australia that he is “absolutely sure” Indigenous strategies would have lessened the 2020 summer crises because Aboriginal Australians from earliest times practiced cultural burning by ‘reading the land’ and igniting ‘trickling fires’ during the cooler months. 7

3.3 Orality and Textuality

Another complexity pertains to the way that Indigenous Australians preserve and communicate truth. They gather with their families around the evening campfire and convey sacred knowledge through multi-media performances. Their enactments rely on memory, repetition, the imagination, mood, mythic narratives and powerful iconographic language, and include poetic compositions, songs accompanied by clapping sticks, a haunting wind instrument called the didgeridoo, visual displays of body painting, and sacred images carved into rocks or etched on bark with an earthy ochre pigment. Moreover, they punctuate their presentations with prolonged silences to enable communal and personal reflection. Interestingly, singing is such a fundamental mode of expression in the central desert that Bill Edwards, a long-serving Australian missionary to the Pitjantjatjara peoples, hypothesizes that, had René Descartes been born in the central Australian desert, he would have counselled canto ergo sum (‘I sing, therefore I am’), rather than cogito ergo sum. 8

Western Christian theology, on the other hand, has depended on written texts since the Reformation, stressing the authority of written scriptures. Still, this need not constitute a problem because the Bible itself derives from oral sources, and even after the introduction of writing and the advent of the printing press, Christians recited the Hebrew scriptures orally. To this day the liturgical and sacramental life of the Anglo-Catholic, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox churches have visual and ritual components. Clearly, both textual and oral modes of transmission are workable.

3.4 Elements of Secrecy

Strong elements of secrecy prevail in Indigenous societies, with knowledge-availability contingent on age, gender, and group consensus. This can present a difficulty for Western-trained Christian theologians, for whom sacred knowledge is unrestricted. If one is to gain essential insights into traditional Australian values and meanings, then one must carefully ‘read’ collectively Indigenous Australian stories, songs, and paintings.

3.5 Different Modes of Consciousness

Australian Aboriginal peoples function with a mode of consciousness different from (though complementary to) that of Western-trained Christian theologians. Whereas the latter prefer to negotiate meaning through cognitive knowledge, Indigenous Australians have a visual, mythopoeic frame of mind. Their poetic correlations materialize from intuitive insights and must be interpreted analogically or metaphorically. 9

3.6 Dissimilar Worldviews

Finally, Indigenous Australians espouse a worldview different from that of non-Indigenous Australians. They hold a collectivistic rather than an individualistic social outlook. Moreover, their spiritualities are generally non-theistic. They do not promote a pan-Aboriginal high god or a pan-Aboriginal Creator Spirit, or make dualistic distinctions between matter and spirit, body and soul, heaven and earth, secular and sacred. Rather, the spirit, human and natural worlds are interdependent. They express this belief in totemic observations that permanently link individuals to multiple totemic powers.

4 Corpora for Analysis Aboriginal Australian Spiritualities: ‘the Dreaming’

Access to the religious imagination of Indigenous Australians is via the ‘Dreaming’, or ‘the Law’. Towards the close of the nineteenth century, the anthropologist Baldwin Spencer and his colleague Frank Gillen coined the term ‘Dreamtime’ to translate the central desert Arrernte (Aranda) words altering, altyerre or altjira and to capture the idea of a great cosmic drama in the primordial past, when superhuman totemic Spirits, also known as Creator Spirits or Ancestral Spirits, emerged from the land, danced their way across the continent and sang the social world into existence. 10 The anthropologist Ted Strehlow emphasized that the phrase altjira rama meant ‘to see eternal things,’ whether or not one is in a dream state, while John Morton associated the word with “calling by name,” and hence with identity. The Aboriginal scholar Marcia Langton affirms that tjukurpa (‘Dreaming’) in her Pintupi-Luritja language has the sense of ‘truth’, ‘straightness’, ‘the way to higher ground’. 11 In brief, the polysemic word means ‘a dream’, the Law, the creation and eternal existence of the world, a person’s totem, identity, or a ‘story’. In his celebrated essay The Dreaming (1956/1987), W. E. H. Stanner observes that the term provides three keys to reality, “a poetic key, explaining the principle that animates all things; a key to truth, collating all that is known of permanencies; and through constant recitation of right and wrong behavior, a key to the norms of conduct.” 12 Stanner adds that the Dreaming is unbounded by time and space and belongs to the eternal now.

One cannot ‘fix’ The Dreaming in time: it was, and is, everywhen… The Dreaming is many things in one. Among them, a kind of narrative of things that once happened; a kind of charter of things that still happen; and a kind of logos or principle of order… 13

4.1 A Vital Life-Force at Work in Creation

Australian Aboriginal creation stories symbolically reflect that an immense power, a primordial sacredness pervades the land. In the beginning the universe was formless and a pre-existent sandy waste subsisted in the central desert. Ancestor Spirits lay dormant within that waste but once they awoke from sleep they crisscrossed the continent in a network of pathways (‘song lines’) and created order out of chaos. 14 They fashioned all the natural features of the landscape: the sand dunes, rocks, springs, trees, water holes, river courses, plains and mountains. They also produced the plants, animals, birds, stars, fish, and humans, as well as discrete ‘countries’, ceremonies, languages, social structures and cultures. Further, they bestowed on their totemic descendants an identity, territory, discrete language, sustenance, and a sense of purpose. When the Ancestor Spirits had finished their work, they left behind their essence and the places where they re-entered the land became sacred sites.

Consider, for example, the Arrernte creation story of Erintja, the devil-dog. 15 An old man lies down in his country and a southerly wind blows sand across his body. Slowly he shakes off the sand, stretches himself, pricks up his ears and transforms into the devil-dog Erintja. Arriving at a waterhole, he notices two sisters preparing a fire and he swallows them. Moving on, he spies a crowd of men attending a corroboree and cautiously watches them the whole night. On the second night, when everyone is asleep, Devil Dog creeps up and swallows them. However, he is unaware that while the men at the corroboree are swinging their bullroarers (tjurunga), one hair from a bullroarer breaks loose and self-transforms into a man. 16 This bullroarer-become-human ponders why the corroboree ground is so quiet and cautiously investigates. He spies the sleeping Erintja and hurls his bullroarer, splitting open Erintja’s face. Thereupon Erintja regurgitates all the people and slinks away underground. When he reaches his own country, he self-transforms into the old man and lies down in the dust. The wind blows from every direction and covers him with sand.

What does the story mean? Aspects of it are baffling for the Anglo-Celtic Christian who expects a structured storyline. Nonetheless, the narrator’s use of the present continuous tense shows that the events are happening now, as well as then. Moreover, the story belongs to a larger narrative, which individuals learn when elders trust them with more information. But even as it stands, the account carries a strong message: stay alert in the bush because danger lurks at every turn. It also reminds us that Ancestor Beings can break through the surface of the earth, self-transform, and wander along Dreaming tracks to replenish or menace the land.

The Erintja story contributes other insights about creation, suggesting for example, that an intricate web connects animal, plant, and human life. The whole idea of a relational cosmos finds clear expression in the Australian Aboriginal totemic system, which aims to preserve societal balance and teach people to collaborate rather than compete with others and to cooperate with nature rather than control it. Additionally, the tale strongly promotes the notion of sacred immanence.

5 Biblical Sources

We must now turn to primary sources of creation belonging to the Western Christian tradition and contained in the Bible. The well-known Genesis hymn, for example, shows that the creation of the world involved formidable reserves of energy and power. 17

In the beginning … when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind sent from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said…” 18

5.1 God, the Source of Creation

In the Christian imagination, God is the primary source of creation. The Genesis text affirms “in the beginning…God created” … order out of a “formless void”. If you are unsure of this fact, declares Job,

Ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; Ask the plants of the earth and they will instruct you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? In His hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of every human being. 19

5.2 Trinitarian Theology and Notions of Relationality

Christianity adopts the position that God is Trinity and associates the entire Trinity with creation. Michael Barnes sums this up succinctly,

The Christian narrative is inescapably Trinitarian: God as the silent source from whom all things proceed, God as the Word who gives form and intelligibility to things, and God as the animating power or spirit who draws all created reality together and inspires words of praise in human beings (p. 260). 20

The doctrine of the Trinity recognizes God as a community of Being, and this is the basis for the Christian vision of a relational universe. 21 The Johannine author states, “That they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us…” 22

5.3 Theology of the Word

The phrase “And God said” dominates the Genesis account, occurring nine times. 23 The word is the creative power and is efficacious, “and it was so”. This power created light, sky, land, vegetation, moon, stars, aquatic creatures, birds, land animals and finally humankind, male and female, “in his image”. In sum, the creative word that came forth from the mouth of God brought everything into existence. And “God saw that it was good” (vv. 4, 8 (lxx), 10, 12, 18, 21, 25), “very good” (v. 31). The Prologue to John’s Gospel closely parallels the Genesis account of creation,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was turned toward God, and what God was the Word also was. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him, nothing was made. What took place in him was life, and the life was the light of humankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 24

Francis J. Moloney pertinently comments that a ‘word’ is essentially about communication. Here, the Word is ‘turned toward God’, a phrase capturing “the intimacy and dynamism” of the relationship, observes Moloney. 25 Even so, the Johannine author does not conflate God and the Word. “The Word and God retain their uniqueness, despite the oneness that flows from their intimacy”. 26 The verses accentuate the connection between God and the logos. The unseen God reveals Himself in the incarnate Word, and Jesus is the Word who predates creation, takes part in creation, shares divinity with God and is the light of the world, shining even in the darkness. According to Genesis 1: 1, before there was anything, there was God. And according to John 1: 1, before there was anything, there was the Word. Jesus Christ incarnates the pre-existent Word, and “what took place in him was life” (John 1.4).

5.4 Theology of the Spirit

Finally, the bible represents the Spirit as the symbol of God’s awesome power, His unseen force and energy. 27 The Genesis account states that, “In the beginning…the wind or spirit (ruach) sent from God ‘hovers over’ the face of the waters, transforming the void (Gen 1.2). The text does not describe the Spirit in anthropomorphic terms, but in images from the natural world: wind, fire, water, breath, and oil. And like the wind, the Spirit is unpredictable, ‘blowing where it wills’ (John 3: 8). It is the dynamic, life-giving Breath of God, yet a profound mystery. 28

It is now clear that Anglo-Celtic Christianity and Indigenous Australian traditions share several comparable intuitions. Both traditions emphasize a powerful life-force at work in the universe, the immanence of the sacred, and the interdependence of all entities, animate and inanimate. These notions run like a subterranean stream through both the Dreaming and the Bible, offering us a solid building block for meaningful comparative theological exchange.

6 Conclusions

Even if the Christian scriptures refer to Middle Eastern gardens, fields, wheat, sheep, cities and taxes, and Aboriginal Australians allude to waterholes, snakes, sand, honey-ants, koalas and kangaroos, nonetheless both traditions express their visionary experiences of creation in symbolic images. Of course, some differences exist between the two sources. For example, according to biblical texts, God created the universe ex nihilo, while Aboriginal Australians hold the view that things simply began; there was no creation plan. Or again, Western Christianity has a tendency to endorse God’s transcendence, almost at the expense of His immanence, while Indigenous myths focus solidly on sacred immanence. However, painstaking study reveals that both these categories—transcendence and immanence—exist freely in Biblical texts. God is beyond the universe yet within it. He is related to creation yet distinct from it. He pervades yet surpasses the world. Jacob experienced God’s immanence when he awoke from sleep, exclaiming, “‘surely the Lord is in this place—and I did not know it!’ And Jacob was afraid, and said, ‘How awesome is this place’” (Gen. 28:16–17). Similarly, Paul declared to the Athenians that the transcendent “God who made the world and everything in it…the Lord of heaven and earth…is not far from each one of us. For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:24–28).

Our endeavor also shows that ct need not be exclusively textual. Oral and textual cultures can engage productively with each other, provided that the textual dialogue partner is prepared to allow time for conversation, is willing to make greater use of the senses and is ready to engage in prolonged intervals of silent reflection.

Finally, the encounter of non-Indigenous and Indigenous Australians challenges Anglo-Celtic Christians to become more ecologically responsible. With our planet in such grave peril, this comparative study demonstrates that we can enhance earth’s prospects of survival by following closely the mandate of Aboriginal Australians and the Book of Revelation, “Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees” (Rev. 7:3).


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Francis X. Clooney, Hindu God, Christian God (NY: oup, 2001), pp. 7–12. Comparative theology is not the same discipline as comparative religions, which approaches theological investigations with scholarly detachment. The goal of ct is to deepen understanding of one’s own tradition yet grasp the spiritual values of another tradition.


Aboriginal Australians prefer to use the term ‘spiritualities’ rather than ‘religions’.


Indigenous Australians include both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. This paper deals only with Aboriginal peoples. The term ‘country’ describes an on-going cultural connection to ancestral land and hence relationship to specific kin, languages, mythic stories, plants, and animals. For the sake of transparency, I wish to acknowledge that I am not an Indigenous Australian. My religious affiliation lies within the Anglican tradition.


‘First Nations Peoples’ is an expression used predominantly in north America. In Australia, it is more common to refer to ‘Australia’s First Peoples’.


Kooris are Indigenous Australians of mixed descent.


John D’Arcy May, Pluralism and Peace: The Religions in Global Civil Society (Melbourne: ­Coventry Press, 2019), pp. 93–101.


Alicia Vrajlal, ‘Indigenous Fire Practitioner: There’s Never Been a More Important Time to Adopt Traditional Burning Methods’, HuffPost Australia, 16 January 2020. Tasmania has now (2020) enlisted the aid of Aboriginal fire experts.


Bill Edwards, ‘Tjukurpa Palya – The Good Word: Pitjantjatjara Responses to Christianity’, in Indigenous Peoples and Religious Change. Peggy Brock, ed (Leiden: Brill, 2005), pp. 129–53, at p. 150.


This is not to imply that Aboriginal peoples do not think logically. One need only see the extraordinary powers of observation of the Aboriginal bush tracker as he searches for a missing person or wounded animal.


WB Spencer and FJ Gillen. The Native Tribes of Central Australia (London: McMillan, 1899).


Marcia Langton, ‘Sacred Geography’, in, M. Charlesworth, F. Dussart and Howard Morphy, eds, Aboriginal Religions in Australia: An Anthology of Recent Writings (Aldershot: ­Ashgate, 2005), pp. 131–139, at p. 132.


W.E.H. Stanner, White Man Got No Dreaming Essays, 1938-1979 (Canberra: Australian ­National University Press, 1979), pp. 23–40, especially pp. 23–4 and 28–9. Stanner’s italics.


W.E.H. Stanner. On Aboriginal Religion. Sydney: Oceania Monograph no. 36, facsimile edition. First pub. 1963. (Sydney: University of Sydney, 1989). Italics in original.


Constant J. Mews, ‘Songlines, Sacred Texts and Cultural Code: Between Australia and Early Medieval Ireland’, in P. Wong, P. Hutchings, S. Bloor and P. Bilimoria, eds, Considering Religions, Rights and Bioethics: For Max Charlsworth. (Cham, Switzerland: Springer, 2019), pp. 201–17. Mews notes that the songlines, though geographical, also “provide a cosmic map, in that they re-connect individuals and peoples to a deeper level of reality, regenerating the world …. they preserve generations of collective knowledge about the land and the life it supports”.


Toranga (Albert Namatjira), the famous Aboriginal artist and Arrernte elder originally narrated this story, which Roland Robinson records in Aboriginal Myths and Legend ­(Melbourne: Sun Books, 1996), pp. 9–14. John Hilary Martin retells the story in ‘Aboriginal Dreaming as a Text’, in Wisdom for Life. Michael Kelly and Mark O’Brien, eds, (Adelaide: atf Press, 2005), pp. 196–201.


The bullroarer is an ancient Australian Aboriginal ritual object and musical instrument that can communicate over vast distances. It consists of a thin flat rectangular-shaped board attached to a string. The item belongs to the category of ‘Men’s Business’ and is not discussed in front of Aboriginal women.


Gen. 1:1–2:3. A second account of creation occurs at Gen. 2: 4–25.


Gen 1:1–3. New Revised Standard Version. For several ideas underpinning this section, I am indebted to the inspiring work of Denis Edwards and Francis J. Moloney. Denis Edwards, Breath of Life: A Theology of the Creator Spirit (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004). Francis J Moloney, The Gospel of John. Sacra Pagina Series, Volume 4, (Minnesota: The ­Liturgical Press, 1998).


Job 12: 7–10. Elizabeth A. Johnson, Ask the Beasts: Darwin and the God of Love (NY: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2014), p. 2.


Michael Barnes, Interreligious Learning: Dialogue, Spirituality and the Christian Imagination (Cambridge: cup, 2012), p. 260.


Edwards, Breath of Life, pp. 132, 142, 176. See also his, Ecology at the Heart of Faith (NY: ­Orbis Books, 2006), pp. 80, 121.


John 17: 21. Revised Standard Version.


Gen. 1: 3, 4, 9, 11, 14, 20, 24, 26, 29.


John 1: 1–18. Moloney, The Gospel of John, p. 33.


Moloney, The Gospel of John, p. 42.


Moloney, The Gospel of John, p. 35.


See Ps. 139: 7–10 and Ezekiel 37: 3–10. Roger Haight. ‘Holy Spirit and the Religions’, in David Jensen, ed, The Lord and Giver of Life: Perspectives on Constructive Pneumatology (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008), 55–69, especially pp. 62–64. The Spirit can blow like a gentle breeze, refreshing all things, or it can surge like a mighty river, bringing devastation in its wake.


Edwards, Breath of Life, pp. 171–9.

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