Associate Professor Simon Podmore
Theology, Philosophy and Religious Studies
0151 291 3573
I am a systematic and philosophical theologian and currently Associate Professor in the Department of Theology, Philosophy, and Religious Studies. Broadly conceived, my research and teaching explores the confluence between constructive, philosophical, and mystical theology, psychotherapy, and the arts. After completion of my doctorate (King's College, London), I undertook training and work in Counselling and Mental Health Services (in the NHS and University sector). Following this formative period, which helped shape both my pedagogy and my research interests, I held teaching and research positions at the University of Edinburgh and St Olaf College (USA). Immediately prior to my current post at Liverpool Hope, I held the Gordon Milburn Junior Research Fellowship at Trinity College, Oxford in conjunction with the award of a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Faculty of Theology, University of Oxford (2010-13). I hold a PhD from KingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s College, University of London (AHRC funded) and an M.A. (Hons.) in Theological Studies from the University of St. Andrews, where I was awarded the prestigious Miller Prize in Arts. I am co-founder of The Mystical Theology Network (http://users.ox.ac.uk/~rege0676/), established in order to reflect upon the status currently being assigned to the mystical and the apophatic within theology today; and former Secretary of the SÃƒÂ¸ren Kierkegaard Society of the United Kingdom (www.kierkegaard.org.uk).
I am especially interested in questions surrounding the relationship between self-consciousness and consciousness of God. This interest is motivated by a particular concern with the radical otherness of God, on the one hand; and, on the other, the prospect of divine union in which such alterity seems to diminish. My first book, Kierkegaard and the Self Before God: Anatomy of the Abyss (Indiana University Press, 2011), explores the difficult relationship between consciousness of self and consciousness of God with reference to the problem of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“infinite qualitative differenceÃ¢â‚¬Â� between the human and the divine. I develop related themes in Christian spirituality further in my current monograph, Struggling with God: Kierkegaard & the Temptation of Spiritual Trial (James Clarke & co., 2013). This book provides both a reconstruction and a contemporary constructive account of the category of spiritual struggle (Anfechtung) in relation to mystical, Lutheran, and existential theology; the nature of evil and the secret of suffering; kenosis-in-ekstasis; the desire of Spirit; and the darkness of God.
I am currently writing my third single-authored monograph, Dark Night of the Holy: Apophatic Abyss and Negative Numinous, which develops a distinctive theological approach to traumatic images of God by drawing on the notions of the Numinous and the apophatic strategies of mystical thought in Christian and Jewish traditions. I am also currently undertaking an MA by Research (Distance-Learning) in Jewish and Holocaust Studies at the University of Birmingham. My thesis explores the under-developed relation between Kabbalistic studies and (post-)holocaust theology, with particular focus on how kabbalistic notions of Tzimtzum, or divine Ã¢â‚¬â„¢contractionÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, inform the search for a mystical theodicyÃ¢â‚¬â€�a theodicy that, rather than offering a conclusive answer to the problem of evil remains inexorably open-ended.
I tend to be drawn to the darker, and hence often under-examined, aspects of theology and their relationships with issues in philosophy, spirituality, and mental health (see here to listen to my contribution to BBC Radio 4Ã¢â‚¬â„¢s Beyond Belief on the topic of Ã¢â‚¬ËœReligion and FearÃ¢â‚¬â„¢: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01lhbgs). My research explores the inter-faces between theology, philosophy, spirituality, and mental health, with a particular emphasis upon the darker and liminal aspects of religious interiority (melancholia; despair; anxiety; acedia; doubt; guilt; temptation; spiritual struggle [Anfechtung]; God-forsakenness; trauma; death and dying).
I am happy to hear from potential research students interested in working in areas such as:
The thought, influences, and reception of SÃƒÂ¸ren Kierkegaard/Rudolf Otto/Martin Luther
Jewish (Kabbalah) and Christian Mysticism
Theology and Philosophy of the Shoah (Holocaust)
The problems of Suffering and Evil
Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Religious and 'Transcendent' Experience
Continental Philosophy of Religion
The relationships between Theology, the Arts, and Psychotherapy
Struggling with God: Kierkegaard & the Theology of Spiritual Trial (Cambridge: James Clarke & Co., 2013)(http://www.jamesclarke.co/product_info.php/products_id/1920)
Kierkegaard & the Self Before God: Anatomy of the Abyss (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011) (http://www.iupress.indiana.edu/product_info.php?products_id=498266)
David Lewin, Simon D. Podmore, and Duane Williams (eds.), Mystical Theology and Continental Philosophy: Interchange in the Wake of God, (Routledge, 2017)
Louise Nelstrop & Simon D. Podmore (eds.), Exploring Lost Dimensions in Christian Mysticism: Opening to the Mystical (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013) (http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781472419002)
Louise Nelstrop & Simon D. Podmore (eds.), Christian Mysticism and Incarnation Theology: Between Transcendence and Immanence (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013) (http://www.ashgate.com/isbn/9781409456704)
Articles/chapters in edited volumes
Ã¢â‚¬ËœLuther in Modern European PhilosophyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in The Oxford Encyclopedia of Martin Luther, edited by Derek Nelson and Paul Hinlicky (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017). Online version in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Religion. Article published 2017. Oxford University Press, 2014Ã¢â‚¬â€œ.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Spiritual Trial of Divine Seduction: Temptation and the Confessing SelfÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in Pafenroth and Russell (eds.) Augustine & Kierkegaard, Augustine in Conversation: Tradition and Innovation Series (Rowman & Littlefield, 2017), pp. 63-87.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœMysterium Secretum et Silentiosum: Praying the Apophatic SelfÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in Lewin, Podmore, Williams (eds.) Mystical Theology and Continental Philosophy (Routledge, 2017), pp. 197-216.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe AnarchÃ„â€œ of Spirit: ProudhonÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Anti-Theism and KierkegaardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Self in Apophatic PerspectiveÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in Alexandre Christoyannopoulos and Matthew Adams (eds.), Essays in Anarchism and Religion (Stockholm University Press/Open Access, 2017), pp. 238-282.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœTheophany of the Abyss: Job and the Negative NuminousÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in Harmut Von Sass and Leonie Ratschow (eds.), GodÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Spiritual Trial: A Paradigm Shift in Engaging Theologically with the Book of Job/Die Anfechtung Gottes: Ein Paradigmenwechsel in der theologischen Auseinandersetzung mit dem Hiobbuch (Leipzig: Evangelische Verlagsanstalt, 2016), pp. 233-261.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœTransfiguring Forgiveness: The Apophatic Self and the Way of ForgettingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in C. Stephen Evans and Paul Martens (eds.), Kierkegaard and Christian Faith (Baylor University Press, 2016)
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Forgotten and the God-forsaken: The Apophasis of ForgivenessÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in Johannes Zachhuber & Hartmut Von Sass (eds.), Forgiving & Forgetting: At the Margins of Soteriology (TÃƒÂ¼bingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2015)
Ã¢â‚¬ËœBetween Sociology, Anthropology, and Psychology: The Insider/Outsider SelfÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in Jon Stewart (ed.), The Blackwell Companion to Kierkegaard (Oxford: Blackwell, 2015)
Ã¢â‚¬ËœMysterium Horrendum: Mystical Theology & the Negative NuminousÃ¢â‚¬Ëœ, in Louise Nelstrop & Simon D. Podmore (eds.), Exploring Lost Dimensions in Christian Mysticism: Opening to the Mystical (Ashgate, 2013), pp. 93-116
Ã¢â‚¬ËœTransforming Presence: Incarnation Between Transcendence and ImmanenceÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ (Introduction), in Louise Nelstrop & Simon D. Podmore (eds.), Christian Mysticism and Incarnation Theology: Between Transcendence and Immanence (Farnham: Ashgate, 2013), pp.1-12
Ã¢â‚¬ËœMysticismÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Secret: A Silent Prayer of UnknowingÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in Hartmut Von Sass (ed.), Stille Tropen: Zur Rhetorik und Grammatik des Schweigens (MÃƒÂ¼nchen: Verlag Karl Alber, 2013), pp. 218-239.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœMy God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? Between Consolation & DesolationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in Christopher C.H. Cook (ed.), Spirituality, Theology & Mental Health: Multidisciplinary Perspectives (London: SCM Press, 2013), pp. 193-210.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Abyss of the Heart: Transfiguration and the Imago DeiÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in KrÃƒÂ¡lik et al (eds), Acta Kierkegaardiana VI: Kierkegaard and Human Nature (Toronto and Ã…Â alÃ¢â‚¬â„¢a: Kierkegaard Circle, 2013), pp. 88-104.
Ã¢â‚¬ËœA TheologianÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Response: Otherness in DialogueÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, in G. Pattison & H. M. Jensen, KierkegaardÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Pastoral Dialogues (Wipf and Stock, 2012), pp. 113-121
'Ã¢â‚¬Å“To Die and Yet Not DieÃ¢â‚¬Â�: Kierkegaard's Theophany of Death', in Patrick Stokes & Adam Buben (eds.), Kierkegaard & Death (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2011), pp. 44-64
Ã¢â‚¬ËœCarl Rogers: Ã¢â‚¬Å“To Be That Self Which One Truly IsÃ¢â‚¬Â�Ã¢â‚¬â„¢, in Jon Stewart (ed.), Kierkegaard Research: Sources, Reception and Resources: Volume 13: Kierkegaard's Influence on the Social Sciences (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011), pp. 239-258
'The Infinite Quality of Forgiveness: The (Im)possible and the (Un)forgivable', in C. Diatka and R. KrÃƒÂ¡lik (eds.) Acta Kierkegaardiana Vol III: Kierkegaard and Christianity (Mexico City/Barcelona/Sala: Sociedad Iberoamericana de Estudios Kierkegaardianos, University of Barcelona, Kierkegaard Society in Slovakia, 2008), pp. 117-131
'Struggling With God: Kierkegaard/Proudhon', in C. Diatka and R. KrÃƒÂ¡lik (eds.) Acta Kierkegaardiana Vol II: Kierkegaard and Great Philosophers (Mexico City/Barcelona/Sala: Sociedad Iberoamericana de Estudios Kierkegaardianos, University of Barcelona, Kierkegaard Society in Slovakia, 2007), pp. 90-103
'The Dark Night of Suffering & the Darkness of God: God-forsakenness or Forsaking God in Gospel of Sufferings & St. John of the Cross', in Robert Perkins (ed.), International Kierkegaard Commentary: Upbuilding Discourses in Various Spirits (Macon, Georgia: Mercer University Press, 2005), pp. 229-256
Articles in peer-reviewed Journals
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Holy as Wholly Other: Kierkegaard on Divine AlterityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, The Heythrop Journal 53.1 (2012), pp. 9-23
Ã¢â‚¬ËœThe Sacrifice of Silence: Fear & Trembling & the Secret of FaithÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, International Journal for Systematic Theology Volume 14.1 January 2012, pp. 70-90
Ã¢â‚¬ËœLazarus & The Sickness Unto Death: An Allegory of DespairÃ¢â‚¬â„¢, Journal of Religion & the Arts 14.4, 2011, pp. 486-519
'Kierkegaard as Physician of the Soul: On Self-Forgiveness & Despair', Journal of Psychology & Theology, Fall 2009, Volume 37, Number 3, pp. 174-185
'Crucified by God: Kazantzakis & The Last Anfechtung of Christ', Literature and Theology Vol. 22 No. 4 December 2008, pp. 419-435
'The Lightning and the Earthquake: Kierkegaard on the Anfechtung of Luther', The Heythrop Journal XLVII (2006), pp. 562-578