Blake List — Volume 1995 : Issue 5

Today's Topics:
	 Re: Kenosis
	 Re: Kenosis
	 Re: Kenosis
	 Re: Kenosis
	 Blake and Hegel


Date:         Thu, 27 Jul 95 13:21:12 CDT
From: Mark Trevor Smith 
Subject:      Re: Kenosis
Message-Id: <>

On Tue, 25 Jul 95 15:27:29 EDT Kevin Lewis said:
>Kenosis: self-emptying
>This is a term with a long history in Christian theology. A kenotic Christ
>is a Christ who gives himself to the world; the godhead in him is giving
>and emptying itself into and for the Creation. To term this "atheistic"
>is to label in haste a concept and term which Christian theologians have
>rather obviously found congenial. (The word I keep seeing in Altizer's
Yes, I did label in haste, and I hope I will be forgiven for using
shorthand in this hasty yet permanent medium.  Of course kenosis is not
Altizer's term, but I was emphasizing how crucial it was in his
explanations of Blake and how important I found it for deeper
understanding of Blake's religion.  I especially enjoyed his term
"Christian atheist" because it maintains the theological emphasis while
giving us the paradoxical reversal.  Incidentally, the head of religious
studies at Stony Brook, a colleague of Altizer (in English and rel depts),
told me that THE NEW APOCALYPSE was very good theology.

>writings is "reversal" -- he's in favor of reversals, as many as possible
>apparently. Blake as an "atheist" would be an example. So this makes him
>fun to read! Well.....)
Yes, fun, but also Blakean in a way that no one else has quite achieved:
Altizer gives us ways to understand Blakean blasts, to see beyond the

>To repeat: Altizer told me once that A.L. Morton (_The Everlasting Gospel_)
>showed him what direction to take when he wrote that early book about Blake.
>Kevin Lewis


Date: Thu, 27 Jul 1995 14:16:21 -0500
Subject: Re: Kenosis
Message-Id: <>

I think Mark is correct in his comparison and melding of Altizer's and
Thompson's views, though I am a bit edgy about dissolving apparent
contraries.  My question, however, was directed not at Altizer's
formulation (which I read so long ago that I appreciate the
refreshed memory in the citations) but at the more traditional
trinitarian belief and its relation to the notion of kenosis in
the context of a belief in the Divine Trinity as opposed to what
were from that perspective heretical concepts.  Of course Blake
is much closer to Altizer's and the Muggletonian's views, as
described in Mark's post, than to traditional Anglican Christology.
That Jesus of the Trinity should empty himself of divinity to become
human, leaving the Father and Holy Spirit to hold the divine fort,
is quite a different matter from the notion of the single and only
God infusing Mary's womb and becoming the Divine Self of Jesus on
earth, and that is the contrast I thought Thompson was developing.
Altizer introduces a challenging new dimension.
Tom Dillingham ( persisting in
my folly


Date:      Thu, 27 Jul 1995 19:14:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Avery F. Gaskins" 
Subject:   Kenosis
Message-Id: <>

Kenosis is (as are many abstract notions) open to the creative inventions of
any inventive mind, and so open to both interpretations given so far. Let me
offer a third, although I don't know how relevant it is to Blake, since I don't have a good grasp of his readings. As I have read about it it in other contexts I have instinctively linked it with the concept of "the flowing" by Plotinus.

In it, the godhead becomes overfull and empties out into the universe.  He's
never completely empty because that is an impossibility for a god. This concept is something Blake might have come across since Coleridge was reading Plotinus in 1797 as he was conferring with WW on *Lyrical Ballads.* I've always thought it was the source of WW's phrase "spontaneous overflow" since later, Coleridge argues that the poet's genius   is the mundane equivalent of God's creativity.

I know that I am getting off Blake, but thought I would throw that out. The
link with the Muggletonians is obviously more solid. But, I should add, that in this Neo-platonic notion of Jesus, even in his human form, he could never empty himself completely, otherwise what is the meaning of the miracles?

                                   Avery Gaskins


Date: Thu, 27 Jul 1995 20:39:46 -0500
Subject: Re: Kenosis
Message-Id: <>

Kathleen Raine has labored mightily to establish Blake's debt to the
neo-Platonic tradition, especially through his supposed knowlege of
the works of Thomas Taylor, who was certainly known to Coleridge, but
might have slipped by Blake.  Certainly there are notable parallels
in Plotinus, as there are in, for example, Heraclitus, to Blake's 
ideas.  The intersections suggest an infinite web, though most of
us can see only a few of the intersections at a time.
Tom Dillingham ( persisting in
my folly


Date: Fri, 28 Jul 95 15:36:23 EDT
From: Kevin Lewis 
Subject: Re: Kenosis
Message-Id: <>

The Muggletonians *did* believe that when Jesus died on the cross God had
died, and that, until he (God/Jesus) quickened himself back to life in the
grave and rose from the dead, there was no divinity to be found anywhere
in or beyond the Creation. The Muggles were a plain-spoken people who gave
no credence to the paradoxes and contradictions upon which historical
Christian doctrine has been built. (They were anti-Trinitarian.) God was
a man six feet high, in heaven as God and for a time on earth as Jesus, one
and the same person.

The Muggles did not believe in the availability of Jesus as a spiritual
entity. The mysticism of Pauline atonement theory did not sit well with
these common sense folks. Blake's Jesus (as we find him in the writings)
is functionally (theologically) different from this Muggletonian Jesus,
who was a discrete one-time-only God-man who lived only in one time and
in one place and in one material mode of existence.

Altizer is fun; that's his reputation. (Believe me, theological circles
need a little fun now and then.) How seriously he is taken by other
theologians is another issue. His colleague at Stony Brook may tell us
the Blake book is good theology. I guarantee no theologians read it.
Altizer finds his circle among those who attend the radical caucus at the
AAR meetings. Like Blake, he works the holy fool role, and pays the price.
I would suggest as commentators on Blake's religiousness Jerry McGann in
_Blake's Sublime Allegory_ (Wittreich, Curran), and Mollyanne Marks long
ago in _Blake Studies_. And Leo Damrosch in _Symbol and Truth_. Altizer,
by contrast, is a "genius" who can leave you stranded in left field. (I
mean what is Hegel to Blake or Blake to Hegel! If the answer for you is
that they do indeed illuminate each other, then try David Punter's
_Blake, Hegel, and Dialectic_)

Kevin Lewis


Date: Wed, 02 Aug 1995 12:46:55 -0400 (AST)
From: Chantell L MacPhee 
Subject: Blake and Hegel

I have a couple of questions that I would like to pose to all of you 
on this list. Is anyone aware of a philosopher (German or English) who 
may have had similar ideas to Hegel, but who was familiar to Blake? 
Also, is anyone aware of a scholar who has written on the 
marginalization of women, more specifically, in Blake's texts?

Anyone's help in the above matter would be greatly appreciated.

Chantelle MacPhee

End of blake-d Digest V1995 Issue #5