Poetry Being the Body: Theology in Dante

Apr 12, 2024
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Denys TurnerYale University, Emeritus


Open to current graduate students and faculty. Advanced undergraduates and others interested in participating should contact This event is in-person only. All registrants will receive pdfs of the selected readings, which should be read in advance of the class. An optional wine and cheese reception will follow. 

The poet plays a crucial role in the development of a language of the “mystical”  that paradoxically gives voice to the insufficiency of human speech in the face of the reality of the divine. The revelation of this insufficiency speaks effectively to theology’s positive, affirming, role. Poetry is a pre-theological anticipation of theology.

Prof. Turner will build this argument with the three parts of Dante’s Commedia. Alongside this great text, Prof. Turner will reference a chapter from God, Mystery, and Mystification, which sets out formally a theological epistemology to which Dante gives a poetic voice.


Selections will be from Dante’s Commedia and Turner's book, Dante the Theologian.

Both the required and recommended readings will be distributed to participants via Dropbox. If you prefer, you can pick up a printout of the readings at Gavin House (1220 E. 58th Street) Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm once they are ready. Please email David Strobach at to let us know you are coming.


1:30-2:00 | Pre-event coffee and cookies

2:00-3:20 | Session 1

3:20-3:40 | Break

3:40-5:00 | Session 2

5:00-5:30 | Reception

Denys Turner is the Horace Tracy Pitkin Professor of Historical Theology emeritus at Yale University. He is the author of Dante the TheologianMarxism and ChristianityEros and Allegory, and The Darkness of God, as well as many articles and papers on political and social theory in relation to Christian theology, and on medieval thought, especially the traditions of mystical theology.