Theology, Phenomenology and the Retrieval of Experience: A Homage to Peter Kemp

Article by Jayne Svenungsson in Eco-ethica, 9 (2020), 17–34. DOI: 10.5840/ecoethica20213830

This article engages in a re-reading of Peter Kemp’s 1973 dissertation Théorie de l’engagement with a view to exploring its persisting theological value. After briefly revisiting its main argument, I turn in the following section to a discussion of its way of relating phenomenology and theology in terms of short-comings as well as possibilities. In the concluding section, I bring together Kemp and the contemporary phenomenologist and philosopher Dorthe Jørgensen and offer a reflection on what theology could and should be and why I believe that it still has a significant role to play in academia as well as in the wider culture. In particular, I argue that phenomenological theology—with its long tradition of reflecting on mythopoetic language—is particularly well-suited to provide a cultural hermeneutics of relevance not only for practicing religious people but also for a broader audience in a culture that is still to a high degree immersed in biblical imagery.