by David L. Miller
Among the more puzzling and difficult beliefs in the Christian tradition are the twin notions that Jesus, after his death, made a journey to the interior of the earth to a place called hell, and that the dead have an active life in the form of ghosts. David L. Miller, in a sequel to his earlier books, Christs and Three Faces of God, utilizes insights from theology, mythology, literature, and history to explore the present meaning of the Holy Ghost and the motif "life after death." He shows the importance and enduring power of these Christian ideas and is especially careful to uncover these themes within contemporary secular literature.
"In Hells and Holy Ghosts David L. Miller offers us a learned and yet playful postmodern reappropriation and reanimation of two central Christian themes: Christ's descent into hell and the resurrection of the dead. The move from a theological to a theopoetical perspective reveals the pervasive archetypal anxieties and hopes that underlie the traditional dogmas and enables us to recognize how central these same motifs are in Greek mythology and in some of the most powerful 20th century poetry. We may be amazed to discover how these seemingly obsolete notions, if understood metaphorically rather than literally, can illuminate and deepen our own experiences of despair and of living with "ghosts" from our past that seemingly will not let us go." - Christine Downing, Core Faculty member, Pacifica Graduate Institute, Santa Barbara, CA, author of Women's Mysteries: Toward a Poetics of Gender, The Goddess, Psyche's Sisters, and Gods in Our Midst.
Miller's unique contribution lies in his ability to connect archetypal motifs with familiar Christian themes. He has brought into creative interaction the unexplored multidisciplinary perspective that American Religious Studies offers to Theology. Perhaps no other contemporary writer could speak so rewardingly from such a range of perspectives. One cannot conceive of informed scholarship in the future failing to respond to the many challenging interpretations of Miller's findings. - William G. Doty, Emeritus Professor and Chair Emeritus of Religious Studies, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, AL, author of Mythography: The Study of Myths and Rituals, 2nd ed., 2000 and Myth: A Handbook, Greenwood Folklore Handbooks, 2004.
About the Author: David L. Miller is the Watson-Ledden Professor of Religion, Emeritus, at Syracuse University and is a retired core faculty member at Pacifica Graduate Institute in Santa Barbara. Since 1963, Dr. Miller has worked at the intersections of religions and mythologies, literature and literary theory, and depth psychology.