The Palgrave Handbook of Radical Theology

Reddit icon
e-mail icon
Twitter icon
Facebook icon
Google icon
LinkedIn icon
Christopher D. Rodkey, Jordan Miller
Radical Theologies and Philosophies
  • London, England: 
    Palgrave Macmillan
    , October
     793 pages.
     For other formats: Link to Publisher's Website.


The world of practical theologians and readers of religion are indebted to Christopher Rodkey and J.E. Miller for their careful and diligent encapsulation of the political theology movement known as radical theology in The Palgrave Handbook of Radical Theology. Serving as a pastoral educator, training persons in the public space of health and how it intersects with faith, this reviewer finds the school of radical theology desparately needed. The editors and contributors lay out the argument that the necessity to re-examine the inherent political message of any theology is inherent in our time. As the editors and authors indicate, radical theology is often excluded from theological discourse. This absence makes the obligation to compile a volume of radical theology resources all the more pertinent. In the opening pages, the editors lay out the history, vision, and depth of radical theology. They set out to provide a reference book for radical theology. From this reader’s vantage point—as a scholar of religion and a pastoral theologian—this book accomplishes this aspiration.  In the second chapter, the authors present a historical record and lineage of radical theology through two divergent yet complimentary approaches to radical theology:  the original death of God thought which spurns the movement and the post-structuralist/deconstruction thought which re-ignites the work of radical theology in the following decades.  Both approaches are presented as faithful reflections in the pursuit of clear questions beyond the quagmire of the traditional rhetoric found in the liberal/conservative divide within theology and politics.  As a record of radical theology, this book is also a witness, exhibiting what it claims to be expounding upon, and therefore is an exposition of discourse more concerned with seeking questions than with systems of thought or certainties concerning the divine.  In this way, the book serves as a faithful reference source for those who utter and struggle to articulate Meister Eckhart’s prayer, “I pray God to rid me of God.” The tonal layout of the book is inviting, with an easily accessible divider between the introduction, substantial figures in radical theology, and tangential topics to radical theology. Readers with a beginning interest in radical theology will find this book an invaluable place to begin looking for the primary sources of radical theology. The third chapter is particularly valuable, providing a chronology of radical theology, which is helpful in connecting the people and events on a timeline.

This reviewer particularly enjoyed reading the chapter on theopoetics, which was written as an interview round table discussion.  The chapter was playful, thoughtful, and a demonstration of the creative, intellectual, and sincere desire for transformation to occur within the theological sphere’s entry into the public spaces. The book is interdisciplinary in addressing art, philosophy, literature, music, psychology, politics, and the social sciences in dialogue with theology. The interdisciplinary attention of this work’s contributors demonstrates faith filled glimpses of religion, understood as the sum of all human expressions from Paul Tillich’s work in Theology of Culture (Oxford University Press, 1959).  Martin Heidegger once said that the horizon is the beginning of all that we see. The Palgrave Handbook of Radical Theology, in its emphasis on rhizomatic learning, has given us a reference to the horizon of multiplicities articulated through the rigorous thinking of radical theologians. This book further urges the theologians and readers of religion today within our relations, our world, our sexuality, and our thought to carry the fire onward, speak new radical theological perspectives, and once again, assert to the body politic that theology is, after all, important.

About the Reviewer(s): 

David Carnish is a Certified Educator and Manager of Clinical Pastoral Education at Penn State Hershey Medical Center.

Date of Review: 
June 30, 2019
About the Author(s)/Editor(s)/Translator(s): 

Christopher D. Rodkey is Pastor of St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in Dallastown, Pennsylvania, USA, and teaches at York College of Pennsylvania. His books include The Synaptic Gospel, Too Good to Be True, and The World is Crucifixion.

Jordan E. Miller is a community organizer, interdisciplinary teacher, and scholar who specializes in religion, social movements, and resistance studies. Dr. Miller’s first monograph, Resisting Theology, Furious Hope includes chapters on The AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP), Occupy Wall Street, and #BlackLivesMatter.




Reading Religion welcomes comments from AAR members, and you may leave a comment below by logging in with your AAR Member ID and password. Please read our policy on commenting.