Religions (Jan 2023)

The Phenomenology of Prayer and the Relationship between Phenomenology and Theology

  • Nicolae Turcan

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 14, no. 1
p. 104


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The present article analyzes the relationship between phenomenology and theology, starting from some examples of the phenomenology of prayer. First, the article presents the phenomenology of prayer in the writings of phenomenologists such as Jean-Luc Marion, Jean-Yves Lacoste, Christina Gschwandtner and Natalie Depraz, indicating that the type of phenomenology and its relationship with theology influence the way in which they approach the theme of prayer. Second, the paper proposes a systematization of prayer, starting from the personal pronouns uttered when praying: I, you (thou) and he. “I” sees oneself as being called by God to a transfiguration which is impossible through one’s own powers and visible in the experience of the plenitude and joy of prayer; “You” provides the predicative dimension of the discourse and reveals communion either with God or, in the case of liturgy, with others; “He”, used less frequently in prayer, can constitute a source for a later theoretical discourse, being recognized as a “mysterious presence”. Following these analyses, the article concludes that there are two major relationships between phenomenology and theology: that of partial overlap, called theo-phenomenology, and that of rigorous delimitation. Regardless of the preferred model, the use of phenomenology for theology proves to be fruitful.