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Document Details :

Title: ‘Alleen nog een God kan ons redden’
Subtitle: De dood en God in teksten van Kopland, Otten en Paulus
Author(s): GOUD, Johan , WEREN, Wim
Journal: Tijdschrift voor Theologie
Volume: 52    Issue: 2   Date: 2012   
Pages: 156-170
DOI: 10.2143/TVT.52.2.3203349

Abstract :
This article starts from the insight that by dying human existence regresses to the status of a thing. People have tried in many ways to overcome this threatening immanence of objectification. This article compares work by the Dutch poet Rutger Kopland and writer Willem Jan Otten with three voices from the Bible. Special attention is given to an analysis of three poems from Kopland’s series ‘Aan het grensland’ [At the Borderline] (2008). It seems these can be read as a cycle. The radical contingency of all things that Kopland reveals in the closing poem contrasts with the desire evoked in the opening poem for what lies ‘beyond the borderline’. Uncovering religious certainties does not exclude returning to a desire to transcend. Rather, this desire is irrepressible and gives Kopland’s poetry a special tautness. But this does not detract from the conviction that ‘the mystery of the world is the visible’ (Oscar Wilde). Otten’s thinking moves in a different direction. The article analyses his Specht en zoon [Specht and Son] (2004). There are many ways to interpret this book. The author uses numerous references to the Bible to depict a close connection between faith, imagination and the ability to call into being. The imagination unique to faith touches the heart of reality and can break death’s hold. According to Czeslaw Milosz, whom Otten cites with approval, God is the source of our imagination. Both views, however diverse they may be, contain echoes of voices from the Bible. For Otten it is the biblical faith in God’s ability to raise the dead. For Kopland, this faith is no more than wishful thinking. Yet even his idea that death is unconquerable finds support in biblical texts. Kopland’s view of life and death is very close to that found in Ecclesiastes (Qoheleth). After an analysis of the different ways in which Kopland and Otten treat 1 Cor 13:12 (‘Now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.’), the last section addresses whether double readings, as in this article, are meaningful.

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