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Circling the ElephantA Comparative Theology of Religious Diversity$
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John J. Thatamanil

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780823288526

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823288526.001.0001

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Introduction: Revisiting an Old Tale

Introduction: Revisiting an Old Tale

(p.1) Introduction: Revisiting an Old Tale
Circling the Elephant

John J. Thatamanil

Fordham University Press

This chapter introduces, reformulates, and defends the old Indian allegory of the blind men and the elephant to argue that, despite critiques, it remains a valuable tool for thinking about religious diversity. Appealing to John Hull, theologian of blindness, the book reformulates the ancient tale as one about blindfolded men and the elephant. After reformulating the tale, the author puts it to new uses. He argues that theology of religious diversity is the work of accounting for why there are so many different accounts of the elephant, comparative theology is the work of actually walking over to another side of the elephant, and constructive theology is the venture of actually redescribing the elephant in light of the other two tasks. This chapter argues that all three tasks must be done together.

Keywords:   blind men and the elephant, comparative theology, constructive theology, Abraham Joshua Heschel, John Hick, John Hull, Lesslie Newbigin, theology of religious diversity

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