Symbols of transcendence: how religious and fantastic symbols approach the ineffability of God by Joelle David
The transcendence of a God who exceeds human mediums of representation cannot be documented by the propositional statements of scientific abstractions. It must be gestured at by the language of religious and aesthetic symbols. In this article, I examine the symbol of the Eucharist as discussed by sixteenth-century theologian and pioneer of Protestant thought, Martin Luther, alongside the fantasy symbols of the nineteenth century novel Phantastes by George MacDonald. Through this comparison, I hope to explore how the foundational discourse about the religious symbol has far-reaching implications on the broader cultural view of symbols, so much so that its influence continues to be felt in the fantasy symbolism of nineteenth century literature, which bears strikingly similar features to its precursor.