Open Access

‘From the Footstool to the Throne of God’: Methexis, Metaxu, and Eros in Richard Hooker’s of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity

   | Jun 27, 2014
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Established and Emerging Voices in Richard Hooker Research, Issue Editor: Paul A. Dominiak


Commentators have commonly noted the metaphysical role of participation (methexis) in Richard Hooker’s Of the Lawes of Ecclesiastical Polity: participation both describes how creation is suspended from God and also how believers share in Christ through grace. Yet, the role in Hooker’s thought of the attendant Platonic language of ‘between’ (metaxu) and ‘desire’ (eros) has not received sustained attention. Metaxu describes the ‘in-between’ quality of participation: the participant and the participated remain distinct but are dynamically related as the former originates from and returns to the perfection of the latter. Within this metaxological dynamic, desire (eros) acts as the physical and psychic motor driving the move between potentiality and perfect actuality, that is to say from multiplicity to divine unity: desire aims at goodness and so ultimately tends towards that which is goodness itself, namely God’s nature. For Hooker, desire becomes couched in amorous affectivity and has an erotic register. This essay explores, then, how Hooker appeals to a language of ‘between’ and ‘desire’ within his accounts of participation. First, it examines how human beings exist between the footstool and throne of God in Hooker’s legal ontology. Here, angelic desire acts as a hierarchical pattern of and spur to erotic participation in the divine nature. Second, this essay examines how theurgy transforms desire in Hooker’s account of liturgical participation as a redemptive commerce between heaven and earth. Here, angels still act as invisible, hierarchical intermediaries within earthly worship, but soon give way to immediate grace through participation in Christ within the sacraments.

Publication timeframe:
3 times per year
Journal Subjects:
Theology and Religion, General Topics and Biblical Reception