The writing of dialogue has at its heart a conflict. At first glance, writing is what dialogue is not and to see the two come together is to encounter a kind of negation.1 In one direction, the instability of speech seems to become fixed in a text. In another, a text’s stability is rendered contingent, made my own fleeting and improvised expression as it becomes spoken. Located at this conflicted periphery, written dialogue diverges from the conventions of language in important ways.
In this article, I shall focus on one divergence: the departure from the assumptions underlying ‘subject-verb-object’ structure towards a dynamic of reciprocity in which the speaker is both active and passive, both giver and recipient. This concept of reciprocity is generative for our theology in its bringing to bear a love which is at once engaged in all that we do here and now, in our contingent finitude, yet also in its endlessness is attached, necessarily, to infinity. In the Christian tradition, the kind of reciprocity we are presented with in written dialogue recalls the strangeness of Christ’s love, in which those facets of infinitude and finitude are ultimately resolved as one.
Jessica studied Theology at King’s College, Cambridge, before moving to East London to live in a lay community attached to a Church of England parish, and to research theology for the international development agency Christian Aid.