Monday, December 28, 2009

Holiday readings...

I only brought two books and a few photocopied articles with me for the holidays, having learned by now that the Good Lord never promised to bless parents with free time for reading. I finished the first a day or two ago-- Wilhelm Pauck's wonderful little paired biography, Harnack and Troeltsch: Two Historical Theologians. I've been meaning to get to this for a year or two now, and was glad to have finally sat down to read it. Pauck's biographical acumen and literary style come out here; an essay on each thinker sketches out the contours of their thought, and an appendix is included offering an essay written by Troeltsch about Harnack, and the eulogy given by Harnack at Troeltsch's funeral. You can finish the book in a few hours with a broad sense of the intellectual landscape and without the need of any deep wading into the details that might accompany an authoritative biography.

Pauck doesn't weigh down his account with secondary literature, but one source popped up often enough that I looked it up, and I'll have to pursue it when I return to Wheaton. Pauck seemed to think well of H. Stuart Hughes' Consciousness and Society: The Reorientation of European Social Thought 1890- 1930, published ten years before his biographical lectures came to print in 1968. Hughes (d. 1999) was an historian of European intellectual history especially interested in psychoanalytic thought, and from what I gather Consciousness and Society was the first of a trilogy about 20th century social thought.

I'm now working through R. Michael Allen's The Christ's Faith, a significant new contribution to dogmatic theology considering many christological questions related to the pistis christou debate in New Testament studies. Following that I'll be working with some material in an attempt to wrap up the editing of my paper on Melchizedek in twelfth century political thought, in order to send it in for review in January.

Friday, December 25, 2009

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

Over the past few years during the Christmas season, I have gravitated towards the words of Longfellow's poem Christmas Bells, better known through the carol I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day. The carol takes the poem out of some of its original context in the Civil War and presents it for broader reception. I'd consider it one of the most stirring religious reflections in American literature. It is not my favorite Christmas carol to sing, but it is my favorite one to sit quietly and read, while others are singing around me.

Longfellow's verses grasp the tragedy of the death of loved ones and the the sickening effect of war on one's soul. But then... more loud and deep... the gospel. It rends the heart without either being overly dramatic about one's misery or being overly rosy about one's redemptive hope. Despair is laid bare for us to recognize, and then it is laid to rest.

Merry Christmas, and thanks to those who take the time to read clavi non defixi. I hope that our Lord blesses you as you celebrate the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, come to save us.

I HEARD the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
And wild and sweet
The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along
The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
"There is no peace on earth," I said;
"For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!"

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
"God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
The Wrong shall fail,
The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men."

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
A voice, a chime,
A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Theological Studies for the holidays...

Merry Christmas Eve! We're either sitting in the airport because our flight is delayed for bad weather, or we're up in the air somewhere or other. But this is a scheduled post so it will go up regardless of when or whether we do.

The December 2009 issue of Theological Studies (70.4) is out. The issue's editorial is available in full text, and below is the table of contents. Also note that the Theological Studies website now offers an RSS feed for new material, and is working on adding a custom Google search, "that will allow our visitors to plug in search queries for the Content section of the site, which in turn will yield results for all the PDF files in the Past Content Articles section and, optionally, in the Past Reviews section."

"Forgetting as a Principle of Continuity in Tradition"
Joseph G. Mueller, S.J.

"Gestimmtheit: Attunement as a Description of the Nature-Grace Relationship in Rahner’s Theology"
Boyd Taylor Coolman

"The Freedom of Christ in the Later Lonergan"
Raymond Moloney, S.J.

"Religious Pluralism and the Coincidence of Opposites"
Ilia Delio, O.S.F.

"Divine Wrath and Human Anger: Embarrassment Ancient and New"
Michael C. McCarthy, S.J.

"Proclamation as Dialogue: Transition in the Church-World Relationship"
James Gerard McEvoy

"Mission ad Gentes and the Perils of Racial Privilege"
Paul V. Kollman, C.S.C.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My "Highlights of 2009" List

Many theology blogs are posting lists of "best theology books" for 2009. F&T offers a bunch and promises some future posts about them. Others are listing holiday reading lists. We here at clavi non defixi don't shy away from the antiquarian or other items of limited general interest, so I thought I'd provide my own list... highlights of 2009 for translated and reprinted works. I'll try to focus on work that I haven't already mentioned over the course of the year (for previously mentioned work, see here, here, here, here, here, and here). The reprint list is obviously becoming increasingly confusing as print-on-demand, digitization, and clearing-house outfits with cheaply done reprints grow in popularity. Perhaps this is the last year that such a list could be drawn up in any meaningful way? I've also included some newer printings or editions of books that are worth noting.

  • Abraham Kuyper, Our Worship, trans. Harry Boonstra et al. (Eerdmans)

I'm sure that I'm missing plenty of other good ones from 2009. Feel free to share any more translations, reprints, or other non-new stuff that was new in the past year.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

New and forthcoming from Oxford Early Christian Studies

The latest volume of the Oxford Early Christian Studies series has just been released, continuing the recent and quite promising focus on divine simplicity in theological studies. Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, and the Transformation of Divine Simplicity is the published Emory dissertation of Andrew Radde-Gallwitz, now at Loyola University Chicago. Radde-Gallwitz is also in the midst of translating Basil of Caesarea's Against Eunomius with Mark DelCogliano for CUA's Fathers of the Church series.

The next volume in the series is scheduled to be released in January 2010, and will be a translation of the complete works of Pricillian of Avila (I've recently commented on a study of Priscillian, for those who are interested). The description of the volume, edited by Marco Conti, speaks of "facing page translation", which suggests to me that the Latin text will be included in the volume.

Monday, December 21, 2009

The Anglican Covenant

Last week Canterbury released what is apparently the final version of the Anglican Covenant, which has gone through a number of drafts under a number of names over the course of a number of years. The response to the covenant has not been very pronounced so far, perhaps out of exhaustion at the whole affair. The election of Rev. Glasspool to the episcopate in Los Angeles and the release of Anglicanorum Coetibus by the CDF have received more attention amongst Anglicans, even though neither event is arguably as important as the Covenant is for ecclesiastical affairs.

In the past I have expressed doubts about the covenant process in the Anglican Communion... not because I'm opposed to it or find it a problematic way of ordering churches, but simply because it does not seem to advance the churches beyond their current impasse. If we cannot establish order through communal discernment as it stands and in accordance with already present canons, affirming a new set of standards and ideals does not seem obviously to get us anywhere different than where we currently are. That is, a covenant seems to only be as strong as the covenanting community that enters into it. If parties to a newly stated covenant have already fallen out of covenant relationship with one another, this new affirmation doesn't strike me as offering anything different simply because it is newly affirmed.

That said, I'd like to give the Covenant a fair hearing now that it's out. I've skimmed it, and will surely look into it in some greater depth when I can set aside the time. Rowan Williams apparently envisions the reception process to last until the next ACC meeting, which means we all have plenty of time (as is usual in Anglicanism, for better and worse) to digest this. My initial sense in reading through it was that I've perhaps been shortsighted in thinking about this much-anticipated covenant in terms of the current conflicts of the Anglican Communion. While these conflicts are indeed the reason why the Covenant was written in the first place, the document certainly also suggests some wider ecumenical implications. I wonder whether this contribution will be the most lasting, years after current disputes run their course. That possibility, if nothing else, will probably be my reason for paying some close attention to the Covenant process over the next few years. My prediction, however, is that its impact on the future of the Anglican Communion will not be as pronounced as Canterbury seems to hope.

Below is a short video of Williams introducing the Covenant.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Adam Johnson on Aquinas and Atonement

I was pleased to find an article by Adam Johnson in the International Journal of Systematic Theology, and thoroughly enjoyed a read-through over my morning coffee. Adam is a doctoral student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, and I met him last year when we both took Kevin Hector's course in modern theology (Kant to Barth) at the University of Chicago Divinity School. If I recall correctly, Adam is doing a dissertation on Barth. I appreciated getting to know him, and it's great to read some of his work.

"A Fuller Account: The Role of 'Fittingness' in Thomas Aquinas' Development of the Doctrine of the Atonement" discusses Aquinas' theology of the atonement as laid out in the Summa Theologiae. Johnson argues that an appeal to "fittingness" allows Aquinas to offer a fuller account of the atonement than any single theory might offer. Indeed, Johnson argues against widely held assumptions that Aquinas more or less took over a satisfaction theory by pointing out aspects of ransom and exemplar theories as well. He then moves on to compare Aquinas' use of "fittingness" with Anselm's reliance upon "necessity" (also looking at differences between their uses of decere and convenire). Johnson says of the comparison (on p.5 of the article- I don't know where it will be in the ISJT issue):
Whereas Anselm uses fittingness to narrow down or eliminate possibilities as he explores the necessity of the incarnation, Thomas uses it to give increased breadth to the scope of his account of the effects flowing from Christ’s passion.
Johnson goes on to look at Aquinas' appropriation of each of the three traditional theories laid out by Aulén, and then looks in particular at his use of satisfaction. Here he brings out his more controversial thesis, arguing (primarily in conversation with Cessario and Bauerschmidt) that Aquinas,
joins together satisfaction and punishment, whereas Anselm separated them as mutually exclusive alternatives. In doing so, Thomas assimilates the strengths of Anselm’s argument – with its focus upon the honor and justice of God – while doing greater justice to humanity’s debt of punishment. (p. 14 of the article)
Next, he argues (primarily in conversation with Stump) that Aquinas does offer an account of the manner of Christ's assumption of our sins, and does so through the language of the Psalms and the prophet Isaiah.

In closing, Johnson returns to some broader reflections on Aquinas' appeal to fittingness and its usefulness for incorporating multiple atonement theories into a coherent account of our reconciliation in Christ. While he cautions that Aquinas doesn't offer the tools for an actual reconciliation of various theories, the breadth of his focus on fittingness is usefully employed in current constructive work.

This article is posted early at IJST, and while contributions sometimes sit in Early View for a little bit, I imagine the article will be out in the January 2010 issue. Adam has also recently written some book reviews for Themelios, of Jenson's The Gravity of Sin and Weinandy's Athanasius.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Brandom at Colloque Wilfrid Sellars

Perverse Egalitarianism notes that Brandom's lecture on "Pragmatism, Inferentialism, and Modality in Sellars’s Arguments against Empiricism" this past May at College de France is available for listening (along with some others).

Brandom contributed a commentary to Harvard UP's reprinting of Sellars' Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind. I have also previously noted another edition of Sellars' EPM that is worth reading.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Jean-Pierre Batut on God the Father as Pantocrator

Jean-Pierre Batut, who was consecrated earlier this year as auxiliary bishop of Lyon, has a new study out with Brepols on God the Father in pre-nicene theology. While Pantocrator is typically known as a christological title and usually recognized from its application to iconography, Batut examines the early Christian use of pantocrator/omnipotens in theological considerations of God the Father. Apparently this usage enjoyed a rather brief time of development before being overshadowed by its appropriation for christology.

This is a welcome study in an area where the literature strikes me as somewhat sparse. Despite widespread cries of late that theologians are ignoring pneumatology, I think that the most neglected aspect of trinitarian doctrine today is probably consideration of God the Father. We don't even have a category name for such studies comparable to "pneumatology" or "christology"-- and unfortunately "patrology" has already been taken by Quasten.

I'm not familiar with Batut's work, but you can find an English translation of his "Does the Father Suffer?" in a recent Communio issue devoted to the theme.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A few items...

  • R&R offers some perceptive thoughts on Milbank & Rome as told by the anniversary issue of Modern Theology.
  • There really isn't much to be found in the way of a canon law blogosphere, but Ed Peters is always a must-read in this area. He has some comments up on recent changes to the 1983 CIC that will be worth reading.
  • Vivarium is an important journal for medieval intellectual history that explicitly states its primary interest as "the profane side of philosophy." The current issue, however, offers more for the theologian than is usually the case. William Courtenay has an article on Parisian theology, and there are also articles covering Nicholas of Autrecourt on certitude, views on the soul from the via moderna tradition of Erfurt, and Ficino's use of Aquinas as a basis for his polemical interaction with Averroism in his Platonic Theology.
  • Ben points out a helpful reference work- two volumes of abstracts for Karl Rahner's essays, one on his Theological Investigations, and another on his unserialized essays.
  • A conference at Oxford on Jacob Boehme and "Teutonic Philosophy"-- proposals for papers are due 15 January 2010.
  • Leiter notes that the first 14 volumes of the Minnesota Studies in Philosophy of Science series is now digitized and freely available. I was not familiar with this series until the pragmatism seminar this past semester, but since October I've used it a fair amount. I'd still keep an eye out for the nice hardback volumes when you're out at used bookstores, but it's good to know that this important series is becoming readily accessible.
  • David Congdon has a new article out- "Jesus and Faith: The Doctrine of Faith in Scripture and the Reformed Confessions" Journal of Reformed Theology 3.3 (2009) pp. 321-344.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Personal subscriptions to academic journals?

In a conversation on the 25th anniversary issue of Modern Theology, the logistical problem of access and high prices for journals came up in the comment section, meandering from Hauerwas's concern for the audience of the journal to the mundane fact that many readers of the blog simply can't read Hauerwas's (or anyone else's) article because they're not tied to any institutional subscription.

I've posted on the high prices of journals before and I mentioned this in the comment section, but my discussions in the past have been from the perspective of the academic library and institutional concerns for theological resources. Commenters on the Modern Theology issue brought up the question of individual subscriptions, however.

This had me wondering-- what do your personal subscriptions look like? I don't subscribe to any journals, and only receive those that come complimentary with academic society memberships. Working full-time at one academic library and having student access to another doesn't really make subscriptions a necessity for me, but there will surely be some point where I'm less in the loop than I am now. Are any readers in a position where individual subscriptions are important for their work? What sorts of journals are a priority for you-- field-wide periodicals? Subfield ones?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

For the Early Modern Scholastic on your Christmas gift list... know how every family has one of them.

From Leuven University Press (distributed by Cornell here in the U.S.) is Collected Studies on Francsico Suarez. The collection is edited by Martin Stone of K.U. Leuven and John Doyle, emeritus of St. Louis-- a superb team for what promises to be an important collection.

From Notre Dame Press, The Semantics of Analogy: Rereading Cajetan’s De Nominum Analogia, by Joshua Hochschild. Hochschild was a professor at Wheaton until he became Roman Catholic and was unfortunately forced by the administration to leave. The loss to Wheaton was known then by many of us, is on display now in what looks to be a welcome and timely study, and will surely continue to play out as Hochschild continues to move on in his career. He is now at Mount St. Mary's University. The book comes out in April but is available now for pre-order.

Just released a few days ago from Concordia Publishing is the latest translated volume of Johann Gerhard's Loci Theologici. The current volume On Christ is the third in a 17-volume series.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

In Memoriam: Stephen Toulmin

Brian Leiter points out the passing of Stephen Toulmin this past Friday. We read a selection from his Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity in a course on modern theology at Wheaton, and I have since kept in the back of my mind that I need to revisit his work.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Recherches de Science Religieuse on Meier and Bouillard

The latest issues of Recherches de Science Religieuse are dedicated to the work of two significant scholars in biblical studies and theology.

97/3 discusses the work of James P. Meier in Christology, while 97/2 discusses the work of the late Henri Bouillard, a 20th century Catholic theologian who may be better known in Protestant circles for his three volume study of Karl Barth, published in the same year as Hans Küng's famous dissertation (though the two were not at all on good terms).

Monday, December 7, 2009

Quine on the Library of Babel

Posting is slow because I'm working on papers. A digression from my paper on Quine, however, brought me to his thoughts on the mythical universal library or La biblioteca de Babel. A library that is "strictly complete", of all conceivable book-length volumes of any conceivable combination of alphabetic characters. Such a library would house all knowledge possibly expressible in words, but would be meaningless amidst the extended sea of volumes filled with garbled nonsense (or sensible though false statements, or plausible though untrue disproofs of the true volumes, or implausible though true disproofs of the false volumes, or fiction, etc.).

Quine doesn't dwell upon the expanse of this library, but rather upon the fact that "the collection is finite." And in the end, it can be reduced to "two volumes, one containing a single dot and the other a dash." The simplicity of the binary is something that my father would appreciate more than I do: it is the dizzying consideration of the expanse that I find interesting.


Saturday, December 5, 2009

New books from Beiser and Dole

Two books out from Oxford UP in time for the holidays and worth noting. They are also hardback yet under $100, which is a feat for these folks.

In Schleiermacher on Religion and the Natural Order , Andrew Dole presents a new account of Schleiermacher's theory of religion. His purpose is to challenge a deeply entrenched tradition that characterizes Schleiermacher's account of religion as ''subjective'' or ''individualistic.'' While many scholars view Schleiermacher primarily as a theorist of "religious experience," Dole argues that Schleiermacher integrates the individualistic side of religion with a set of claims about its social dynamics, and that this takes place within a broader understanding of all events in the world as the product of a universal, law-governed ''causal nexus.'' Schleiermacher argued that religion emerges out of the interactions of cause and effect that constitute the 'natural order'-or Naturzusammenhang -and is thus to be understood as naturally caused.
Note that Dole also has a chapter in the new Analytic Theology.

Diotima's Children is a re-examination of the rationalist tradition of aesthetics which prevailed in Germany in the late seventeenth and eighteenth century. It is partly an historical survey of the central figures and themes of this tradition But it is also a philosophical defense of some of its leading ideas, viz., that beauty plays an integral role in life, that aesthetic pleasure is the perception of perfection, that aesthetic rules are inevitable and valuable. It shows that the criticisms of Kant and Nietzsche of this tradition are largely unfounded. The rationalist tradition deserves re-examination because it is of great historical significance, marking the beginning of modern aesthetics, art criticism, and art history.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

In Memoriam: Hudson T. Armerding

I received the following message today, as did the rest of the Wheaton campus community. Since I don't know very much about President Armerding, I'll simply re-post the announcement in full:

Wheaton's fifth president, Dr. Hudson T. Armerding, entered the presence of the Lord he served so faithfully and for so long, early yesterday evening, December 1st. He died of natural causes at Windsor Park Manor in Carol Stream, Illinois at 91 years of age.

Several years ago in Wheaton's Chapel, Hudson shared the story of a conversation with an aging friend from Quarryville Presbyterian Home, who rather than seeing the season of aging and dying as "walking into the sunset," believed God's Word in Proverbs 4:11, "The path of the righteous is like the first gleam of dawn, shining ever brighter till the full light of day." In that Chapel service Hudson challenged Wheaton students to understand a Christian's death is walking into the sunrise.

Hudson's life and work among us for nearly 50 years, and his testimony of God's faithfulness to him and to his family, have helped shape today's Wheaton College community. A 1941 Wheaton graduate, Hudson served as a Navy Commander in the South Pacific in WWII. He married Wheaton alumna Miriam Bailey in 1944, and in 1949 both Armerdings joined the faculty of Gordon College. It was while Hudson was serving as acting president at Gordon that he received an invitation from President V. Raymond Edman to join Wheaton's history faculty. About a year later, Dr. Edman appointed Hudson as Wheaton's first provost. And in several more years Hudson was installed as Wheaton's fifth president, serving from 1965 to 1982.

During his presidency Hudson oversaw construction of a new library (Buswell), science building (which was named in his honor ten years after it was built), and the Billy Graham Center. During his administration Wheaton's faculty focused with renewed energy on the integration of faith and learning. He wrestled with challenges of leading a college community during the difficult years of the Vietnam War.

Hudson was not only a scholar, teacher, and college president; he was also a pastor who shared biblical truths from his heart. He wrote countless sermons, addresses and articles during the course of his life. He authored several books relevant to Wheaton including, A Word to the Wise (Tyndale House, 1980), The Heart of Godly Leadership (Crossway, 1992), and The Hand of God (Wheaton College, 2004). He also served on many boards throughout his active years, strengthening the mission of Christ-centered higher education.

After retiring from Wheaton's presidency in 1982, Hudson served as Vice President of the Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community in Pennsylvania until 1999. He remained as counselor-in-residence there until the death of his beloved wife, after which he moved to the Windsor Park Manor retirement community in Carol Stream, Illinois.

Hudson's family is planning a Memorial Service in Wheaton which will be open to all. As we gain more information about that occasion, we will share it with you on the College website In the meantime, we wanted you to have this word. The Armerding family has suggested that if friends wish to honor Hudson's life with a gift, it can be can be designated to Wheaton College, Officers' Christian Fellowship, Overseas Missionary Fellowship, Columbia International University, or the Quarryville Presbyterian Retirement Community.


Duane Liftin

A few items...

  • An interesting post about the rise in self-publication and the credentialing difficulties that this creates. I think the points that this problem is amplified in scholarly publishing and that it is a concern for naive authors are worth noting.
  • A new book from UNC Press caught my eye a few weeks ago. In Original Sin and Everyday Protestants, Andrew Finstuen considers Reinhold Niebuhr, Billy Graham, and Paul Tillich-- not the trio that you would expect to see on a book cover together. Note, also, that UNC Press can be added to the list of publishers with holiday sales.
  • Last week I discussed pragmatism as a conversation partner for conceptual history, and mentioned Davidson in particular. Yesterday I ran across this article in The European Journal of Philosophy (Serge Grigoriev, "Beyond Radical Interpretation", 17.4 (2009) pp.489-503) and it may be worth reading for those who are interested. The discussion concerns historical understanding more generally and not concept history in particular, but it addresses a few of the same concerns through Davidson's "radical interpretation".

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ellul, Wyclif, and Zinzendorf at Wheaton

Some comments on existing holdings and new acquisitions here at Wheaton College...

I just found out today that a course on Jacques Ellul has been going on here at Wheaton this past semester, taught by Jeffrey Greenman of Biblical & Theological Studies and Noah Toly of Urban Studies. At the University of Chicago, Susan Schreiner is also in the midst of an Ellul seminar. For those who are interested, Wheaton holds the Jacques Ellul Papers in our special collections, which spans about 12 feet in the archives.

Also in our libraries, archives, and special collections is a large amount of backlog that we are working on whittling down... anyone with library experience is likely familiar with the adventure. Luckily my duties avoid wading through all of this, but the fruits of it do often come by my desk. Two multi-volume sets were recently pulled for cataloging, and those in the Wheaton community might want to take note.

The first is the 1966 Johnson reprint of the Wyclif Society's edition of Wyclif's Latin works (originally published 1883-1922). The set is in quite good shape. For those who are not in the area or at another institution with the holding, Wyclif's Latin works are gradually being digitized and transcribed elsewhere, and a number of pdfs are available through the Lollard Society (towards the bottom of the page).

Also found in the backlog is the Georg Olms 14 volume edition of Nicholas Ludwig von Zinzendorf's works. This set is an important acquisition, but a bit uneven; many of the volumes are facsimiles of older Gothic editions, while some have more recent typeset.