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This book is the first major study of providence in the thought of John Chrysostom, a popular preacher in Syrian Antioch and later archbishop of Constantinople (ca. 350 to 407 CE). While Chrysostom is often considered a moralist and exegete, this study explores how his theology of providence profoundly affected his larger ethical and exegetical thought. Robert Edwards argues that Chrysostom considers biblical narratives as vehicles of a doctrine of providence in which God is above all loving towards humankind. Narratives of God's providence thus function as sources of consolation for Chrysostom's suffering audiences, and may even lead them now, amid suffering, to the resurrection life-the life of the angels. In the course of surveying Chrysostom's theology of providence and his use of scriptural narratives for consolation, Edwards also positions Chrysostom's theology and exegesis, which often defy categorization, within the preacher's immediate Antiochene and Nicene contexts.
This chapter argues that there are two basic approaches to natural law, especially but not exclusively in the Jewish tradition. In the first, natural law is essentially concerned with human goods. In the second, natural law is essentially concerned with human rights. The first approach is that of ‘natural theology’. The second approach is what is called here ‘normative theology’. For natural theology, natural law is rooted in a larger, beneficial, teleological Nature, ruled by the Creator-God. For normative theology, the ‘nature’ in natural law is human nature, which is essentially lawful, having been made in God’s image by the lawgiving Creator-God. The chapter analyses and critiques the first approach to natural law, while the second is analysed and its theological and philosophical preferability advocated. From a theological perspective, rights are more closely related to divinely commanded duties (mitsvot) than goods are. From a philosophical perspective, connecting natural law with human rights as divine entitlements avoids the problem of deriving prescriptions from descriptive states of affairs; a problem natural law based on natural theology does not seem able to overcome.
The Catholic Church holds the concept of natural law in reference to a created order. While this concept has been put aside in philosophy and science the Church deems that creation implies an inherent relationship between all its components. The Social doctrine of the Church is built on the concept of natural law accessible to human intelligence. The teaching of Thomas Aquinas drawing from Aristotle remains the main source of Catholic understanding of natural law. Natural law and natural rights are not to be confused. Right refers to a natural order of things, which is the natural law apprehended by reason at a given moment. The source of human rights is entailed in a measure inscribed in the order created by God. So natural rights are determined on the basis of what constitutes a just relationship between persons in accordance with natural law. The attention given today to the ecosystem including the biosphere and human society altogether brings us back to the core of natural law. The ecosystem witnesses to an order which pre-exists to our attempts to use it arbitrarily. ’Integral ecology’ apprehends the human being in its interdependence with the created order of the universe.
Far from being solely an academic enterprise, the practice of theology can pique the interest of anyone who wonders about the meaning of life. This introduction to Christian theology – exploring its basic concepts, confessional content, and history – emphasizes the relevance of the key convictions of Christian faith to the challenges of today's world. Part I introduces the project of Christian theology and sketches the critical context that confronts Christian thought and practice today. Part II offers a survey of the key doctrinal themes of Christian theology, including revelation, the triune God, and the world as creation, identifying their biblical basis and the highlights of their historical development before giving a systematic evaluation of each theme. Part III provides an overview of Christian theology from the early church to the present. Thoroughly revised and updated, the second edition of An Introduction to Christian Theology includes a range of new visual and pedagogical features, including images, diagrams, tables, and more than eighty text boxes, which call attention to special emphases, observations, and applications to help deepen student engagement.
This volume unites established authors and rising young voices in philosophical theology and philosophy of religion to offer the single most wide-ranging examination of theological determinism-in terms of both authors represented and issues investigated-published to date. Fifteen contributors present discussions about theological (or divine) determinism, the view that God determines everything that occurs in the world. Some authors provide arguments in favor of this position, while others provide considerations against it. Many contributors investigate the relationship between theological determinism and other philosophical issues (the principle of sufficient reason; the compatibility of determinism and free will; moral luck), theological doctrines (creation ex nihilo; divine forgiveness; the inevitability of sin; the unity of Christ's will with God's), or moral attitudes and practices (trusting God; resenting the ill-will of others; resisting evil). This book is essential reading for all those interested in the relationship between theological determinism and philosophical thought.
The doctrine of creation ex nihilo gives some reason to support theological determinism. Intuitively, an eternal God who creates the entire history of the universe “at once” will determine every detail of the universe. Likewise, intuitively, a God who creates each time-slice of the universe will determine every detail of the universe. This conclusion cannot be avoided by supposing that creatures help determine the details of the universe, nor can it be avoided by supposing that God has middle knowledge of counterfactuals of freedom. It can be avoided by supposing that God issues non-specific decrees. However, this view yields a deity largely indifferent to the matters of concern to human beings.
Can finite humans grasp universal truth? Is it possible to think beyond the limits of reason? Are we doomed to failure because of our finitude? In this clear and accessible book, Barnabas Aspray presents Ricœur's response to these perennial philosophical questions through an analysis of human finitude at the intersection of philosophy and theology. Using unpublished and previously untranslated archival sources, he shows how Ricœur's groundbreaking concept of symbols leads to a view of creation, not as a theological doctrine, but as a mystery beyond the limits of thought that gives rise to philosophical insight. If finitude is created, then it can be distinguished from both the Creator and evil, leading to a view of human existence that, instead of the 'anguish of no' proclaims the 'joy of yes.'
By distancing creation from nature Christianity rejected freer notions of nature as pagan or pantheist, while imposing a gender hierarchy that rivaled in orthodox fixity creation-from-nothing. Despite the advance of scientific rationalism, Enlightenment culture did not overthrow Christian gender hierarchy. While the ecofeminist movement seized on the liberation of women to bring about ecological change, its agenda stagnated when its activism decreased. Applying a critical-theological reading, this article sees gender hierarchy as subtly read into the Christian exegesis of Genesis rather than flowing from biblical revelation. Acknowledging our current culture as interreligious, it points to two movements forwards, pertaining to gender and creation. First, by locating gender roles in the Trinity, we can loosen the ties with creation and link them to the issue of difference. Second, based on the medieval theological parallelism of nature and scripture one can argue that, in an era where scriptural literacy has lost much of its force, nature can assume a prophetic role. This allows us to reconceive the nature complex insofar as it calls not only for the unity of all creatures as well as of all genders, but ultimately also for the unity of creation with the Creator, what Eriugena called, the unity of all natures.
The primum mobile is the largest body of the universe, giving impetus to the whole complex system of natural causes. Limit of the physical world, it serves as a vantage point on the metaphysical structure that undergirds it. The planets are moved by angels that appear to whirl at different speeds in nine concentric fiery wheels variously distant from the common focus of their orbits. The angels are uninterruptedly intent on what they know and love, to the degree that they know and love it. The opening astronomical simile serves to describe a single moment of perfect balance in an ambiguous twilight before the universe took sides and split into light and dark, good and evil. It is a moment of expectation, in which what comes next depends on whether one settles for what appears in the here and now or believes that it promises something more yet to come.
Chapter 5 inquires with Augustine into the origins and metaphysics of humility and pride, and how we may come to know them. In books XI–XII of The City of God, Augustine explores this theme by reflecting on biblical and Platonic accounts of creation, especially of angels and human beings, and of the birth of Augustine’s famous “two cities” among them.
Seth Bledsoe introduces the 2nd century BCE wisdom book of Ben Sira. While not forming part of the Tanakh or Protestant Old Testament, Ben Sira appears in the LXX and subsequently the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox canons. The book presents itself as the words of a well-educated scribe, and draws on both Jewish and Greek traditions. Central to the book is Wisdom, which is intimately connected to creation, fear of the Lord, Torah, and tradition. It also contains advice on practical matters, such as finance (it both respects wealth and advocates generosity) and relations with women (it is in places decided misogynistic). Although generally optimistic that good deeds will lead to positive consequences, Ben Sira also grapples with the problems of theodicy and death, concluding that righteous persons can live on through the legacy of a good name.
Katharine Dell’s contribution explores the question whether there is a distinctive set of theological ideas for the three key wisdom books – Proverbs, Job and Ecclesiastes. After a brief survey of scholarship on this debate over the last century and a half, key themes that the books have in common are explored, with salient examples – the doctrine of retribution; the fear of the Lord; the figure of Wisdom and the attainment of wisdom; the theme of creation; communication and life and death. Although considerable commonality is found, there is also a discovery of difference and of interlinking with other books in the canon. The themes themselves are not confined to these ‘wisdom’ books, even though they characterize them accompanied by an essential didactic approach.
Zoltan Schwab discusses creation in the Wisdom Literature. He begins with a historical overview, describing how Wisdom Literature’s creation texts became guides for meditation in antiquity, encouragements for science in early modernity, and mirrors for liberal ethics in (post)modernity. Scholars have characterised Wisdom Literature as emphasising ‘creation theology’ and ‘world order’, but Schwab suggests this is misleading. Rather, these texts exhibit ‘creator theology’, concerned with the God behind the world. Their theology holds in tension twin themes of power and beauty. As a case study of this, Schwab turns to Ecclesiastes. Creation is often seen as unimportant in this book, but Schwab argues the opposite. For example, wind (hebel, rûaḥ) infuses the argument throughout. In Ecclesiastes, God creates everything, not just in a single primordial act but in ongoing creative activity; not just in the realm of nature but in the realms of history and culture. Ecclesiastes, then, points us towards the deep things of God’s creation, but it concludes that we cannot ultimately comprehend them.
William P. Brown explores the pedagogy of the wisdom literature. He argues that wisdom is dynamic as it is imparted between individuals, and that it finds its telos in human character development. This dynamic pedagogy is versatile. Sometimes (especially Proverbs 1–9), it manifests itself in rebuke, pronounced hierarchically in the matrix of patriarchal authority. Rebuke, though, can also be dialogic; in Proverbs, the wise also impart it amongst themselves. Both models of rebuke are evident in Job, where Job and his friends reciprocally rebuke each other, and God hierarchically rebukes Job. God’s rebuke, though, is not simply belittling, rather eliciting wonder through the pedagogy of the Master Poet. These texts also teach through testimony – Qohelet invokes his personal observations and investigations, and Wisdom herself testifies to her role in creation (Proverbs 8). Here, Wisdom comes alongside readers as a playing child, and welcomes them as a gracious host. Finally, proverbs have pedagogical power, revelling in comparison, paradox, irony, and metaphor.
This chapter discusses the commitment to biblical authority in American Protestantism, including the ongoing debate over how to read and interpret the Bible; and the doctrines most common to American Protestant churches and denominations, including doctrines about God, creation, human nature and sin, the atoning work of Christ on the cross, the work of the Holy Spirit, salvation, the church and sacraments, and the future of the world. In each case, the Bible is often the source of disagreement and debate.
The Cambridge Companion to Genesis explores the first book of the Bible, the book that serves as the foundation for the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures. Recognizing its unique position in world history, the history of religions, as well as biblical and theological studies, the volume summarizes key developments in Biblical scholarship since the Enlightenment, while offering an overview of the diverse methods and reading strategies that are currently applied to the reading of Genesis. It also explores questions that, in some cases, have been explored for centuries. Written by an international team of scholars whose essays were specially commissioned, the Companion provides a multi-disciplinary update of all relevant issues related to the interpretation of Genesis. Whether the reader is taking the first step on the path or continuing a research journey, this volume will illuminate the role of Genesis in world religions, theology, philosophy, and critical biblical scholarship.
If the Jews were the target of the Nazis’ extermination project, we must ask: Why the Jews? Who are the Jews? What makes them Jews? One premise for this investigation, as already stated, is that Judaism is the key to the connections between antisemitism and the Holocaust that it spawned. Therefore these reflections on the connections among Judaism, antisemitism, and the Holocaust begin with the Judaism that makes Jews Jewish, which is the focus of the first chapter. The key to the matter of who is a Jew is Judaism. Whether a particular Jew is reform, orthodox, or atheist, his or her identity as a Jew ultimately stems from Judaism, from the Covenant of Torah: Without the Torah, there would be no Jews. The Covenant of Torah comes with certain categories of thought, beginning with the categories of creation, revelation, and redemption. It comes with a certain teaching and testimony concerning God, world, and humanity. The Jewish people signify that teaching and testimony by their very presence in the world.
This new chapter considers the achievements of remarkable writer, composer and visionary Hildegard of Bingen. After an outline of her life and her writings, her views on creation, humankind as microcosm, fall and redemption receive particular attention.
Peter Lombard’s The Sentences is a highly influential classic of the 12th century. It became the textbook of scholastic theology throughout the 13th century and beyond. This chapter discusses his views on the Trinity, Creation, Christology, the Incarnation and the virtues, and his sacramentology.
Maimonides opened almost all of his books with the verse “in the name of the Lord, the God of the world” (Gen 21:33). This verse describes the nature of Abraham’s calling, which Maimonides interprets, both in the Mishneh Torah and in the Guide of the Perplexed, as an effort to persuade others to abandon their idolatrous perceptions and affirm the uniqueness of God. There is, however, a difference between the way Maimonides describes Abraham and his calling in the Mishneh Torah and their portrayal in the Guide of the Perplexed. In the former, Abraham is presented as a philosopher; in the latter, as a biblical prophet. In the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides’s description of Abraham revolves around a verse that describes the “God of the world”; in the Guide of the Perplexed, Maimonides adds verses in which Abraham mentions “heaven.” In this article, I shall examine these differences and suggest that they represent developments and shifts in Maimonides’s own philosophical position.