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This chapter considers the third great turning point in the development of hermeneutics in Western culture. The first hermeneutics was a hermeneutics of consent. This was developed in early Christianity and by Augustine. The second turning point was in the modern Enlightenment with its classic expression by Spinoza. This is the hermeneutics of suspicion. The third turning point was inaugurated by Barth and Heidegger. Gadamer provides its fundamental book, Truth and Method. This hermeneutics may be called integral hermeneutics, which incorporates the first two turning points. This chapter considers the hermeneutics of Heidegger in its relation to Aristotle. This is followed by a consideration of Gadamer’s hermeneutics with a focus on the central role of phronesis, which shows the relevance of Aristotle. Conversation is also central to Gadamer’s hermeneutics. The chapter finally shows the relevance of Gadamer’s hermeneutics to Christian theology.
Part 4 addresses some questions arising. (1) Elsewhere (and, we assume, in the Republic) Plato recognizes a ‘good-making’ good – that without which all other goods lack value – which he identifies with wisdom. How does the ‘good-maker’ relate to the sun-like form? (2) The Republic recognizes a form of the good in which all good things participate. This entity cannot be straightforwardly identical with the sun-like form since the latter is interrogative whereas the former answers to the predicate of a true declarative sentence saying that something is good. How are these ‘two’ entities related? Discussion shows that the sun-like one is metaphysically prior to the participand. (3) What is the purpose of the rulers’ mathematical education? The Republic is explicit that it constitutes their induction into rationality. It neither says nor implies (so the present argument) that their ethical expertise will be couched in mathematical language, or that dialectic is responsible for a programme of grounding mathematics on ultimate metaphysical principles. (4) What is the role of the form of the good in the divine crafting of the cosmos? Does the interrogative interpretation apply here too? And is the sun-like form of the good actually a god itself?
Many commentators on the natural sciences in Islamic history have posited that the doctrine of occasionalism set out by the widespread Ash'ari school of theology was an impediment to an understanding of nature due to its rejection of secondary causality. This excursus reviews the attention paid by Ash'ari thinkers to both God's habitual action in the world and His wisdom in ordering this habitual action to argue that occasionalism can be understood as an equally viable basis for studying natural phenomena.
Language plays a key role in religion, framing how people describe spiritual experience and giving structure to religious beliefs and practices. Bringing together work from a team of world-renowned scholars, this volume introduces contemporary research on religious discourse from a variety of theoretical and methodological perspectives. It introduces methods for analysis of a range of different kinds of text and talk, including institutional discourse within organised religions, discourse around spirituality and spiritual experience within religious communities, media discourse about the role of religion and spirituality in society, translations of sacred texts, political discourse, and ritual language. Engaging and easy-to-read, it is accessible to researchers across linguistics, religious studies, and other related disciplines. A comprehensive introduction to all the major research approaches to religious language, it will become a key resource in the emerging inter-disciplinary field of language and religion.
This contribution examines an important triangulation in the thought of Hugo Grotius, or Hugo de Groot (1583–1645): his biblically based effort to redefine private property; a Remonstrant (or Arminian) theological framework for his definition of the free-willing and rational individual who could choose good or evil, as well as punish evil in others; and his work for the Dutch East India Company (VOC), which in many ways framed all that he wrote. Through these three items, Grotius developed an initial framework for international law, especially the ideology of “freedom of the seas,” or what is now called “freedom of navigation.” The question that arises through this analysis is whether the universal category of “freedom of the seas” as well as his idea of human nature are vitiated by the specific context in which they arose and the interests they served, or whether one can indeed develop universals, recognized by others, from specific contexts.
Despite Pope John Paul II's call for “intense dialogue” between theology and science that excludes “unreasonable interpretations” of Scripture, ecclesial statements on gender and sexuality—including John Paul II's own works—deploy an interpretation of the literal meaning of Genesis to perpetuate a complementarian anthropology that contradicts scientific insights about the human body. After illustrating the implications of this hermeneutical inconsistency, this article presents Jesuit astronomer William Stoeger's theological method and hermeneutics of the full flourishing of life as an alternative approach, which fulfills John Paul II's vision for dialogue and paves a way toward reimagining church teachings on gender and sexuality.
This article examines the Roman tradition that Numa once negotiated with Jupiter about human sacrifice. Complete versions of the myth survive in Ovid, Plutarch and Arnobius (citing Valerius Antias). Previous studies of this tradition have proposed four main interpretations of it, which have done important service in modern reconstructions of the character of Roman religion. These scholarly treatments raise several questions. First, are they actually supported by, or the most convincing way of reading, the surviving ancient sources? If so, have they been correctly attributed? Why might a specific ancient author present the myth of Numa and Jupiter in a manner which suggests one interpretation rather than another? What ideological and theological work does the story do for Ovid, for Plutarch and for Arnobius? Finally, can this myth, in whatever version, support the weight of the implications put on it for the character of Roman religion? This article seeks to enhance our understanding of this myth in its surviving versions, not just by analysing the evidence for each of the modern interpretations, but also by considering why ancient authors tell the myth of Numa and Jupiter the way they do. It is argued that their choices illustrate best not one meaning of the myth nor one Roman way of piety but the richness and diversity of religious reflection in antiquity.
Chapter 5 examines the writings of the highly influential Sunnī scholar Ibn Taymiyya (d. 728/1328), and those of some of his detractors, who accused him of advocating anti-ʿAlid doctrines. Ibn Taymiyya discussed his views of ʿAlī and anti-ʿAlids in his multivolume anti-Shīʿī work Minhāj al-sunna al-nabawiyya. He provides comprehensive arguments and many proofs in favor of anti-ʿAlid doctrines while claiming to be a Muslim who respected ʿAlī. His anti-ʿAlid and anti-Shīʿī claims illuminate the tension that some Sunnīs (and their predecessors such as al-Jāḥiẓ) faced in opposing Shīʿism while simultaneously rejecting anti-ʿAlid sentiments.
Chapter 1 identifies the phenomenon of anti-ʿAlid sentiment in its varied expressions in early Muslim political and intellectual history. The chapter also provides a framework for researchers to locate and contextualize anti-ʿAlid doctrines that appear in later Sunnī and Ibāḍī historiography. It identifies six distinct positions on ʿAlī held by Muslims and arranges these doctrines on a spectrum from the ardently pro-ʿAlid to the radically anti-ʿAlid to enable readers to interpret literary depictions of ʿAlī and situate authors who engaged in theological discussions about ʿAlī across sectarian boundaries and multiple centuries.
This chapter concludes the argument of the book with a final comparison to Alvin Plantinga's Reformed Epistemology; challenges to theologians, philosophers, and biblical scholars; and suggests further avenues for research.
In Biblical Philosophy, Dru Johnson examines how the texts of Christian Scripture argue philosophically with ancient and modern readers alike. He demonstrates how biblical literature bears the distinct markers of a philosophical style in its use of literary and philosophical strategies to reason about the nature of reality and our place within it. Johnson questions traditional definitions of philosophy and compares the Hebraic style of philosophy with the intellectual projects of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Hellenism. Identifying the genetic features of the Hebraic philosophical style, Johnson traces its development from its hybridization in Hellenistic Judaism to its retrieval by the New Testament authors. He also shows how the Gospels and letters of Paul exhibit the same genetic markers, modes of argument, particular argument forms, and philosophical convictions that define the Hebraic style, while they engaged with Hellenistic rhetoric. His volume offers a model for thinking about philosophical styles in comparative philosophical discussions.
The chapter unites anthropological accounts of blood. It introduces refrains that unify themes of the entire book. It argues that blood marks the bounds of religious and social bodies, using Durkheim, Douglas, and Bildhauer; Irenaeus, Maximus, and Aquinas. Iron compounds make blood red, but societies draft its color and stickiness for their own purposes. Inside, blood carries life. Outside, blood marks the body fertile or at risk. But that’s a social fiction. Skin makes a membrane to pass when a body breathes, eats, perspires, eliminates, menstruates, ejaculates, conceives, or bleeds. Only blood evokes so swift and social a response: It brings parent to child, bystander to victim, ambulance to patient, soldier to comrade, midwife to mother, defender to border. The New Testament names the blood of Christ three times as often as his cross – five times as often as his death. The blood of Jesus is the blood of Christ; the wine of communion is the blood of Christ; the means of atonement is the blood of Christ; the kinship of believers is the blood of Christ; the cup of salvation is the blood of Christ; icons ooze with the blood of Christ; and the blood of Christ is the blood of God.
The unsettling language of blood has been invoked throughout the history of Christianity. But until now there has been no truly sustained treatment of how Christians use blood to think with. Eugene F. Rogers Jr. discusses in his much-anticipated new book the sheer, surprising strangeness of Christian blood-talk, exploring the many and varied ways in which it offers a language where Christians cooperate, sacrifice, grow and disagree. He asks too how it is that blood-talk dominates when other explanations would do, and how blood seeps into places where it seems hardly to belong. Reaching beyond academic disputes, to consider how religious debates fuel civil ones, he shows that it is not only theologians or clergy who engage in blood-talk, but also lawmakers, judges, generals, doctors and voters at large. Religious arguments have significant societal consequences, Rogers contends; and for that reason secular citizens must do their best to understand them.
The Introduction lays out the book’s main argument about the uses to which accounts of the Bible’s origins were put in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. It sketches the historical context for this phenomenon, discussing how the period was characterized by heightened attention on the Bible’s ultimate divine origin, transcendent of all historical contexts, and at the same time by a new focus on the human and historical mediations shaping Scripture’s extant forms. The Introduction proceeds to a critical analysis of how modern scholars have understood these modes of biblical reception according to theories of secularization and modernity, with some arguing that the early modern Bible’s transcendence, and some its immanence, played important roles in the development of secularity, disenchantment, and modernity. Through engaging this scholarship, the Introduction develops arguments that challenge contemporary thinking about secularity. Following a discussion of the scholarly field of political theology and the present book’s relationship to it, the Introduction ends with an overview of the book's chapters.
In this book, Travis DeCook explores the theological and political innovations found in early modern accounts of the Bible's origins. In the charged climate produced by the Reformation and humanist historicism, writers grappled with the tension between the Bible's divine and human aspects, and they produced innovative narratives regarding the agencies and processes through which the Bible came into existence and was transmitted. DeCook investigates how these accounts of Scripture's production were taken up beyond the expected boundaries of biblical study, and were redeployed as the theological basis for wide-reaching arguments about the proper ordering of human life. DeCook provides a new, critical perspective on ideas regarding secularity, secularization, and modernity, challenging the dominant narratives regarding the Bible's role in these processes. He shows how these engagements with the Bible's origins prompt a rethinking of formulations of secularity and secularization in our own time.
During the formative period of disputation over the theology of Arius, the emperor Licinius ruled over the eastern Roman provinces. The emperor Constantine was directly involved in the doctrinal controversy only after his victory over Licinius in 324. But Constantine’s engagement in imperial politics had already shaped his thinking about theology. In imperial successions sons were sometimes promoted but also sometimes overlooked. Emperors introduced a new five-year cycle for calculating taxes and often held annual consulships. Emperors identified with deities such as Jupiter and Hercules. At the Council of Nicaea, Constantine was hence ready to debate with bishops over the theology of Father and Son, the annual date of Easter, and the simultaneous divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ. One bishop who attended the council was Eusebius of Caesarea, whose panegyric equated the emperor with the Son of God. Constantine himself strengthened the association by funding churches in honor of Jesus’s nativity and resurrection in the Holy Land and by publicizing a story about his own vision of a cross in the sky. The Council of Nicaea had been a crucible for the formation of both a theology of God and a political philosophy of a Christian emperor.
The third chapter traces how Petrarch imagines the place of the poet in the period between 1341 and 1353. It begins with Petrarch’s coronation oration as poet laureate of Rome, which has long been recognized as representing the poet’s status in an oscillating temporality between past and present. It argues that this tension in Petrarch’s self-representation is related to his ambiguous stance about appertaining to a city or being situated beyond it. In readings of the coronation oration, the letters surrounding the revolution of Cola di Rienzo, and his major texts on poetry, the chapter shows how Petrarch increasingly distances himself from association with urban environments as places of the masses, even as he becomes more directly involved in politics. With an ideal Rome as his city, he can claim a status that is above and beyond the vulgar concerns of the people of the city. Petrarch’s political language of vituperation against the people coincides with the language of his rejection of the vernacular. After a close reading of the poetics of place in Familiares 10.4 and the related Parthenias, the chapter concludes with an analysis of the defense of poetry in the Invective contra medicum.
The second chapter addresses Dante’s representation of himself as a poet in relation to the civic sphere. In a detailed analysis of the Egloghe, four Latin poems that make up Dante’s correspondence from Ravenna with Bolognese professor and poet Giovanni del Virgilio, the chapter shows how Dante measures himself against a humanist paradigm for the role of the poet in the city. In his rejection of this role, he asserts himself as the poet of exile, who stands without a city. Yet, through the pastoral imaginary, he also figures a space for poetry in the historical world, marginal though it may be. The chapter concludes by applying this reading of Dante’s humanism to the Paradiso. First, in a reading of Paradiso 15–17, it establishes that the human community of which Dante is poet is figured as a utopia somewhere between Cacciaguida’s Florence of the past and an imaginary Florence of the future. Then, in a reading of Paradiso 22–27, it shows how Dante asserts himself as a poet-theologian and poet laureate.
The Carolingian period (750–900) was a time of exceptional cultural and intellectual vitality that saw the production of many new works, and included amongst these were many new visions or voyages to the afterlife. Following the earlier example of Wilhelm Levison, scholars like Paul Dutton and Claude Carozzi have hitherto considered these texts mainly in light of their supposed political aims, often to critique the policies and behaviour of prominent political and ecclesiastical figures. While this perspective is not invalid, it tends to obscure other interesting elements found in afterlife accounts from this era. This chapter explores two: first of all, the use of vision texts to stake out positions on important doctrinal questions, particularly arguing for and against the efficacy of intercessory prayer, and even offering collective solutions in the case of the latter; second, Carolingian afterlife visions are innovative for their inclusion of women in prominent roles for the first time. The truth of the Carolingian world – that it was more feminine and more fractious than we might think – was darkly reflected in its otherworld.
The fourth chapter shows how Boccaccio manipulates the Petrarchan model of the poet for different ends. It is prefaced by a reassessment of the relationship between Boccaccio and Petrarch, focusing on the political differences between the two poets. In an analysis of the initial years of their friendship, the chapter shows how Boccaccio moves from seeing Petrarch’s presence in Florence as the condition for the repatriation of Dante’s poem, to trying to separate the two poets from one another in his first redaction of the Vita di Dante. After establishing the fundamental political and cultural differences between the two poets, the chapter moves to an analysis of Boccaccio’s defense of poetry in Book 14 of the Genealogie Deorum Gentilium Libri, which has traditionally been understood as a reiteration of Petrarch’s ideas. It argues that Boccaccio undermines and at times reverses the terms of Petrarch’s notion of the poet’s relationship to the city, which also has implications for the value of vernacular poetry. Throughout, the chapter indicates how Boccaccio’s Decameron and vernacular poetry are often in the background of his defense. It concludes with the suggestion that Boccaccio obliquely claims for himself the role of the poet for the city.