Scottish Journal of Theology (61/3) is out

The latest Scottish Journal of Theology (Volume 61, Issue 03) is out and includes the following articles and reviews:

‘Resurrection as surplus and possibility: Moltmann and Ricoeur’, by Devin Singh.

Though Moltmann and Ricoeur have a history of interaction, little attention has been paid to this relationship and its implications for their respective programmes. These thinkers have much in common, however, and the Ricoeurian categories of surplus and possibility elucidate critical aspects of a theology of hope, serving to strengthen its contemporary implications. Nuance is provided for the resurrection’s role in redemption, and an existential mode of hope is delineated. Focusing on Moltmann’s interactions with Ricoeur concerning the resurrection elevates these latent themes and demonstrates the fruitfulness of a continued conversation between these two thinkers. Furthermore, examining Moltmann’s thought in Ricoeurian perspective opens new directions for conceptualising resurrection hope and praxis in a postmodern context.

‘Maimonides, Aquinas and Ghazali: distinguishing God from world’, by David Burrell

This exploration focuses on Moses ben Maimon’s attempt to give philosophical voice to the revelation of the Torah to offer a window into the comparative (though not actually collaborative) efforts of Jewish, Christian and Muslim medieval thinkers to adapt the metaphysical strategies available to them to the hitherto inconceivable task of articulating a creation utterly free, with nothing presupposed to it. Short of a divine revelation, nothing could have suggested such an affirmation, so crafting the adaptations demanded of familiar philosophical categories would require exploiting the illumination inherent in those distinct revelations. Far from being a merely historical exercise, these efforts are presented as object lessons for philosophical theologians today, as we move to show how Aquinas and Ghazali complement Maimonides’ way of negotiating recondite regions where reason and faith interact. In that sense, this exercise inspired by medieval thinkers may be dubbed , since the deliverances of faith can be seen to be interwoven with rational inquiry and indispensable to its execution. Moreover, their witness can also challenge current who may all too easily presume their categories to be adequate to the task of probing the reaches of religious faith. In this way, the call to transform philosophical strategies in ways not unlike that undertaken by our medieval thinkers can suggest a benign reading of the situation in which we admittedly live.

‘From Hilary of Poitiers to Peter of Blois: a Transfiguration journey of biblical interpretation’, by Kenneth Stevenson

The Transfiguration narratives have received considerable attention from New Testament scholars, but so far very little has been written about them from the point of view of their reception-history. The purpose of this article is to examine the ways in which they have been interpreted in the Latin West from the time of Hilary of Poitiers in the fourth century to Peter of Blois in the early thirteenth. Among these writers, from the big names like Jerome to the lesser known figures like Peter of Celle, a varied tapestry emerges where light allegory plays an important part, whether in the symbolisms given to the choice of the three disciples, Peter, James and John, or to the dazzling clothes of Christ as baptismal glory before cross ), or as a festival in its own right, the Transfiguration emerges as an unusually rich source of biblical interpretation that poses real challenges to the use of the religious imagination today. And it provides a significant contribution to the development of a balanced view of reception-history in our own time.

‘The Barthian heritage of Hans W. Frei’, by John Allan Knight

Hans Frei and the of narrative theology are often understood to be Barthian in orientation, but only rarely have the origins and contours of Frei’s engagement with Barth been treated in the secondary literature. Frei’s dissertation itself remains unpublished, with the exception of an oddly edited abridgement that appeared ten years after Frei’s untimely death. This lacuna is unfortunate, because Frei’s dissertation on Barth, and especially his treatment of Barth’s method, are of signal importance in that they set the agenda and orientation for much, if not all, of Frei’s later work. Consequently, in this article I analyse Frei’s dissertation on Barth, focusing primarily on his treatment of Barth’s protest against . On Frei’s reading, three moves constitute Barth’s break with relationalism: the primacy of ontology over epistemology, the subordination of method to positive affirmations about God, and the conformance of interpretative method both to Barth’s methodological commitments and to his affirmations about God. In his dissertation, Frei argues that Barth believed that, without these moves, theology would be vulnerable to Feuerbach’s critique. Frei’s construal of Barth’s break with relationalism sets the agenda for Frei’s own later work, in which he appropriates these Barthian moves by insisting on the primacy of biblical narratives in theological method. Similar to Barth, Frei takes twentieth-century hermeneutic theology to be vulnerable to deconstructionist critique. His insistence on the primacy of a literal reading of the biblical narratives is his attempt to rectify this vulnerability.

‘The struggle between the “image of God” and Satan in the Greek Life of Adam and Eve’, by Rivka Nir

According to a tradition in the Greek Life of Adam and Eve (GLAE), Seth and his mother Eve were confronted by a wild beast that attacked Seth. This article asserts that Seth’s battle with the beast should be understood as a struggle between the and Satan, and viewed in a Christian context. The claim is based on three aspects of the story: how the beast is described, why it attacked Seth and only he could control it, and why the beast was confined to its dwelling place until the Day of Judgement. The struggle between Seth and the beast/Satan should be seen as a link in the chain of struggle between the image of God and Satan. It begins in Paradise between Adam, the image of God, and Satan, as recounted in the story of Satan’s fall from heaven, continues on earth between Seth, Adam’s descendant, and Satan, and will culminate with the final victory of Jesus, the ultimate image of God, over Satan at the end of times.

‘Torture and the Christian conscience: a response to Jeremy Waldron’, by Jean Porter

In remarks offered in 2006 at a conference at Princeton Theological Seminary, inaugurating a National Religious Campaign against Torture, the legal philosopher Jeremy Waldron observed that Christian leaders have contributed relatively little to the recent debate over the use of torture. This is regrettable, in his view, because secular morality does not have resources sufficient to address the question of torture, and a Christian perspective emphasising the absoluteness and divine character of the relevant moral norms would represent an important contribution to our reflections on this question. This article offers a response to Waldron’s timely and important challenge, setting forth a Christian theological argument that the practice of torture is categorically prohibited. The basis for this prohibition does not rest, however, on the absoluteness of moral norms as such rather, it rests on the distinctive character of torture as an egregious assault on the human person regarded as image of God.

Book Reviews include:

  • ‘Eberhard Busch, Karl Barth and the Pietists: The Young Karl Barth’s Critique of Pietism and Its Response‘, by Cherith Fee Nordling
  • ‘Donald G. Bloesch, The Last Things: Resurrection, Judgment, Glory‘, by Ray S. Anderson
  • D. Stephen Long, John Wesley’s Moral Theology: The Quest for God and Goodness‘, by Todd C. Ream and Kevin K. Wright
  • ‘James Bernauer and Jeremy Carrette, eds, Michel Foucault and Theology: The Politics of Religious Experience‘, by Matthew Halteman
  • ‘I. Howard Marshall, Beyond the Bible: Moving from Scripture to Theology‘, by Steven J. Koskie
  • ‘Jeffrey Stout and Robert MacSwain, eds, Grammar and Grace: Reformulations of Wittgenstein and Aquinas‘, by Harold E. Ernst
  • ‘Stanley E. Porter, ed, Reading the Gospels Today‘, by Edward W. Klink
  • ‘Samuel Wells, Improvisation: The Drama of Christian Ethics‘, by Mark Douglas
  • ‘Bruce D. Chilton and Jacob Neusner, Classical Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism: Comparing Theologies‘, by Brad Embry

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