Saturday, January 13, 2007

Best Contemporary Theology Meme (In which I demonstrate that I don't 'get' threes)

Well, as Patrik (who started this all) insists, it's more than a meme. (Information also available at Theology Blogs.)

He has challenged people to name the three best theology books they've read that have been published over the last twenty five years. Since I am stubborn and find it difficult to follow directions, I am instead providing three lists of five each:

First, my list of five superlative works of theology which I suspect may not make it onto other people's lists, in no particular order:

* William Cavanaugh, Torture and Eucharist: Theology, Politics, and the Body of Christ.
David F. Ford, Self and Salvation. (And, in May, Christian Wisdom: Desiring God and Learning in Love.)**
* R.W.L. Moberly, Prophecy and Discernment.
Eugene Rogers, Jr., After the Spirit: A Constructive Pneumatology from Sources Outside the Modern West.
Rowan Williams, Resurrection: Interpreting the Easter Gospel. (A deceptively slender volume. I read it years ago and it still has an impact on my thinking and preaching on the resurrection.)

And, secondly, five books which are superlative works of theology which I am pretty sure will be found on other lists:

*Hans Urs von Balthasar The Glory of the Lord
Colin Gunton, The Promise of Trinitarian Theology.***
David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite.
John Milbank, Theology and Social Theory.
John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (2d ed.) (The first edition is 1972, but the second is 1994.)
George Lindbeck's The Nature of Doctrine is in, if Yoder is disallowed.

And lastly, because I just can't stop: five works of theology from the last twenty five years that, when I get a chance to take them off of my shelf and read them, will very likely find their way onto one of the above two lists:

David Brown, God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience.
Timothy Gorringe, A Theology of the Built Environment: Justice, Empowerment, Redemption.
Stanley Hauerwas, Matthew (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible)
Nicholas Lash, The Beginning and the End of 'Religion'.
Rowan Williams, On Christian Theology.

But, because I know that Patrik is planning on doing more with these nominations, I know that I should really just pick three so that my entry isn't invalidated: so I choose the three above that I have placed asterisks to the left of (i.e. von Balthsar, Cavanaugh and Moberly).

And now, to tag three other people to participate in this madness: Gaunilo (I doubt it), Maggi, Thunder, Marshall, and Emily. See? You ask for three and you get five.

And, since Gaunilo is no doubt more profitably employed, why don't we ask Clifton to weigh in, instead?

** I'm not just blowing smoke; I've had the pleasure of reading it in manuscript, and let me be the first to tell you: it's good. It's funny about Professor Ford -- he's deeply influential in English language theology in many ways, but he does not make a 'splash' in publishing in the same way that others have. He's publishing, of course -- extensively -- but his work is not as easy to categorise as, say, John Webster or Robert Jenson. He works at seams and interfaces of theology with other things, more than at Christian dogmatics per se. I suspect that that actually makes his work more influential over the long term (not to disparage or disrepect the work of others, of course). I certainly find it deeper, more creative, and more closely tied to lived life than most.

*** I have a funny relationship with Gunton. When I first encountered him this last autumn, I remember thinking, repeatedly, 'why didn't anyone tell me about this guy?!?' And then I got to one point in the book where the whole thing just goes pear-shaped and he's just grunting out the Reformed party line, after doing some amazingly creative (and faithful) re-thinking of Creation. (It was his Didsbury lectures.) And last month I read his book Act & Being which was by turns brilliant and awful. But he is one of the major figures in the last 25 years to put the Trinity back on the table as central to theologising, which makes a massive contribution to the current state of theology. (Of course, Barth started that some fifty years ago, for those with ears to hear...)

God in a Shrinking Universe: Best Contemporary Theology Meme

Check out how the meme is doing here.

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Blogger Marshall said...

Wow! This is the first meme I've ever actually been tagged on. So, let's see.....

Sunday, January 14, 2007 4:04:00 AM  
Blogger maggi said...

hi jason, and thanks again for reading my latest MS for me! I think the fact that you have three fives gives it a certain "three-ness" will endeavour to dream up my three best as soon as I've put this MS to bed.

Sunday, January 14, 2007 11:08:00 AM  
Blogger andygoodliff said...

Jason, I'm interested to hear you write more on gunton. why was act and being both brilliant and awful? i'm really looking forward to the new forward, after enjoying self and salvation

Sunday, January 14, 2007 1:05:00 PM  
Blogger Dan Morehead said...

Thunder tagged me, so I'm blaming you. :) Sounds like you're reading some interesting stuff. Currently, I'm up in Aberdeen researching under Webster.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 10:54:00 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I'll gladly accept the blame for that -- everything elsethat Thunder does, though is strictly his responsibility! ;-)

How do you like Aberdeen? What are you writing on? (I share an office here with someone who got his PhD at Aberdeen, under I Howard Marshall.) And how are you finding working with Webster? I've got his book on Scripture on my desk but I'm not sure when I'll have time...

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 9:22:00 PM  
Blogger Rev Sam said...

You'll enjoy the Lash 'Beginning and End...' - and if you do (and haven't read it already) check out his 'Easter in Ordinary'. It's a work that doesn't seem to have been taken up in wider theological circles, but the cultural critique embedded in it is - IMHO - extremely far-reaching.

Thursday, January 25, 2007 1:14:00 PM  

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