Notable Books

Notable Publications: Simpson, J. W. Wright, Myers, Collins, Betz

Deleuze and Theology, by Christopher Ben Simpson (T & T Clark, forthcoming September 2012) [Pre-order UK | Pre-order US]

What can a theologian do with Deleuze? While using philosophy as a resource for theology is nothing new, Gilles Deleuze (1925-1995) presents a kind of limit-case for such a theological appropriation of philosophy: a thoroughly “modern” philosophy that would seem to be fundamentally hostile to Christian theology–a philosophy of atheistic immanence with an essentially chaotic vision of the world. Nonetheless, Deleuze’s philosophy can generate many potential intersections with theology opening onto a field of configurations: a fractious middle between radical Deleuzian theologies that would think through theology and reinterpret it from the perspective of some version of Deleuzian philosophy and other theologies that would seek to learn from and respond to Deleuze from the perspective of confessional theology–to take from the encounter with Deleuze an opportunity to clarify and reform an orthodox Christian self-understanding.

Postliberal Theology and the Church Catholic: Conversations with George Lindbeck, David Burrell, and Stanley Hauerwas, edited by John W. Wright (Brazos Press, forthcoming March 2012) [Pre-order UK | Pre-order US]

How does postliberalism relate to Roman Catholic theology? More specifically, how reliant is postliberalism on what happened at Vatican II? This volume centers on conversations with three of the most important North American theologians in the last half of the twentieth century–George Lindbeck, David Burrell, and Stanley Hauerwas–to examine the Roman Catholic roots of postliberal theology. After two opening chapters by John Wright, the book includes three chapters based on interviews with each theologian, followed by a dialogue between them and a conclusion by Wright. This work not only offers insight into the contingent histories of three seminal theologians but also places postliberal theology within the broader stream of the great tradition of the church. It will appeal to theologians, scholars, and graduate students, as well as readers of Lindbeck, Burrell, and Hauerwas.


“A powerful and much-needed defense of Christian ‘postliberalism’ as central to the unity of the church catholic. . . . Wright shows how the words of Lindbeck, Hauerwas, and Burrell serve as best witness for the defense, and his own words brilliantly join theirs to the ressourcement of Congar and de Lubac. . . . Wright’s book marks a new day (and new names) for ‘postliberal’ theology, now Protestant and Catholic, and more urgent than ever. The book is amazing.”–Peter Ochs, Edgar Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies, University of Virginia

Christ the Stranger: The Theology of Rowan Williams, by Benjamin Myers (T & T Clark, January 2012) [Purchase UK | Pre-order US]

Rowan Williams is a complex, creative and versatile thinker. Not only a theologian and church leader, he is also a poet, a translator, a literary critic, a social theorist and historian. His imaginative vision brings together the streams of modern literature, patristic theology, Russian orthodoxy, German philosophy and Welsh piety. In this lucid and elegant guide, Benjamin Myers explores Williams’ thought from the 1960s to the present. He shows that Williams has developed an immensely resourceful – and distinctively Christian – response to some of the major social, moral and intellectual challenges of our time.


‘Myers’ book exhibits many of the traits he describes in the theology of Rowan Williams: an attentiveness and care that makes the familiar strange, a sparse but rich prose that bears re-reading, a seeking always for historical foundations and resources. In fact, this elegant book is a complex intellectual biography that convincingly roots its hero in a series of engagements – the centrality of MacKinnon, Wittgenstein and Hegel in Williams’ thought is revealed – but those engagements are then shown to occur within an on-going practice of and reflection on the life of prayer. Throughout the complex paths of Williams’ theology are introduced with clarity and verve.’ – Lewis O. Ayres, Durham University, UK

‘An accessible, interesting, and persuasive account of this difficult yet important modern theologian.’ – Alister McGrath, King’s College London, UK.

Partaking in Divine Nature: Deification and Communion, by Paul M. Collins (T & T Clark, January 2012) [Purchase UK | Purchase US]

Discussion of theosis is mainly undertaken within Byzantine Orthodoxy and is usually structured around an examination of patristic and medieval sources. This work builds upon such discussions and broadens the basis by including Western sources (Catholic and Protestant) in contemporary debates about salvation. In seeking to explore a relational understanding of salvation, the construal of the doctrine of deification is examined in terms of the divine nature understood as communion. This is related in particular of the theological project of Zizioulas, and other exponents of communion ontology. The book is an investigation of how understandings of theosis in the Christian Tradition have related to understandings of divine nature in terms of koinonia. It further suggests a relational paradigm for conceptualising how theosis may be understood today, drawing out implications for the Christian community and discipleship.


‘In this clearly written and informative book, Paul Collins dispels two myths that surround the notion of deification: that it is the property of Eastern Orthodox Christians and that it is inherently individualistic. Collins demonstrates definitively that the metaphor of deification has structured the Christian imagination of the entire Christian tradition, ‘East’ and ‘West’, and that it is necessarily a communal and relational reality with cultural and political implications. He advances the discussion on deification in a way that will impact how Churches understand and relate to each other and to the world.’ – Aristotle Papanikolaou, Fordham University, New York, NY, USA.

‘Paul Collins does a wonderful job of presenting a florilegia of authors and traditions towards elucidating a modern appropriation of a theology of theosis. He creatively builds upon a complementarity of approaches, of what it means to become holy and transfigured by divine grace, by drawing upon early church traditions, Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Christianity, and their rootedness in the Scriptures, with a view to showing how deification is at once personal, yet ecclesial and cosmic.’ – Jaroslav Z. Skira, Regis College, University of Toronto, ON, Canada

‘Paul Collins, who already in his previous books on Trinitarian theology has made great efforts to bring theological insights from Eastern – Patristic and modern – sources in dialogue with Western theology, is now applying the same method in a new book on the metaphor of deification. Even if during the last decade almost every year a new theological monograph was published with either ‘theosis’, ‘divinization’ or ‘deification’ in the title, Paul Collins’s book contains a good deal of new insights which more than justify its publication. This is true for the helpful account on how ancient philosophy understood concepts like ‘apotheosis’ and ‘theurgy’ or on how crucial passages from the Hebrew Scriptures have been interpreted in the New Testament. As from his analysis of the biblical and the Patristic tradition the author is convinced that deification is not only an individual experience, but that it has a collective aspect as well. This is also reflected in the subtitle of the book: Deification and Communion. Collins is aware that Orthodox Christianity – of which the major authors are introduced with due attention to their biographical context − tends to consider itself as the only legitimate heir of the doctrine of deification. One of the more innovating aspects of this book, however, is the author’s retrieval of (fragments of) a theology of deification in the West in the work of particular scholastic and medieval theologians and of the early modern mystics. As far as the Protestant tradition is concerned, there is more to mention than Harnack’s critique of deification. As important elements in the construal of the architecture of deification in the West, Paul Collins also pays attention to the so-called of Lutheran studies, to theologians such as Ritschl and the Cambridge Platonists, the Wesleys and Pentecostalism. The author believes that it still makes sense to develop a systematic theological treatise of deification – meant to be anything but elitist and to appeal to every believer − even in a detraditionalised Western European context. He does so in the final chapter, ‘Transformation and Community’. Deification first of all makes an appeal to the religious experience of the believing subject who at the same time is to be aware of the limitations of any human knowledge of God. Deification is, furthermore, also partaking in the communion within the Triune God, which requires in turn an ecclesial community in which the believer gains access to even further aspects of the reality of deification: being nourished by the sacraments and becoming a virtuous community. I hope that this book may reach a wide audience, not only of theology students but also of many other readers who want to find inspiration in their quest for a meaningful life.’ – Peter De Mey, Faculty of Theology, K.U. Leuven, Belgium.

‘ … Paul Collins has opened up exciting new directions for us. This is a well-conceived and carefully researched work, which will, in connection with other works on deification, spur further research in this field.’ – Theology Vol 114 No. 4

Lastly, John R. Betz’s After Enlightenment: The Post-Secular Vision of J. G. Hamann is now available in paperback (in the UK, for pre-order in the US). [Purchase UK | Pre-order US]

“Simply put, Betz’s accomplishment is superb. He comprehensively introduces the entire span of Hamann’s work in its theological and philosophical significance … though much remains to be done in thinking with Hamann, Betz’s work is a major accomplishment that deserves wide readership.” —Lutheran Quarterly

“This is an important book for at least two reasons. On the one hand, it is a complete, reliable, and agreeably written introduction to Johann Georg Hamann’s life, work and world. On the other hand, it contributes substantially to the ongoing discussion in contemporary theology and philosophy about the seemingly ineradicable tension between modernity and Christianity.” —Modern Theology

“After Enlightenment has much to offer those who are familiar with Hamann, as well as those who are not. The way Betz handles Hamann’s difficult writings and communicates his thought is a clear and precise manner is praiseworthy … The comprehensiveness of the study is enhanced by the ease of Betz’s prose, offering a tremendous tool for understanding the enigmatic yet fruitful ‘Magus of the North’.” —Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society

“[Betz] has produced the best and fullest survey of the life and writings of Johann Georg Hamann in a generation, helpfully including many passages from Hamann’s letters and publications and commenting intelligently on the style, theology, philosophy, and (to a lesser extent) historical context of Hamann’s notoriously obscure oeuvre; second, he has written an intellectual history covering Hamann’s relation to the major figures of his time as well as his subsequent influence on and reception by philosophers and theologians down to our own day.” —Church History

“John Betz’ book is arguably the single best work on Hamann in the English speaking world and the most informed recent work on Hamann in any language. Hamann is as profound as he is obscure; hence a comprehensive interpretation of Hamann in relationship to the philosophers, theologians, and literati of his own time with an eye constantly upon our own intellectual context, is a rare achievement. I warmly commend After Enlightenment to a wide readership.” —Reinhard Huetter, Duke University



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