Notable Books

Now available: Merleau-Ponty and Theology, by Christopher Ben Simpson

Now available in Bloomsbury / T & T Clark’s Philosophy and Theology series: Merleau-Ponty and Theology, by Christopher Ben Simpson (January 2014, 272pp).

Publication description:

The philosophical contributions of French phenomenologist, Maurice Merleau-Ponty, carry great untapped potential for theologians thinking through some of the central affirmations of the Christian faith. This exploration is structured against the background of the fundamental interrelation between three “bodies” in Merleau-Ponty’s thought and in Christian theology: the material as such or “nature” (the corporeal), the human body as a living body (the corporal), and the social body (the corporate–including language and tradition). Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy offers a finessed and non-reductionistic understanding of the relations between these orders of bodies. Appropriating Merleau-Ponty’s thought helps one think through Christian doctrines of creation, theological anthropology, Christology, ecclesiology, and eschatology.


‘Merleau-Ponty has been absent from most discussions of the theological turn in phenomenology. Christopher Ben Simpson seeks to change that. Merleau-Ponty and Theology offers a thorough and lucid account of the philosopher’s views, and then seeks to bring him into conversation with Christian theology. Particularly suggestive are the overlaps between Merleau-Ponty and the great Cappadocian theologians.’ — Kevin Hart, The University of Virginia

‘In this compelling and very readable book, the author breaks new ground in highlighting the complexity of Merleau-Ponty’s relationship with religion and speculates on his possible relationship with theology. He first guides us through Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy and through his tortured relationship with religious faith and commitment. Merleau-Ponty was a committed if questioning Marxist and to a lesser extent a questioning if not committed Christian believer… This book sheds new light on Merleau-Ponty’s ambiguous faith and is a must for all those interested in one of the greatest thinkers of the twentieth century.’ — Dermot Moran, University College Dublin

‘This is a study for which there has long been a need. The “theological horizon” of Merleau-Ponty’s work is a topic conspicuously in need of real study, and Simpson brings an acute intelligence to the task. This book truly breaks new ground.’ — David Bentley Hart

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