Notable Books

Recently published: Partakers of the Divine: Contemplation and the Practice of Philosophy

Recently published: Partakers of the Divine: Contemplation and the Practice of Philosophy, by Jacob Holsinger Sherman (Fortress Press, 2014).

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Exploring the meeting of mystical and philosophical theology, Partakers of the Divineshows that Christian philosophical and contemplative practices arose together and that throughout much of Christian history, philosophy, theology, and contemplation remained internal to one another. Through an engagement with contemporary theologians and philosophers of religion, both analytic and continental, and through careful re-readings of historical figures such as Anselm and Nicholas of Cusa, this volume presents a contemporary argument in favor of the antique, participatory tradition of contemplative philosophy.

Partakers demonstrates that retrieving this more venerable vision of the relation of philosophy, theology, and contemplation to one another provides theologians and philosophers of religion today with a way forward beyond many of the stalemates that have beset discussions about faith and reason, the role of religion in contemporary culture, and the challenges of modernity and postmodernity.


“In his impressive first book, Jacob Holsinger Sherman successfully shows that the main lines of Christian spiritual practice are inseparable from ascription to a metaphysics of participation and vice versa. Participation was experienced, while spiritual practice was interpreted as hierarchical ascent through grades of being towards final union with the Triune God.” — John Milbank, University of Nottingham

“In this timely and innovative study, Jacob Holsinger Sherman parses afresh the ancient idea of a philosophy which is also contemplative. Whilst Pierre Hadot recalled late twentieth-century readers to this rich tradition in late antique philosophy, Sherman now gives it fresh contemporary exemplification through incisive re-readings of Anselm and Cusanus and creative links to contemporary philosophy of religion, both continental and analytic. This is an important first book of impressive range and spiritual insight.” — Sarah Coakley, University of Cambridge

“In his well-researched and brilliantly-argued first book, Jacob Holsinger Sherman shows that the metaphysics of participation are inseparable from the practice of contemplation. He shows that this aspect of spiritual engagement has been just as fundamental for philosophy as for theology. The radical implication is that our current divisions between the two disciplines, alongside our over-adulation of cold academic detachment, may both lack historical warrant and be existentially and culturally perilous.” — Catherine Pickstock, University of Cambridge

“Does ‘seeing God’ have philosophical meaning or relevance today? Lucid and learned, Partakers of the Divine presents a frequently misunderstood strand of Christian reflection. In this profound and trenchant work, Jacob Holsinger Sherman offers a penetrating case for the contemporary application of ‘the vision and the faculty Divine.” — Douglas Hedley, University of Cambridge

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