Book Notes: Theological Territories, preface and chapter 1

Theological TerritoriesTheological Territories:
A David Bentley Hart Digest

by David Bentley Hart
Release date 4/15/2020
by University of Notre Dame Press

As a book blogger, I often get review copies through Netgalley or Edelweiss.

For the very first time, I found an Orthodox theology book on Edelweiss! AND by an author I like (for instance The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami?).

So I stopped my reading of the Optina Father series to tackle this one. However, this collection of 26 essays does not read like lectio divina.

As the preface explains, the author “reflects on the state of theology ‘at the border’ of other fields of discourse–metaphysics, philosophy of mind, science, the arts, ethics, and biblical hermeneutics in particular.”
The book “constitutes something of a manifesto regarding the manner in which theology should engage other fields of concern and scholarship.”, or in other words, “the place of theology in the modern world.”

“The essays are divided into five sections on the nature of theology, the relations between theology and science, the connections between gospel and culture, literary representations of and engagements with transcendence, and the New Testament..”

In the introduction, David Bentley Hart explains what he’s doing in each of these essays.

I will then post some of my notes on each essay

1. The Gospel According to Melpomene

This is about classic tragedy, and reflections on Rowan Williams’s The Tragic Imagination. And Hegel.

I have read and studied Antigone, but not Medea, often mentioned.
And I have not read this book by Rowan Williams. DBH criticizes his “pronounced Hegelian sympathies”,  and my studies on Hegel are a few decades old.

DBH also seems to interpret RW’s positions rather simplistically:

“There is a real danger in assuming that one’s moral or metaphysical interpretation of an aesthetic experience is something intrinsic to its object, rather than simply one’s own personal mode of receiving it.”

Wouldn’t RW know that??

And I tend to disagree with some specific points made by DBH, such as

“It is not what tragedy means. Really, as aesthetic experiences go, tragedy is probably among the least intellectual.”

There are then reflections on Tragedy and the Gospel:

“A truly tragic theology would be the story of Golgotha as told by Pilate. And that is the story the world usually tells, and yet it turns out that the story God tells is just the reverse.”



Have you read any book by this author?
Have you ever read the Gospel
as you would read a Greek tragedy?

Book review: Elder Leonid of Optina

Elder Leonid

Elder Leonid of Optina
by Fr. Clement Sederholm
Translated from the Russian
Saint Herman Press
Published in November 1990
272 pages


Somehow, it feels like the Optina Fathers have been with me in the background for a while. I can’t remember how, but I discovered their morning prayer decades ago. Even though I was a Trappistine (Roman Catholic) nun, I had pasted their prayer on the door of my cell, and I would say it each morning when I left my cell for the first time of the day.

Last year, a parishioner lent me volume 6 in the series, about Fr Sebastian,  because it was set in the area where her family had lived.

I really enjoyed it and thought time had come for me to read the whole series. This was confirmed at my visit of the amazing ROCOR monastery in West Virginia, the Hermitage of the Holy Cross, where they have a collection of relics of all the Optina Fathers.

So I just finished reading volume 1, on Elder Leonid.

Click to continue reading

Great Orthodox items and giveaway!

iphone caseSome of you may know that every day, I translate Orthodox articles from French to English for an Orthodox news website:

They have recently added a shop, with gorgeous items. I have personally bought the mug with the Jesus Prayer, it’s very beautiful.

There are mugs, cell phone accessories, bags, T-shirts, and probably more items to come. The items are a bit more pricey than usual, but the designs are absolutely unique, you will not find them anywhere else, and they are really beautiful. Perfect for a gift!

You might want also to subscribe to the website to have access to all the articles. If you are curious about what’s going on in Orthodoxy all over the world, this site is for you!

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