Book Notes: Theological Territories, chapters 2 and 3

Theological TerritoriesTheological Territories:
A David Bentley Hart Digest

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

I’m posting here notes on each the 26 essays comprising this book

1. The Gospel According to Melpomene

2. Remarks made to Jean-Luc Marion regarding Revelation and Givenness

Again, this is rather unknown territory to me. I did read some Jean-Luc Marion, but decades ago as well. As well as Heidegger, often mentioned in this essay. This is a lot about how we understand metaphysics.
DBH tends to express himself with very bold and direct positions. I really disagree with his view of the nature of the gift, and how he applied it to God:

“A gift is a gift when, and only when, it is given with a hope and an expectation of return…
A gift given without a craving for recognition on the giver’s part is little more than violence against the recipient…
To give in this way is the most imperious and patrician of insults….
[it is] contaminated by demonic pride.”

3. What is Postmodern Theology?

This is more familiar territory.

DBH underlines “the things that… the standard ‘postmodern theologies’ of our time get wrong”.

“To [his] mind the entire project of constructing ‘postmetaphysical theology’ is preposterous, rather on the order of producing ‘postatmospheric air’”.

DBH is very engaged in interreligious dialogue. I understand then his boldness in asserting:

“To my mind, what we have come to think of as postmodern theology offers very little in the way of actual understanding across cultures; rather, it offers a way of reducing all cultures to a late modern Western narrative of the immanent rationality that starts from the assertion that there is no transcendent truth. There could scarcely be a greater impediment to intelligent and meaningful dialogue between religions.”


How would you understand postmodern theology?


  1. Given the quotes you offered, my reactions are similar to yours: first, puzzlement and disagreement over the nature of gifts, spiritual or otherwise; and second, accord with him over the damage done by the denial of stable, transcendent truth in metaphysics. The first seems to undercut the selflessness we are called to, in the image of a loving and sacrificial God (Matt 5; Phil 2). The second is more about the way objective truth has been doubted by subjectivism and radical relativism.
    Thanks for your notes! He is certainly a provocative thinker and writer.


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