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BOOK REVIEWS 147 (argued in Swinburne"s book on Revelation), the historical evidence for this event need not be strong. The Church's teaching about what the Lord said and did is to be believed as authenticated by God. "Revelation confirms the public evidence that Christ lived the sort of life that God Incarnate would be expected to have set himself to live" (221). Unfortunately, immense scholarly erudition is incompatible neither with intellectual incompetence nor with triviality of mind; obviously it would be invidious to cite examples, but they are legion. This only serves to set in relief Swinburne's combination of philosophical power, detailed knowledge of orthodox Christian doctrine, and just appreciation of its intellectual riches, for it is as admirable as it is rare. University of Calgary Calgary, Alberta HUGO MEYNELL Biblical Faith and Natural Theology: The Gifford lectures for 1991. By JAMES BARR. Oxford: The Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press, 1993. Pp. vii+ 244. $48.00 {cloth); $17.95 (paper). The subject of the Gifford Lectures is "natural theology"; so when a prominent Old Testament scholar is invited to give these lectures, one might reasonably expect him to discuss the degree to which his own research has warranted the designation of the texts he studies as employing "natural theology ." And this is precisely what James Barr did in his 1991 Lectures-in about three of the ten lectures. In others, he ranged widely over almost every other subfield of theological inquiry, including New Testament studies, literature , philosophical and systematic theology, and moral theology. The results, in the published version of these lectures, is a relatively small amount of analysis of the Old Testament and the Jewish tradition, and much speculative assertion about the implications of these claims for other theological disciplines . Such is the province of the Gifford Lecturer; having achieved enough notoriety to be invited to give these prestigious lectures, one can say whatever one wishes. Barr did not waste the opportunity; he used the lectures to attack, with vigor, all opponents of natural theology-especially Karl Barth, but also T. F. Torrance and "Barthians" generally. The result is a very uneven book, providing interesting insights into the Old Testament and its background while making some very dubious claims about the theological endeavor generally , and about certain of its practitioners in particular. The book begins by defining natural theology-a matter that would ordinarily need little comment, except that here Barr lays the groundwork in ways that provide a positive prejudice for the arguments made later in the book. 148 BOOK REVIEWS Natural theology, says Barr, means that '"by nature', that is, just by being human beings, men and women have a certain degree of knowledge of God and awareness of him, or at least a capacity for such an awareness; and this knowledge or awareness exists anterior to the special revelation of God made through Jesus Christ, through the Church, through the Bible" (1). Barr then describes several narrower definitions, but returns to the original (and widest) one, which seems to subsume all the others. Natural theology is thus defined so widely as to include almost every human activity-a tremendous advantage as Barr turns to attack its critics. Barr turns to the dispute between Karl Barth and Emil Brunner over the subject of natural theology, culminating in Barth's angry pamphlet Nein! But despite the sustained attack on Barth, Barr offers little analysis of this allimportant text. Instead, he focuses on Barth's own Gifford Lectures (193738 ), in which (on Barr's tendentious reading) Barth refuses even to admit the existence of natural theology. As is well known, Barth's position was motivated in part by his opposition to the deutsche Christen; in his view, natural theology too easily became a rationalization for human striving. Barr admits this, yet refuses to read Barth as a contextually-motivated theologian (despite a citation of Stephen Webb's fine book on the rhetorical nature of Barth's theology ). Indeed, Barth's later retraction of his early extreme position on natural theology is mentioned only briefly by Barr. By the beginning of chapter two, Barr speaks of "Barth's complete rejection of all natural theology" (21...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 147-151
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
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