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Partakers of the Divine

Contemplation and the Practice of Philosophy

By Jacob Holsinger Sherman

Publication Year: 2014

One of the important ecclesial developments over the last century has been the extraordinary rediscovery, retrieval and reinvigoration of the Christian contemplative tradition, a recovery that has been extraordinarily influential Theologians have begun to explore how aspects of the Christian contemplative tradition challenge certain prevalent views about the nature of God, the world, and persons, but this contemplative renaissance also raises crucial questions about a variety of more philosophical arenas such as how we construe the relationship between faith and reason, religious epistemology, theological metaphysics, philosophical hermeneutics and so forth. How might the theological and ecclesial renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition augment, challenge, and transform the practice not only of theology but also of philosophy itself? This book is an extended essay in ‘contemplative philosophy,’ the meeting of mystical and philosophical theology, of Christian contemplation and the philosophy of religion. It shows that, within the Christian tradition, philosophical and contemplative practices arose together and that throughout much of Christian history philosophy, theology and contemplation remained internal to one another. Contemplation was not something to be studied from the outside but rather transformed philosophical and theological inquiries from the inside. The relation of philosophy, theology, and contemplation to one another is of more than antiquarian interest, for it 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.

Published by: Augsburg Fortress Publishers

Series: Emerging Scholars

Praise, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. vii-viii

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Preface and Acknowledgements

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pp. ix-xii

This book is an extended essay in “contemplative philosophy” within the Christian tradition. Throughout the book, I keep one eye on the present by engaging the controversies and arguments of those contemporary theologians and philosophers of religion who have tried to think philosophically about contemplation and the contemplative tradition, but I keep my other eye trained...

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Introduction: Contemplation and Philosophy

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pp. 1-38

The passage above, from the apocryphal book The Wisdom of Solomon, written in Greek by an Alexandrian Jew sometime in the first century BCE, bears witness to a conversation, even a contest, between philosophy and biblical faith. The text has its own polemics—the author, for example, regularly takes aim especially at the Epicureans for their ungodliness, lawlessness, and...

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1. Between Theory and Theoria

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pp. 39-74

By the middle of the twentieth century, philosophy of religion appeared almost extinct within most philosophy departments—a few dinosaurs notwithstanding—while across the campus one could find philosophical theologians facing similar odds within their own divinity faculties. Philosophical naturalists, on the one hand, and broadly neo-orthodox...

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2. The Adorative Intellect

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pp. 75-130

In chapters 2 and 3 of his Proslogion, Anselm argues that the name of God—that than which nothing greater can be thought, id quo maius cogitari necquit—constrains us to think the necessity of God’s existence. “Surely,” he says, “that-than-which-a-greater-cannot-be-thought cannot exist in the mind alone...

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3. A Stranger Modernity

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pp. 131-162

In the preceding chapter, we saw the way that Anselm integrated inquiry and contemplation, or theory and theoria, through an adorative and self-implicating practice of philosophy and theology. But Anselm’s project was undertaken within a decisively medieval and monastic milieu. Can we still entertain such an approach today? Can philosophers of religion and theologians today pursue...

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4. A Universe of Icons

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pp. 163-204

Some thoughts change us; they are not entertained at a safe distance but confront us, lure us, implicate us. We cannot think them and remain the same, which is also to say that some thoughts only open to us as we risk ourselves in opening to them. In ancient philosophy, one word for such thoughts was...

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5. Contemplative Philosophy of Religion

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pp. 205-254

What are the prospects for contemplative philosophy today? I began this book by noting that in recent decades mystical and contemplative texts assumed a place of surprising philosophical importance for discussions in both the analytic and continental traditions. However, as we saw in chapter 1, most of these studies fail to treat the practices of the contemplative tradition as integrally...


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pp. 255-276


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pp. 277-283

E-ISBN-13: 9781451480252
E-ISBN-10: 1451480253
Print-ISBN-13: 9781451474718
Print-ISBN-10: 1451474717

Page Count: 242
Publication Year: 2014

Series Title: Emerging Scholars