In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

BOOK REVIEWS Faith and Freedom: An Interfaith Perspective. By DAVID BURRELL. Challenges in Contemporary Theology. Oxford: Blackwell, 2004. Pp. 266. $34.95 (paper). ISBN 1-4051-2171-8. The chapters that comprise this book develop the central themes of Burrell's scholarly career, as philosopher and theologian who deals with Christian, Islamic, and Jewish thought. A collection of previously published articles organized thematically, this is a timely publication, offering an interfaith and intercultural study of creation and freedom. In addition to its systemic and historical value, the work traces the contours for any authentic dialogue among the three Abrahamic religious traditions on the relationship of philosophy and faith. Central to the argument throughout the book is Burrell's insight that ties contemporary views of "libertarian" freedom to the "imperative of modernity": to remove belief in a free Creator from intellectual discourse. He aims to provide "a far more robust account of freedom which, while requiring a heftier metaphysical commitment, remains more phenomenologically accurate than the modernist theory it seeks to supplant" (vii). The project involves the recovery of the classic view of human freedom, a recovery that depends upon the affirmation of creation as a free divine act. Each religious tradition offers a way of understanding this affirmation; together, the three provide strategies for seeing the Creator as distinct, but not separate, from the created order. The traditions stand as "witnesses" to the role of faith as context for philosophical speculation. It is on the basis of what the traditions share (belief in creation as a free act) that interfaith dialogue is possible. Part 1 presents the Creator-creation relationship as central to any philosophical theology. In "Distinguishing God from the World," Burrell highlights divine simplicity and eternity, two key elements in the medieval reflection on language and God. The chapter criticizes current philosophical discourse that treats of divinity independently of a lived faith tradition and looks at attributes independently of divine nature. Overly abstract discourse about the divine fails to take into account living religious traditions and "leaves one wondering if it is discussing divinity at all" (17). "The Unknowability of God in Al-Ghazali" gives a precise example of an Islamic response to the problem of abstract analysis of God. In his critique of Avicenna's logical and emanationist 125 126 BOOK REVIEWS project, Al-Ghazali affirms divine simplicity and, consequently, God's unknowability. The response of the believer can only be that of faith. Chapters 3, 4, and 5 explore the theme of divine knowing, suggesting the more practical model of Artisan. In "Why Not Pursue the Metaphor of Artisan and View God's Knowledge as Practical?", Burrell notes that both Maimonides and Aquinas use the metaphor in speaking of divine knowledge yet neither develops it in depth. In "Maimonides, Aquinas and Gersonides on Providence and Evil (With a Bow to Dorothy Sayers)," the biblical story of Job is the focus for an interfaith reflection on God's knowledge of events and the role of providence. Burrell suggests a creative solution with the help of Dorothy Sayers. An author creates characters having a "life of their own" within the novel; so too divine creative freedom need not be at odds with human free choice. "Aquinas's Debt to Maimonides" completes this reflection, showing how the analogous use of terms can deal with creation, divine practical knowledge, providence, and freedom. Chapters 6, 7, and 8 together consider the dialectic of reason and faith as they relate to creation as a free act. "Creation and Actualism" offers a systematic discussion of the nature of philosophical theology and its need for assessment based upon dialectical criteria. Since faith leads believers to prefer one ontology over another, the criteria must come from both sides. In "Aquinas and S~otus: Contrary Patterns for Philosophical Theology," Burrell pursues this theme ofthe dialectic of philosophical and theological discourse, showing how the two thinkers differ metaphysically and epistemologically. He does not hesitate to place himself on the side of Aquinas in this essay (and others) and shows great knowledge of Thomas's texts, which he regularly uses to support his argument. It is disappointing that the interpretation of Scotus depends largely upon secondary sources, most...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
2473-3725
Print ISSN
0040-6325
Pages
pp. 125-129
Launched on MUSE
2017-04-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.