Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rowland, "Things into Which Angels Long to Look"

Christopher Rowland, “Things into Which Angels Long to Look: Approaching Mysticism from the Perspective of the New Testament and the Jewish Apocalypses,” in Christopher Rowland and Christopher R. A. Morray-Jones, The Mystery of God: Early Jewish Mysticism and the New Testament (CRINT, vol. 12; Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2009), pp. 1-216.

In this study Christopher Rowland provides an outstanding survey of apocalypticism in the New Testament (NT). Rowland is to be commended for presenting a thorough argument in favor of the permeation of apocalypticism in New Testament theology. Instead of a limited focus on apocalyptic eschatology, Rowland capitalizes on the theme of the volume by analyzing apocalypticism in its “mystical” aspects. Following Hengel’s definition of apocalypticism as the search for “higher wisdom through revelation,” Rowland is keen to highlight visionary experience(s) and developed angelological and merkavah themes. Thus Rowland seeks to establish the apocalyptic origins of Christianity (á là Schweitzer) by conceptualizing apocalypticism along its (Jewish) mystical axis.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Atheist Delusions

I try to read as much of David Bentley Hart's work as I can. He is about the finest public Christian theologian I have read. Since I have taken back up with historical studies, I have little time for works of theology. But this is one I could not resist. In Atheist Delusions, Hart takes on the so-called New Atheists and their popular proclamations and pontifications.

The book is arranged in four parts. In part one (Faith, Reason, and Freedom: A View from the Present) Hart provides his interpretation of the current cultural situation that underlies the popularity of the "New Atheists." The first chapter outlines what Hart calls the "Gospel of Unbelief," and stages a first assault upon the incredible works of Dawkins, Dennett and Sam Harris in particular. In his initial examination Hart postulates that the problem underlying not only these dilettantes, but other popular authors as well (e.g. Philip Pullman and Dan Brown), is a faulty and simplistic view of history that overemphasizes the virtues of the modern world and the vices of Christianity, and concomitantly underemphasizing the virtues of Christian civilization and the vices of modernity.