Monday, 30 January 2006

Who is the greatest living theologian?

I’ve just added a new poll to the sidebar—have your say!

23 Comments:

Chris Tilling said...

Tough one this! Can I choose two?

Fred Sharp said...

Kierkegaard

Apolonio said...

Benedict XVI

Steven Harris said...

That's really tough. Moltmann is my favourite...but is he greater than Küng or Torrance? Hmmm...

steph said...

Shouldn't it be 'who of these do you prefer?' or 'who of these do you think is the "greatest"?'?

Ben Myers said...

Hi Steph. Yes, you're right -- I'm only asking who you think is the greatest. But I thought it sounded more entertaining when it was expressed more starkly: "Who is the world's...."

On the other hand, I wasn't only asking who you prefer -- I myself actually "prefer" Jüngel, but I think Pannenberg is nonetheless a "greater" theologian.

Thanks for these other suggestions too -- I wanted to include Benedict XVI on the list, as well as Rosemary Ruether, Gustavo Gutierrez, Chris Tilling, Robert Jenson, et al. But, annoyingly, this particular poll won't let me choose more than five options!

Random expert world renowned theologian (definetly not a Chris Tilling alias) said...

Well, you really ought to have made room for the Tilling legend, and booted off one of the others.

Jim said...

I'm not so sure there are any "great" ones of the stature of Augustine or Luther or Calvin or Zwingli these days. Is there really an Anselm out there?

Chris Tilling said...

Given that I know I'll never again see my name in the same sentence as such a list of names again,I'll bask in the glory while it lasts ... :-)

(I was once put in the same footnote as none other than Bultmann, you know!)

Chris Tilling said...

P.S., Please don't ask me how the Bultmann association happened, as it wouldn't sound half as impressive if you knew!

kim fabricius said...

I'm going to opt out of this one -on the grounds of what my favourite theologian - Karl Barth - once said about "greatness" being an inapproporiate category for a theologian.

"Let me remind you of the donkey I referred to in connection with my Epistle to the Romans. A real donkey is mentioned in the Bible . . . It was permitted to carry Jesus to Jerusalem. If I have done anything in this life of mine, I have done it as a relative of the donkey that went its way carrying an important burden."

So if you'd rephrase the question as "Who is the world's greatest theological ass . . ."

T.B. Vick said...

I'm surprised you did not include Robert Jenson. . .

However, I tend to agree with Jim there is no one alive today who ranks with Augustine or Aquinas etc. But of the ones you listed I would have to choose Kung or Torrence (you can't go too wrong with a scholar of Barth)

Albeit, I am really enjoying David Yeago's work on Luther, etc.

Jeremiah Kier Cowart said...

Well, by having the requirement of "living" theologians you are able to narrow down the list a good bit (rather than having "contemporary" or some such qualification). And with a poll that only allows for 5 choices, I suppose it's best that way. It does pain me though to not have as options Rahner, Congar, von Balthasar, &c. owing to their somewhat recently being deceased. Maybe if you can find a poll that would allow for 10+ options you could do one on the greatest 'contemporary' or greatest '20th century' theologians. That might be fun.

However, even given all this, as the poll currently stands, I'd have to sidestep those options and go with Avery Dulles, SJ, for numerous reasons, not the least of which include his greatness as a theologian (and not just for Catholics--cf. his Models of the Church, Models of Revelation, History of Apologetics, &c.) and his being alive!

Jim said...

Yes, Dulles! He's brilliant.

Ken said...

Ah... I'll plug away again at one of my personal favourites... he isn't an academic theologian in the sense of a Moltmann or Pannenberg... but I've learned more practical theology from him than I think any scholar/theologian I've ever read: Frederick Buechner. Buechner's fiction and non-fiction is remarkable for its theological insight... where theologians will talk in the often difficult language of philosophical discourse and range in the highly speculative matters of epistemology and higher criticism, Buechner's approaches, such as the Gospel as Comedy, Tragedy, and Fairy Tale, are, imho, equally as profound and more easily applicable to the way I live in the day-to-day.

Stephen (aka Q) said...

I'm not a scholar, but I feel compelled to say that J.D.G. Dunn has had a revolutionary impact on my understanding of the Christian faith. No one else has shaped my thinking the way his many books have.

Ben Myers said...

Well it sounds as though "Random Expert World Renowned Theologian (Definetly Not a Chris Tilling Alias)" would have been voting for Chris Tilling. And this would have given Tilling and Jüngel roughly the same number of votes (you greedy Tübingen theologians, stealing all the glory!).

Anonymous said...

What about some of the younger theologians?
Say Kathryn Tanner or Miroslav Volf?

GoobyNelly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Buck Eschaton said...

I'd choose Rene Girard, but don't know if he would classify himself as a theologian, more of anthropologist/literary critc.

Aaron G said...

Paul Tillich would have been an imporatant addition. Also, Reinhold Neibuhr was a great theologian -- not so much for his academics but for his theological impact upon the non-theological world.

Good poll!

Anonymous said...

NT Wright - Bishop of Durham, UK?

Scholar said...

Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Alan Watts (Behold the Spirit, especially his foreword!)

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