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Monday, 22 February 2010

This week with Rowan Williams

Lots of good stuff from Rowan Williams over the past week or two. He gave a very fine public lecture on the Philokalia at St Vladimir's Seminary (well worth listening to the whole thing). He has a video message to mark the beginning of Lent. He writes in The Guardian about the abyss of individualism. And in the new issue of Reviews in Religion and Theology 17:2 (2010), he has a rip-roaring good review of Luigi Gioia's important new book, The Theological Epistemology of Augustine's De Trinitate (Oxford UP 2009). The review begins:

"Too many theologians writing about Augustine in recent decades have fallen under the malign spell of Olivier Du Roy's substantial monograph of 1966 on faith and intelligence in Augustine's Trinitarian thought – an essay which argued in detail for an almost unqualified Platonism and individualism in Augustine generally, and an isolation of his Trinitarian theology from the economy of salvation. Du Roy's book, along with a somewhat misread passage in de Régnon's studies in the history of Trinitarian theology, produced a curious 'received wisdom' about Augustine as the source of all the theological ills of Western Christendom or even Western society; he appears to have been responsible for everything but the common cold."
Incidentally, the same issue of RRT includes Thomas Cattoi's incisive review of Giorgio Agamben's latest, Il Regno e la Gloria:
"Yet, it is true that, in this volume at least, Agamben offers few, if any, suggestions as to how the subject could break out of the spell of glory. Angels and bureaucrats conspire to make oppression ordinary, and even aesthetically pleasing; any capacity of resistance to the kingdom is shattered, as glory reasserts its transcendent and immutable character. Those readers who persevere to the end of the volume must wait for the next installment to receive their reward."
For more on Agamben's book, you can't go past Adam's invaluable synopses.


adhunt said...

The Archbishop also did something even cooler than all these venerable things this week; he dedicated and laid the foundation stone for a new church in what will hopefully become a world pilgrimage site to honor St. John the Baptist - http://tinyurl.com/yzcrot6

Evan said...

Thanks for pointing out the Williams review... Gioia's book is on my to-read list (though it will unfortunately probably remain to-be-read for a little while). I do wonder, though, how long Du Roy will remain the guy that we all have to cite in token opposition. Surely we're getting to the point where newer work on Augustine has pretty decidedly superseded any previous prominence that older views enjoyed? I suppose as long as survey texts carry on the old line of interpretation, there will be some sense in countering it explicitly.

kim fabricius said...

... Augustine as the source of all the theological ills of Western Christendom or even Western society; he appears to have been responsible for everything but the common cold.

I presume it's that ghastly Enlightenment that is the source of acute nasopharyngitis.

adhunt said...


Perhaps it's the analogia entis?

kim fabricius said...

... or Duns Scotus?

adhunt said...

Ha! I think we both know that the real problem is the asarkos

kim fabricius said...


Bob Covolo said...

I just love Kim here:

"he appears to have been responsible for everything but the common cold..."

...and I might add that Gunton traced the swine flu to him.

kim fabricius said...

Yes, Bob, having heard Gunton expound his thesis on "Augustine, the Trinity and the Theological Crisis of the West" (the title of a seminal paper he presented at King's College, London in January 1988) - and been taken in by it! - I only wish that Colin were still around to repent at leisure.

kim fabricius said...

Oh - I should have mentioned Gunton's inaugural lecture in the Chair of Christian Doctrine at King's, given in May 1985, "The One, the Three and the Many".

roger flyer said...

Some English dry high brow (with apologies to Rowan's face--long brow) humour.

Biaggio said...

Augustine seems to have sought the prominent role he plays in Western society. He was so prolific that he had to withdraw (retractions) a good portion of what he wrote. For the longest time he was the divine oracle of Western Christendon. So it is only fair that he has taken his lumps recently to even things up. (Not that Julian et alii did not take some serious slams at him)

At any rate, on many issues, you can quote Augustine on both sides of any issue since he seems to have changed his mind often enough.

Ondrej from Good Reading said...

Might give one of his books a shot...

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