"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Natural Theology

As I have noted before, major publishers today continue to publish highly useful "handbooks" or "companions" to various topics. (I have myself contributed to two such forthcoming handbooks from Oxford: one on the sacraments, and another on ecclesiology. Both should be in print next year.) These handbooks aim to bring leading scholars together covering a variety of topics in a given area, offering the reader a portrait that is at once scholarly, current, and accessible.

In March of this year, under Russell Re Manning's editorship, another such handbook was published: The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology (Oxford UP, 2013),672pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:

The Oxford Handbook of Natural Theology is the first collection to consider the full breadth of natural theology from both historical and contemporary perspectives and to bring together leading scholars to offer accessible high-level accounts of the major themes. The volume embodies and develops the recent revival of interest in natural theology as a topic of serious critical engagement. Frequently misunderstood or polemicized, natural theology is an under-studied yet persistent and pervasive presence throughout the history of thought about ultimate reality - from the classical Greek theology of the philosophers to twenty-first century debates in science and religion.

Of interest to students and scholars from a wide range of disciplines, this authoritative handbook draws on the very best of contemporary scholarship to present a critical overview of the subject area. Thirty eight new essays trace the transformations of natural theology in different historical and religious contexts, the place of natural theology in different philosophical traditions and diverse scientific disciplines, and the various cultural and aesthetic approaches to natural theology to reveal a rich seam of multi-faceted theological reflection rooted in human nature and the environments within which we find ourselves.
Two chapters will be of especial interest to Eastern Christians:

3. Natural Theology in the Patristic Period , Wayne Hankey

13. Natural Theology and the Eastern Orthodox Tradition , Christopher C. Knight

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