Gary Anderson, professor of Old Testament at the University of Notre Dame, has written an astonishing book that, in ways typical of his work, moves from close textual reading to the widest vistas of interpretation.
When people get around to prioritizing Old Testament scholars of this generation who have made significant contributions to textual interpretation for the guild and for the church, it is likely that Patrick Miller’s name, like that of Abu ben Adam, will lead all the rest.
The tombstone, already in place though happily not yet in use, reads, “Philosopher Gone Wild.” Philosopher refers to the lifelong critical reflection of a man who found philosophy a way to mediate between his grounding in theology and his commitment to science.
On the face of it, it does not seem difficult to state the contradictions that beset a doctrine of predestination. An absolute sense that God determines the outcome of our lives cuts the nerve of moral responsibility. Softening the doctrine to make room for human efforts leads to works righteousness.
Martha Nussbaum is perhaps the most generative public intellectual of our time. She produces thorough, demanding studies on a variety of issues, all of which move toward matters of justice and human rights.
In the film The Reader, Kate Winslet, playing an SS guard accused of great brutality, says to her meaning-seeking erstwhile partner, “Nothing comes out of the camps.” He wants to have a relationship that can restore their former joy, but in her emptiness she resists.
Professor Anderson takes up what must be the most vexing problem facing us wherein faith collides with political reality. I agree with Anderson and would not presume to instruct or challenge him, though I would make the accent somewhat differently.
Every contemporary theological interpreter must come to terms with the fact that every interpretation is local and informed by context. Every interpretation carries with it some ideological marking because no interpretation is, finally, disinterested.
The current conversation concerning science and religion is urgent, but it is neither obvious nor easy. On the surface, that conversation is vexed by shrill advocates on both sides who contribute nothing to the conversation and are not really interested in serious engagement.