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Introduction

University Press Scholarship Online

Oxford Scholarship Online

Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture: Responses to the


Work of David Brown
Robert MacSwain and Taylor Worley

Print publication date: 2012


Print ISBN-13: 9780199646821
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013
DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646821.001.0001

Introduction
Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture
Robert MacSwain

DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199646821.003.0001

Abstract and Keywords


This introductory chapter to Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture focuses on the
development of David Brown's thought from The Divine Trinity (1985) to the five-volume
series under consideration this present volume, published between 19992008. Although
it would be a mistake to classify Brown's earlier work as juvenilia, with the publication of
Tradition and Imagination (1999) he emerged as a leading figure in theological
scholarship. However, although all five volumes have been well-reviewed, Brown's
position remains a minority report in contemporary theology, not least because his genre
and method are so distinctive. The primary objective of this current book is thus to open
up the cumulative significance of Brown's work and contribute toward the incorporation
or correction of its diverse themes, arguments, and conclusions vis--vis the

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Introduction
mainstream of academic thought. However, both individually and collectively these
chapters also make an important original contribution to our understandings as they
relate to the life of the Church, academy, and human society.
Keywords: David Brown, theology, aesthetics, culture, philosophy of religion, sacramental theology,
imagination, revelation, tradition, religious experience, incarnation, religious studies, natural theology

Before 1999, David Brown was best known for a book titled The Divine Trinity.1
Published while he was University Lecturer in Ethics and Philosophical Theology at
Oxford, and Chaplain and Fellow of Oriel College, this volume sought to achieve two tasks.
Its primary goal was to defend the doctrines of continuing divine action, the Incarnation,
and the Trinity against a strong trend of deistic, unitarian, or binitarian thought in
twentieth century English theology.2 In regard to the Divine Trinity of the title, Brown
broke with the dominant Augustinian psychological tradition of the West by arguing for a
social doctrine inspired by the Cappadocian Fathers. But a secondary task was to
establish a new discipline of philosophical theology (or the widening of the horizons of the
philosophy of religion) in the process of arguing for the doctrines above.3 By this second
goal Brown meant an approach that was truly interdisciplinary, fully integrating theology,
philosophy, and biblical studies. He insisted that theology and philosophy cannot be kept
artificially apart, as they are at present within the Anglo-Saxon tradition, while also stating
the need for a serious dialogue between the philosophical theologian and the Biblical
scholar.4
The theological perspective of The Divine Trinity was Anglican; its philosophical style was
empirical and analytic; and its approach to biblical studies was historical-critical. Early
assessments of the volume fell pretty clearly into (p.2) two distinct camps, sharply
separated by both nationality and academic discipline. While it was well-received by
leading analytic philosophers of religion in the United States such as William P. Alston and
Eleonore Stump,5 it met with a more hostile reception by important British theologians
such as Colin Gunton, Nicholas Lash, and Kenneth Surin.6 This is not the place to
adjudicate this debate or consider the merits and demerits of this book at any length.
However, it does seem that many critics of The Divine Trinity have not paid sufficient
attention to the very specific context (both temporal and local) in which it was written, and
the very specific audience that Brown sought to address in it. Explicitly taking its
inspiration from Joseph Butlers Analogy of Religion (1736), The Divine Trinity should be
read in that same tradition of Anglican controversial and apologetic literature; to judge it
by the criteria of (for example) Barthian dogmatics is arguably to make a category error.7
(p.3) In 1990 Brown moved from Oxford to Durham to take up the joint appointment of
Van Mildert Professor of Divinity at Durham University and Residentiary Canon of
Durham Cathedral. During this period his research and teaching interests widened
significantly beyond his earlier focus on the dialogue between theology and philosophy to
consider the relationship between theology and human culture more generally, most
especially as expressed in the arts. At Oxford Brown had worked closely with Basil
Mitchell and Richard Swinburne, but at Durham his new colleague Ann Loades was a
particularly important influence on his theological development, not least in challenging

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Introduction
him to take feminist insights more seriously, as well as deepening his appreciation of
dance and the sacramental character of the material world. They team-taught seminars on
sacramental theology, and co-edited two substantial essay collections this area: The
Sense of the Sacramental: Movement and Measure in Art and Music, Place and Time and
Christ: The Sacramental Word.8 Brown also co-authored a closely-related book with
David Fuller of Durhams English DepartmentSigns of Grace: The Sacraments in Poetry
and Prosethat offered commentary on selections from a wide range of literary classics.9
Aside from these three co-edited or co-authored volumes, Brown published
comparatively little during his first decade as Canon Professor at Durham. While some
may have concluded that he had made his scholarly contribution in the 1980s and then
retired comfortably into an ecclesial/academic sinecure, the reality was quite different
and a great deal of research and thought was going on beneath the surface. Thus, in 1999
and 2000 Brown published two companion volumes with Oxford University Press:
Tradition and Imagination: Revelation and Change and Discipleship and Imagination:
Christian Tradition and Truth. Three more booksalso published by Oxfordeventually
followed, closely connected to the earlier two but which form a trilogy in their own right:
God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience (2004), God and Grace of
Body: Sacrament in Ordinary (2007), and God and Mystery in Words: Experience
Through Metaphor and Drama (2008). The first (p.4) two focus on biblical revelation and
Christian tradition, whereas the trilogy focuses on religious experience mediated through
both nature and human culture in all its forms. It is the remarkable scholarly achievement
of these specific five books that this current volume sets out to summarize, assess,
criticize, and carry forward.
While it would be a mistake to classify Browns earlier worksuch as The Divine Trinity
as juvenilia, as many reviews indicate there is no doubt that with the publication of
Tradition and Imagination he found his distinctive voice and mtier, emerging as a
leading figure in contemporary theological scholarship. Rowan Williams, for example,
wrote that Tradition and Imagination is a major achievement, the fruit of long and
extraordinarily varied study, written with Browns characteristic clarity, opening doors
into all sorts of fresh insights.The implications of the argument for liturgy and ethics as
well as theology are large, and we can be sure that this book and its sequel will play a
hugely significant role in the debates of the decades ahead.10 The American Jesuit
Edward T. Oakes wrote that, in this volume and in Discipleship and Imagination, Brown
has not only brought Anglican theology to a whole new level of achievement but has also
proposed a new role for imagination in a way that will mark a turning point in Christian
esthetics.11 In a review of both volumes, church historian Margaret R. Miles concluded
that they are
skillfully researched, interestingly written, and represent a major contribution to
historical theology. The serious use of poetry, novels, films, and paintings as
theological communication is exemplary. Artworks are not merely illustrative, but
form significant parts of his argument. The major claim of the books, namely the
openness of Scripture and tradition to the best insights of people in diverse social,

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Introduction
cultural, and intellectual contexts, is important and well substantiated.12
And so on. While there were of course voices raised in dissent, of which more in a
moment, the cumulative impression of the reviews is an exceptionally high degree of
enthusiasm and approbation, for these and the other three books as well.13
(p.5) The five volumes inaugurated by Tradition and Imagination present many detailed
arguments across a vast canvas through a sophisticated blend of philosophy, theology,
biblical studies, classical studies, church history, comparative religion, comparative
literature, and a wide range of other disciplines and cultural studies, particularly those
related to the fine and performing arts, up to and including pop culture in its various
manifestations and media. The primarily analytic and empirical approach of The Divine
Trinity was not totally abandoned, but has now been thoroughly integrated into a much
deeper and richer context, one that more faithfully represents the genuine complexity of
the Christian tradition and which is thus more fruitful in interpreting, assessing, and
defending it.
Overarching and unifying the whole series are Browns firm convictions, implicit in his
earlier work but now articulated more clearly and impressively, that human imagination
no less than reason is essential to the theological enterprise; that Scripture is not a fixed
text but a manifestation of a living and moving tradition; that revelation is a culturallyenmeshed, fallibly-mediated, and progressively-grasped phenomenon; and that divine
action, grace, and truth are to be found outside the Christian Church as well as within, in
secular philosophy and other religions no less than through the work of painters,
sculptors, writers, composers, musicians, dancers, athletes, film-makers, architects, town
planners, landscape gardeners, and so forth.
While this is an extraordinarily capacious vision, in Browns case it is understood to be the
natural outworking of the implications of a specifically and indeed uniquely Christian
doctrine, namely the Incarnation of God in human flesh in the person of Jesus Christ.
According to Brown, The incarnation reveals a God who took with maximum seriousness
the limitations of a specific cultural context, and so we only do that revelation a disservice
if we posit as always present in Scripture the viewpoints now taken by the contemporary
Church. Instead we need to hear how the story develops, and thus of a God continuously
involved in the history of the community of faith.14 Browns incarnational focus also
grounds another important emphasis, especially in the later volumes, namely that all
material reality can potentially function sacramentally as vehicles of divine grace.15 If
Brown reaches certain liberal conclusions, he does so for profoundly orthodox reasons.
Indeed, as an Anglo-Catholic priest and scholar, Brown simply sees himself as making a
contribution to Catholic theology, broadly construed.
However, Browns approach in these five volumes thus raises two immediate difficulties
for contemporary systematic theology: genre and method. (p.6) As for genre, although
Brown is undoubtedly dealing with Christian doctrine, he often seems to be doing so
from an historical or cultural or even religious studies perspective, rather than from
one that is recognizably systematic or dogmatic. There is no doubt that much of
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Introduction
Browns exposition is historical or descriptive rather than systematic or analytic. And yet
it is equally clear that he is also making normative, first-order claims about Christian
doctrine: not just what is believed, but what should be believed. However, as he himself
says, he is attempting to make this argument through a new way of doing theology, one
in which religious practice [is] fully integrated into consideration of the more academic
issues.16 Partly for this reason, his work in these five volumes seems to fall somewhere
between current approaches to theology on one hand and religious studies on the other,
which may cause scholars in both disciplines to misunderstand (and thus neglect) his true
intentions as a constructive theologian.
A second point about genre: although Brown is indeed doing theology rather than pure
religious studies, he still seems to be one of the very few contemporary theologians who
fully understands that Christianity, whatever else it may be, is also a religionand often a
rather strange one at that. That is, Christianity is not simply a fascinatingly complex beliefsystem (divinely inspired or otherwise) roughly analogous to philosophy, something to be
analysed by scholars and its concepts (re)arranged; rather, it has been and continues to
be a matrix and way of life for millions of ordinary people in multiple cultural and linguistic
contexts over the past twenty centuries. In addition to beliefs and scriptures, Christianity
thus consists of rituals, liturgies, sacraments, traditions, ascetic practices, annual
celebrations, pilgrimages, music, poetry, the cult of saints (including their relics), clergy,
monastics, and material manifestations of numerous sorts: buildings, vestments, icons,
statues, jewelry, mosaics, paintings, altars, fonts, and so forth. And, in the contemporary
world, one must add: radio broadcasts, television programmes, photographs, films, pop
music, magazines, websites, blogs, podcasts
While many Christians dismiss such cultural practices and material products as ephemera
at best and impediments at worst, such disdain is actually evidence for a residual and
persistent docetism, as they are arguably as much a consequence of the Incarnation of
God in human flesh as Browns theological convictions outlined above. That is, they are all
essential to what it means to be human, which is a bodily, social, and cultural existence,
not simply a mental or spiritual one. At any rate, although this rich tapestry is the primary
focus of much scholarship in religious studies, it remains almost completely invisible in
contemporary systematic theology and philosophy of religion. Brown, however, writes
about these matters explicitly and extensively and weaves them (p.7) into his general
argument, clearly convinced that all of these components of Christianityeven those
aspects often dismissed as legend, superstition, kitsch, or folk religionmust be
considered in order to achieve an adequate understanding of Christian doctrine.
Otherwise we are dealing with a disembodied abstraction rather than a living tradition of
faith.17
As for method, Browns openness to divine action, grace, truth, religious experience, and
even revelation outside of Scripture, orthodox tradition, and the Christian community
raises natural concerns about normative criteria, especially when he speaks of the
limitations of biblical insights being corrected by later tradition.18 For example,
Kathryn Tanner states that Browns belief that the incarnation endorses human creativity

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Introduction
more strongly, that here God has abandoned Godself to a tradition of interpretation
seems wildly lopsided and quite inadequate soteriologically.19 This concern about criteria
has been raised in almost every review of Browns five volumes, is considered in detail in
various chapters in this book, and is the focus of a promised forthcoming monograph
from Brown, so it will not be treated at length in this introduction. It is indeed a major
issue and, for many, a stumbling block in the reception of Browns project.20
It may, however, be helpful to observe that even if Tanners statement is a correct
summary of Browns position (which he denies), it is also a paradigm example of what
Brown would (rightly or wrongly) consider criteria set in advance that fail to grapple
sufficiently with the way the world is.21 But if careful historical study leads to the
conclusion that the best way to construe the Christian tradition in all its bewildering
diversity and remarkable development is what Brown calls divine accommodation,22
then the soteriological (p.8) implications will just have to sort themselves out
accordingly. In other words, as Brown sees it, although he indeed defends the distinction
between historical original and theological truth, the relation between them must be
carefully and continually negotiated, and in particular doctrinal considerations such as
soteriology cannot drive our historical interpretations willy-nilly.23
Following this line of thought, in the conclusion to Discipleship and Imagination Brown
speaks of
the continuous adaptation of Gods revelation to the world under new
circumstances and conditions. The process was a messy one since it entailed Gods
deep involvement with people like ourselves, and so a fallible Bible and a fallible
Church interacting with a no less fallible wider world.But discipleship, if it is about
anything, is surely not so much about instantaneous results as about a continuing
process of transformation, as both as individuals and as a community we gradually
learn more deeply of Gods meaning and purpose for our lives.24
Brown worries, however, that the persistent failure of Christians to accept the fallible and
messy character of Scripture, the Church, and human knowledge in general means that
Christianity is now progressively entering into a world of self-deception where it must
inevitably seem less and less plausible in the modern world.25 This is, of course, a
familiar apologetic concern, and one that is soundly dismissed by certain schools of
theology. But as Brown sees it, the problem is not that religious belief requires rational
support in the face of secular sceptism, but rather that the Church and its theologians
have embraced instrumental reason and a utilitarian value-system, both of which
undermine the real reasons why people actually believe and come to faith.26
Thus, according to Brown, the fundamental thesis underlying all five volumes is that
both natural and revealed theology are in crisis, and that the only way out is to give
proper attention to the cultural embeddedness of both.27 So, as indicated above, the
focus on biblical revelation and Christian tradition in the first two volumes shifts to the
trilogys concern with religious experience mediated through both nature and human
culture in all its forms: (p.9) art and architecture, place and pilgrimage, gardens and

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Introduction
sporting events, food and drink, music and dance, sacrament and liturgy, metaphor and
drama. These are all aspects of life that were once central to Christian theology, but which
have become peripheral, and Brown seeks to reconfigure theology so that these matters
are once again integral to the discipline.
In 2002, after the publication of the first two volumes, Brown was made a Fellow of the
British Academy; and in 2007, while still publishing the trilogy, he became Professor of
Theology, Aesthetics, and Culture, and Wardlaw Professor, at the University of St
Andrews.28 While these five books have been individually well-received, up to this point
there has not been any sustained attempt to survey this series as a whole, to carefully
assess its cumulative impact and implications for biblical studies, theology, philosophy of
religion, aesthetics, literature, hermeneutics, liturgical studies, pop culture, and the
study of religion.29 To this end, an extremely distinguished and diverse set of
contributors representing multiple disciplines and various Christian traditions has been
carefully assembled and asked to reflect upon Browns thesis as expressed in these
books. Although all view Brown and his work with respect, the contributors include those
who are fundamentally opposed to his approach as well as those who are in basic
agreement with it. They have been asked to summarize that aspect of Browns thought
they wish to focus upon, provide some commentary and critique, and then to relate it to
their own personal discipline or project. That is, to bring themselves to the table, so that
this is truly a conversation. And, in time-honoured fashion, Brown has been given the
opportunity to respond. A brief postscript, dealing specifically with the implications of this
volume for theological aesthetics, rounds out the symposium.
The primary objective of this current book is thus to open up the cumulative significance
of Browns thesis as explored in this series for a wider audience, and help contribute
toward the incorporationor correction!of its diverse themes, arguments, and
conclusions vis--vis the mainstream of academic thought on these topics and areas.30
However, this volume has an equally (p.10) important second objective as well. Given
the stature of the contributors, the following chapters are not merely of interest as
commentary on Browns work, but both individually and collectively they also make an
important original contribution to our understandings of theology, aesthetics, and
culture as they relate to the life of the Church, academy, and human society.31
Notes:
(1 ) David Brown, The Divine Trinity (London: Duckworth/La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1985).
But see also, from this period in his career, Continental Philosophy and Modern
Theology: An Engagement (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1987).
(2) For example, the work of Geoffrey Lampe (191280) and Maurice Wiles (19292005),
as well as the influential essay collection edited by John Hick, The Myth of God Incarnate
(London: SCM Press, 1977).
(3) Brown, The Divine Trinity, x.
(4) Ibid., x and xvii.

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Introduction
(5) See William P. Alston, The Holy Spirit and the Trinity, in Stephen T. Davis (ed.),
Philosophy and Theological Discourse (London: Macmillan, 1997), 10223; and Eleonore
Stump, Review of David Brown, The Divine Trinity, in Faith and Philosophy 3 (1986), 463
8.
(6) See Guntons review in Journal of Theological Studies 37 (1986), 66971; Lashs
review in The Times (Thursday, 21 November 1985), 13; and Surins substantial article,
The Trinity and Philosophical Reflection: A Study of David Browns The Divine Trinity,
originally published in Modern Theology 2 (1986), 23556. Brown responded in the same
issue with Wittgenstein Against the Wittgensteinians: A Reply to Kenneth Surin on The
Divine Trinity, 25776, where he also addressed Lashs review. Surins article was later
included in his collection, The Turnings of Darkness and Light: Essays in Philosophical
and Systematic Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 2040, and
here he generously included a reference to Browns response, adding to the final note:
For Browns powerful reply to the criticisms formulated in this essay, see (247, note
32).
(7) For a survey and analysis of the background against which The Divine Trinity should
be understood, see Brian Hebblethwaite, Contemporary Unitarianism, in his The
Incarnation: Collected Essays in Christology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1987), 12638. And for a discussion of The Divine Trinity as, in part, a response to Wiles
in particular, see Basil Mitchell, Revelation Revisited, in Sarah Coakley and David A. Pailin
(eds.), The Making and Remaking of Christian Doctrine: Essays in Honour of Maurice
Wiles (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 17791. However, Brown subsequently did
accept several of his critics points, at least in regard to the expression of his thought, and
his understanding of the Trinity continued to evolve over the years since 1985. For some
later statements that revise or refine the positions taken in The Divine Trinity, see
Trinitarian Personhood and Individuality, in Ronald J. Feenstra and Cornelius Plantinga,
Jr (eds.), Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement: Philosophical and Theological Essays
(Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1989), 4878; Trinity, in Philip L.
Quinn and Charles Taliaferro (eds.), A Companion to Philosophy of Religion (Oxford:
Blackwell Publishers, 1997), 52531; The Trinity in Art, in Stephen T. Davis, Daniel
Kendall SJ, and Gerald OCollins SJ (eds.), The Trinity: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on
the Trinity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999), 32956; and a brief but significant
caveat in David Brown, Tradition and Imagination: Revelation and Change (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 1999), 2779. As it happens, the growing interest in both social
Trinitarianism and analytic philosophical theology has led to a revived interest in The
Divine Trinity, and a number of recent discussions have dealt with it in some detail. See,
for example, Sarah Coakley, Persons in the Social Doctrine of the Trinity: Current
Analytic Discussion and Cappadocian Theology, originally published in the Davis,
Kendall, and OCollins volume on the Trinity cited above (12344), and reprinted in her
essay collection, Powers and Submissions: Spirituality, Philosophy, and Gender (Oxford:
Blackwell Publishers, 2002), 10929; Morwenna Ludlow, Gregory of Nyssa, Ancient and
(Post)modern (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007); and many of the essays gathered
in Thomas McCall and Michael C. Rea (eds.), Philosophical and Theological Essays on the

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Introduction
Trinity (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009).
(8) Both volumes published by SPCK in London, in 1995 and 1996 respectively.
(9) Published in 1995 by Cassell in the UK and Morehouse in the United States;
republished by Continuum in 2000. On this general period, see Browns comments in the
preface to his God and Enchantment of Place: Reclaiming Human Experience (Oxford:
Oxford University Press, 2004), vivii. See also his contributions to William J. Abraham
and Stephen Holtzer (eds.), The Rationality of Religious Belief: Essays in Honour of
Basil Mitchell (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987); Alan Padgett (ed.), Reason and the
Christian Religion: Essays in Honour of Richard Swinburne (Oxford: Clarendon Press,
1994); and Natalie K. Watson and Stephen Burns (eds.), Exchanges of Grace: Essays in
Honour of Ann Loades (London: SCM Press, 2008).
(10) Rowan Williams, Review of David Brown, Tradition and Imagination, in Theology 104
(2001), 4523, citation from 453. See also Williamss later comment that after publishing in
1985 a study, somewhat in the analytical manner, of Trinitarian doctrine which met with a
rather mixed reception, [Brown] has now completed two volumeswhich expound with
great sophistication and broad cultural reference a gently evolutionist approach to
doctrinal questions and a fresh and intriguing hermeneutic of the reception of biblical
narrative. See Rowan Williams, Theology in the Twentieth Century, in Ernest Nicholson
(ed.), A Century of Theological and Religious Studies in Britain (Oxford: Published for
the British Academy by Oxford University Press, 2003), 23752, citation from 249.
(11 ) Edward T. Oakes SJ, Review of David Brown, Tradition and Imagination and
Discipleship and Imagination, in Theological Studies 62 (2001), 3868, citation from 386.
(12) Margaret R. Miles, Review of David Brown, Tradition and Imagination and
Discipleship and Imagination, in Anglican Theological Review 83 (2001), 9258, citations
from 9278.
(13) For a more extensive list of reviews, see the Appendix.
(14) Brown, Tradition and Imagination, 1.
(15) For an engagement with this aspect of Browns thought, looking particularly at God
and Enchantment of Place, see Patrick Sherry, The Sacramentality of Things, New
Blackfriars 89 (2008), 57590.
(16) From Browns personal website: http://www.d-brown-theology.co.uk/otherwork.html
(accessed 24 October 2011).
(17) For just one example out of many, consider Browns somewhat surprising decision
to illuminate the Christian understanding of good and evil partly through the historically
significant but now neglected symbols of the unicorn and Leviathan (Discipleship and
Imagination, 16271). While a more logically- or doctrinally-oriented approach would
focus on free will or original sin, Brown observes that thinking does not always proceed

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Introduction
by logical inference but sometimes develops imaginatively, simply through symbolic
images being put to new uses (162).
(18) Brown, Tradition and Imagination, 1.
(19) Kathryn Tanner, Review of David Brown, Tradition and Imagination, in International
Journal of Systematic Theology 3 (2001), 11821, citation from 121. Tanners review has
become a touchstone for those critical of Browns general approach, cited by, for
example, Kevin J. Vanhoozer in The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical-Linguistic Approach
to Christian Theology (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2005), 161; Markus
Bockmuehl, The Conversion of Desire in St Pauls Hermeneutics, in J. Ross Wagner, C.
Kavin Rowe, and A. Katherine Grieb (eds.), The Word Leaps the Gap: Essays on Scripture
and Theology in Honor of Richard B. Hays (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008), 5089; and
Jeremy Begbies chapter in this present volume.
(20) He is currently working on two volumes related to the series, but dealing with more
analytic and systematic issues: Imaginative Truth and Experience of God, and Revelation,
Experience and Criteria.
(21 ) Brown, God and Enchantment of Place, 3. See Begbies chapter for a critical
response to this claim, and note 78 of Browns response for a brief reply to Tanner and
Vanhoozer.
(22) The title of Chapter 6 of Tradition and Imagination (275321).
(23) Brown makes the distinction between historical original and theological truth in The
Divine Trinity, 1035, and it is discussed further in the debate between Surin and Brown
cited in note 6. Browns reluctance to let soteriological considerations determine either
historical interpretations or theological conclusions is explicitly stated in The Divine Trinity
as well: In the past soteriological argument played a major role in defending the doctrine
of the Trinity, particularly the Incarnation, as in Athanasius and Anselm. I have not
mentioned these [arguments] in the present work because for reasons too complex to
mention here they are not persuasive. Soteriology can only be a consequence of the
Incarnation, not something determined in advance of it. But in the case of the Holy Spirit
it is possible to offer a soteriological argument though it is of limited force (204
emphasis added). See 2045 for the full context.
(24) Brown, Discipleship and Imagination, 4056.
(25) Brown, God and Mystery in Words, 2723.
(26) Brown, God and Enchantment of Place, 13; God and Grace of Body, 17.
(27) Brown, God and Mystery in Words, 269 (emphasis added).
(28) St Andrews was founded in 1411 by Bishop Henry Wardlaw (d.1440), and
professors at the University who are members of the British Academy or Royal Society

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Introduction
are designated Wardlaw Professors in addition to their personal titles.
(29) For Browns own summary, see the Conclusion to God and Mystery in Words, 269
78. A collective review of all five volumes by the present author, with particular concern
to draw out their implications for philosophy of religion, is forthcoming in Faith and
Philosophy 29 (2012).
(30) It should be noted, however, that even with nineteen chapters focused on five
books, several very important issues and themes have not been treated. For just five
examples out of many: Discipleship and Imagination has a substantial chapter on the Book
of Job and the problem of suffering; God and Enchantment of Place deals with town
planning and urban life; God and Grace of Body discusses the theological significance of
food and drink; God and Mystery in Words treats hymnody, church music, and
homiletics; and various volumes engage not only with Christianity but also with Judaism,
Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The following responses are thus selective rather than
comprehensive. Also note that this volume is intentionally not intended as a general
Festschrift for Brown, but as a symposium focused on just these five books. Thus, other
important aspects of his work, such as social Trinitarianism and kenotic Christology, are
only treated as they relate to this particular series.
(31 ) I am very grateful to Ben King, Ann Loades, and Taylor Worley for comments on
earlier versions of this introduction.

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