Continuing discussion.

EPS Blog

This is the blog area for the Evangelical Philosophical Society and its journal, Philosophia Christi.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus: An Interview with Brian J. Wright

In December 2017, Fortress Press will publish Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus: A Window into Early Christian Reading Practices, by Brian J. Wright. Wright is adjunct professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University and has published a number of academic studies in the Journal of Theological Studies, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Bulletin for Biblical Research, Trinity Journal, and Tyndale Bulletin.

We recently interviewed Wright about his soon-to-be-released book, the implications of his argument, and the significance of his scholarship for the practice of communal reading today.

Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus not only has value for those doing an historical reconstruction of early Christian reading practices, but also worthwhile for Christian philosophers and theologians working on issues of scripture's authority and canon formation, engaging issues of hermeneutics, and the role of communal reading practices in shaping communal identity over time.


What is the main argument of Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus?
The main argument of my book is that communal reading events were widespread during the time of Jesus (i.e., the first century AD). Practically speaking, this brings the academic conversation back at least one century, overturning the predominant idea that the communal reading of written texts, and even the use/demand for written texts, were a second century or later phenomenon (or trend). In other words, the simplistic notion that only a small segment of society in certain urban areas could have been involved in such communal reading events during the first century has been overturned.
What are the relevant Jewish/Hebraic 'background culture' factors that shape first-century Christian communal reading?
It seems to me that the early Christian movement largely inherited the book culture, reading communities, and literary practices of Judaism, even if early Christian communities modified or transformed them in diverse ways. Thus, one factor I note in my work is that Christian communal reading events were not a new sacred phenomenon. A main (yet additional) factor suggesting this was the role of synagogues in early Christian origins. We also see the NT authors, such as Paul, using the terminology of “tradition(s),” which has a long history in Judaism. To give just one more specific example here, there is a first-century Jewish text that has a scene where a mother addresses her sons after their father dies, and she focuses exclusively on what their father read, taught, and sang at home: the Jewish Scriptures. I believe we also see this type of focus and even Christian obligation to train our families, which includes reading the Scriptures communally.
What do you care most about in this important discussion?
I know this might sound trite, but I care most about discovering the truth. Why was there such an emphasis in the New Testament on the communal reading of written texts (e.g., Col. 4:16; 1 Thess. 5:27; 1 Tim 4:13; Rev. 1:3)? Was communal reading a conserving force within literary traditions in the first century AD? To what extent did it control the textual transmission of the Christian tradition and influence its stability? By knowing the correct answers to these types of questions, as a historian I can better reconstruct the history and culture of Jesus’s time, and as an interpreter I can more accurately understand God’s Word.
How do you develop your book's argument?
In one sense, developing my argument was the hardest part of the book because I was mostly navigating in uncharted territory within New Testament studies, and identifying these events is more complex than merely looking for some key terms or in one corpus of literature. But in another sense, developing the argument was the easiest part of this work. Every time a location was identified, like Jesus reading communally in a synagogue in Nazareth (Luke 4:16–30), it automatically advanced my main argument to some extent. As the evidence quickly multiplied, I then placed it within the political, social, and economic context of the day. I believe this enhanced the strength of my argument that communal reading events were widespread because such factors did not necessarily hinder them in the Roman Empire.
However widespread, was the Christian practice distinct in forming "communal identity" among early Jesus followers? If so, how?
I note several factors in my work that enhance the notion that the earliest Christian communities were distinct in forming communal identity. The picture more often than not is of a didactic community that used texts in forming communal identity, while emphasizing such things as the office of teacher, gift of teaching, commands to teach, traditions passed on, and communal reading. In fact, I note several outsiders who attended and tried to imitate Christian communal reading events in certain ways. I also show the distinctiveness of Christian reading culture by noting such things as the inclusion of new writings. But let me conclude by giving just one verse as a distinct example. Paul states, “I put you all under oath before the Lord to have this letter read aloud to all the brothers” (1 Thess. 5:27).
Why do you find your argument to be compelling?
I think the argument is compelling because it is data rich. In fact, at each stage of research, I had to keep  narrowing my parameters. I started the project looking for all types of evidence from the first three centuries. Before long, I realized I would not even be able to cover one type of evidence (literary) in one of the centuries (the first century). Even after adding a highly selective appendix with 60 additional authors and 142 texts, I was unable to include all the literary evidence I found, not to mention other types of evidence, such as epigraphic and archeological.
What do you anticipate as some criticisms of your argument that you find most interesting or
worthwhile?

Craig Keener noted this regarding my book, “Although subsequent scholarship regularly debates some conclusions of any ground breaking work, it remains indebted to the foundations that such a work lays.” I  reference his comment because I’m not naïve to think that my book will settle all matters. In fact, I expect to receive my share of criticism, which is par for the course. So if I were to venture a guess on a couple of them, I would suspect at least seeing these two broad criticisms: (1) my survey-of-the-entire-NT approach, and (2) my seemingly arbitrary selection of authors and texts, especially those at the beginning and end of the first century.
What is your response to those criticisms?
I would say without hesitation that those criticisms are correct. I did do a survey of the entire NT instead of  narrowing my focus onto one author, book, or verse. I did have to establish parameters and make certain selections of the evidence that might initially seem arbitrary and will not please every academic reviewer. Nevertheless, I would respond to the first one by saying that I cast a wider net than many modern scholars do because I’m asking and answering only the first of a series of important historical questions regarding communal reading: how widespread were they? As for the second one, I would say that other selections could always have been made. What I don’t think can be denied, however, is that I have provided more evidence for first-century communal reading events in my book then anyone has thus far. Therefore, I don’t think those types of critiques will jeopardize my main argument that communal reading events were widespread and an available conserving force within literary traditions in the first century AD.
How does Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus intersect with your other current or forthcoming projects?
Given the wide-ranging implications of this study, such as the affects it will have on hermeneutics and possibly even future translations, I think this work will continue intersecting with all of my current and forthcoming projects. I am actually finishing a devotional book, which Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus has influenced in some powerful ways, such as how spiritual formation occurred during the communal reading of Scripture.
How did early Christians approach communal reading with an expectation that the practice would be spiritually formative?
The Book of Revelation probably contains one of the most explicit statements regarding your question: “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of the prophecy, and blessed are those who hear and who keep what is written in it” (1:3). This statement alone demonstrates that the author foresees his work being read aloud communally and the expectation that the practice would be spiritually formative. In fact, it comes right after the opening verse, which states that this revelation is for all Christ’s “slaves” (= Christians). Elsewhere, believers seemed to accept the NT writings, like the word of Paul, as the word of God and that this word was presently active in their lives. Thus, Christians understood what it meant to live in the sphere of a sacred text that was read communally and they approached it as such.
What do you notice about communal reading as "a conserving force within literary traditions in the first century AD"?
For many scholars, I think the “pot of gold” in this study will be the quality controls that are linked to communal reading events. There are simply too many examples to list here, but I will try to summarize just a few of them to illustrate my point. Some first-century authors mention their community getting angry and throwing away manuscripts they received to read if they contained mistakes. Other first-century authors write at length about textual differences, such as changes to earlier manuscripts and spelling differences between them, in order to highlight a quality control they think should be in place when audiences hear poets read their works. Still other first-century authors mention posting their communal readings publicly so others can read them, discuss the peer pressure involved during readings, and write about making corrections to manuscripts during readings.
Can communal reading still be a 'conserving force' today? If so, in what sense and under what kinds of conditions?
I think it can and should. Let me first give just two specific examples that happened after the first century. The so-called Muratorian Fragment from the second century notes that even though the Shepherd of Hermas should be read personally, “it cannot be read publicly to the people in church.” Fast forward about a century and there is a situation recorded in a letter from Augustine to Jerome. According to Augustine, there was one word in Jerome’s Latin translation (the Vulgate) of Jonah 4:6 that differed from what they had been hearing read communally for generations, and it caused an uproar in his congregation. I share these two examples to say this, communal reading can and should still act as a conserving force today because other so-called testaments of Jesus Christ (like the Book of Mormon) and new translations of the Scriptures (like the Jehovah’s Witnesses New World Translation) continue to be produced but should not be embraced or read communally in Christian churches.
How might your book help illuminate discussions about "hermeneutics" and the "authority of  scripture"?
It is quite ironic (or well-timed) that you ask me this question. A few days ago, I just received a courtesy copy of Klein, Blomberg, and Hubbard’s Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, which is in its third edition (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2017). As I flipped through the Table of Contents, I was reminded of how much my book applies to many aspects of hermeneutics and the authority of Scripture. For instance, and using their work as just one representative example of the various categories, I could see my work illuminating nine out of their 12 chapters. If I were to pick just one section to illustrate my point and answer your question, though, the one that keeps popping into my mind right now is their discussion on presuppositions and preunderstandings. I think my book will help interpreters identify and evaluate some of their preconceptions regarding the social and cultural matrix of Jesus’s day, especially as they relate to literacy and literate behavior.
How has your research for this book shaped your own reading practices of scripture?
It has affected my own reading practices in numerous ways, but I’ll just note three examples here. First, I believe my research shows that the earliest Christian communities prioritized the communal reading of Scripture. Thus, I try to model and emphasize this social dimension in my pastorate, as well as in the classrooms I teach. Second, I think my research also demonstrates that early Christianity was bookish. This has influenced my reading practices as I study and discuss literature in Christian gatherings. Third, I believe my research indicates that Christians have always been concerned about having a reliable copy of the Scriptures, and would object to alterations. This is something that also shapes my reading practices in that I am conscientious about having a reliable copy of the Scriptures, and even willing to question any significant variations.
I wonder if what you are also saying is that the social-cultural practice of communal reading, at least in the first century, is suggestive for how authority 'works' in community, at least tacitly. That is, not all texts merit a communal reading. But perhaps the tacit desiderata is this: those texts that have authority - at least authority to form identity - should be read communally; for that is how a particular authority is designed to be realized and recognized? The Scriptures, of course, are such a text.
I think you are absolutely right, and that you could even state that a little stronger. Only some literary traditions were shared, read aloud, and/or recited during certain communal gatherings. Again, let me give a few specific examples. Bishop Serapion writes to the Church in Rhossus about the Gospel of Peter, advising them not to read it communally. Pliny’s reading group often promoted or rejected certain texts, authors, and participants for their events. Tertullian specifically mentions the communal reading of the books of God during Christian gatherings: “We meet to read the books of God.” Justin Martyr refers to the communal reading of the apostolic memoirs and the writings of the prophets on the Lord’s Day. Meaning, various traditions eagerly awaited acceptance or rejection from various communal reading events. Will the literary community read it communally? Will they endorse it? Will they actively make copies and circulate it? Will the god(s) accept this text? Will people preserve it for future generations—via manuscripts, monuments, frescos, notebooks, etc.? In fact, some textual critics, such as Emanuel Tov, demonstrate that certain sacred texts were selected by scribes to receive extraordinary care.
What can communities of Christian scholars - especially philosophers and theologians! - gain by the insights of early Christian reading practices of Scripture?
D. A. Carson said of my book, “One wonders why these things have not been brought to light before.” I think he is exactly right to note this because, although the evidence has been around a long time, our knowledge (or incorporation) of it has not. Thus, beyond what I mentioned earlier regarding its contributions to hermeneutics and the authority of scripture conversations, and the freshness of the evidence as Carson noted, let me mention one more major takeaway communities of Christian scholars can glean from early Christian reading practices. The regular practice of reading texts communally points us in the direction of a more stable textual tradition.
In closing, any particular recommendations to aid a person's further study of your subject-matter?

Absolutely. To keep the list manageable, though, I’ll just note three standard works and two articles in relation to ancient book culture, as well as a few names of key scholars that people should know about.  

  1. Harry Y. Gamble’s Books and Readers in the Early Church: A History of Early Christian Texts (New Haven:Yale University Press, 1995). 
  2. William Johnson’s Readers and Reading Culture in the High Roman Empire: A Study on Elite Communities (New York: Oxford University Press, 2010). 
  3. William A. Johnson and Holt N. Parker's edited volume, Ancient Literacies: The Culture of Reading in Greece and Rome (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009). 
  4. “Ancient Literacy in New Testament Research: Incorporating a Few More Lines of Enquiry,” TrinJ 36.2 (2015): 161–89. 
  5. “Ancient Rome’s Daily News Publication with Some Likely Implications for Early Christian Studies,” TynBull 67.1 (2016): 145–60.
In fact, chapter 14 of Ancient Literacies has a topically indexed bibliography covering 20 years (1989–2009) of this multifaceted subject-matter, focusing on the cultural and social significance of literacy and literate behavior.

And at the risk of not mentioning so many other key scholars (!), here are just half-a-dozen scholars I think people would do well to read extensively: Roger Bagnall, Scott D. Charlesworth, Charles E. Hill, Larry Hurtado, Michael J. Kruger, and Alan Millard.

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

New Volumes on Criticisms and Defenses of the Kalam Argument

In November 2017, Bloomsbury Academic will publish The Kalam Cosmological Argument: Philosophical Arguments for the Finitude of the Past, vol 1, and then The Kalam Cosmological Argument: Scientific Evidence for the Beginning of the Universe, vol. 2, co-edited by former EPS presidents, William Lane Craig and Paul Copan. William Lane Craig is a Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and at Houston Baptist University. Paul Copan is the Pledger Family Chair of Philosophy and Ethics at Palm Beach Atlantic University

From the publisher's description for volume 1:
Did the universe begin to exist? If so, did it have a cause? Or could it have come into existence uncaused, from nothing? These questions are taken up by the medieval-though recently-revived-kalam cosmological argument, which has arguably been the most discussed philosophical argument for God's existence in recent decades. The kalam's line of reasoning maintains that the series of past events cannot be infinite but rather is finite. Since the universe could not have come into being uncaused, there must be a transcendent cause of the universe's beginning, a conclusion supportive of theism. This anthology on the philosophical arguments for the finitude of the past asks: Is an infinite series of past events metaphysically possible? Should actual infinites be restricted to theoretical mathematics, or can an actual infinite exist in the concrete world? These essays by kalam proponents and detractors engage in lively debate about the nature of infinity and its conundrums; about frequently-used kalam argument paradoxes of Tristram Shandy, the Grim Reaper, and Hilbert's Hotel; and about the infinity of the future.

From the publisher's description for volume 2:
The ancient kalam cosmological argument maintains that the series of past events is finite and that therefore the universe began to exist. Two recent scientific discoveries have yielded plausible prima facie physical evidence for the beginning of the universe. The expansion of the universe points to its beginning-to a Big Bang-as one retraces the universe's expansion in time. And the second law of thermodynamics, which implies that the universe's energy is progressively degrading, suggests that the universe began with an initial low entropy condition. The kalam cosmological argument-perhaps the most discussed philosophical argument for God's existence in recent decades-maintains that whatever begins to exist must have a cause. And since the universe began to exist, there must be a transcendent cause of its beginning, a conclusion which is confirmatory of theism. So this medieval argument for the finitude of the past has received fresh wind in its sails from recent scientific discoveries. This collection reviews and assesses the merits of the latest scientific evidences for the universe's beginning. It ends with the kalam argument's conclusion that the universe has a cause-a personal cause with properties of theological significance.

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Friday, October 6, 2017

Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus

In December 2017, Fortress Press will publish, Communal Reading in the Time of Jesus: A Window into Early Christian Reading Practices, by Brian J. Wright. Wright is adjunct professor at Palm Beach Atlantic University and has published a number of academic studies in the Journal of Theological Studies, Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Bulletin for Biblical Research, Trinity Journal, and Tyndale Bulletin.

From the publisher's description:
Much of the contemporary discussion of the Jesus tradition has focused on aspects of oral performance, story telling, and social memory, on the premise that the practice of communal reading of written texts was a phenomenon documented no earlier than the second century C.E. Brian J. Wright overturns that premise by examining evidence that demonstrates communal reading events in the first century. Wright disproves the simplistic notion that only a small segment of society in certain urban areas could have been involved in such communal reading events during the first century; rather, communal reading permeated a complex, multifaceted cultural field in which early Christians, Philo, and many others participated. His study thus pushes the academic conversation back by at least a century and raises important new questions regarding the formation of the Jesus tradition, the contours of book culture in early Christianity, and factors shaping the transmission of the text of the New Testament. These fresh insights have the potential to inform historical reconstructions of the nature of the earliest churches as well as the story of canon formation and textual transmission.
For advanced recommendations of the book, see Larry Hurtado's Forward, and then Michael Bird's review in the Euangelion blog on Patheos.

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Monday, September 11, 2017

Epistemology and Biblical Theology

In 2017, Routledge published Epistemology and Biblical Theology: From the Pentateuch to Mark's Gospel (Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biblical Criticism) by Dru Johnson. Dru Johnson is an Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at The King's College in New York City. He is currently a Templeton Research Fellow at the University of St Andrews (Logos Institute); Associate Director for the Templeton Jewish Philosophical Theology Project (Herzl Institute, Jerusalem); Series Editor for Routledge's Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biblical Criticism monograph series; and co-chair for the Hebrew Bible and Philosophy program unit in the Society of Biblical Literature.

From the publisher's description of Epistemology and Biblical Theology:
Epistemology and Biblical Theology pursues a coherent theory of knowledge as described across the Pentateuch and Mark's Gospel. As a work from the emerging field of philosophical criticism, this volume explores in each biblical text both narrative and paraenesis to assess what theory of knowledge might be presumed or advocated and the coherence of that structure across texts. In the Pentateuch and Mark, primacy is placed on heeding an authenticated and authoritative prophet, and then enacting the guidance given in order to see what is being shown in order to know. Erroneous knowing follows the same boundaries: failure to attend to the proper authoritative voice or failure to enact guidance creates mistaken understanding. With a working construct of proper knowing in hand, points of contact with and difficulties for contemporary philosophical epistemologies are suggested. In the end, Michael Polanyi's scientific epistemology emerges as the most commensurable view with knowing as it appears in these foundational biblical texts. Therefore, this book will be of interest to scholars working across the fields of Biblical studies and philosophy. Dru Johnson's other "Bible and Philosophy" books include Scripture's Knowing and Knowledge by Ritual. See also Dru's paper here at the EPS website, "A Biblical Nota Bene on Philosophical Inquiry."
Dru Johnson's other "Bible and Philosophy" books include Scripture's Knowing and Knowledge by Ritual. See also Johnson's paper here at the EPS website, "A Biblical Nota Bene on Philosophical Inquiry."

Join Dru Johnson, Oliver Crisp, Joshua Blander, and Kevin Vanhoozer for an EPS session, "Engagement with Scripture in Philosophy and Analytic Theology" at the 2017 SBL/AAR annual conference in Boston, November 19th.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

What is "Responsible Belief"?: An Interview with Rik Peels

Is it the case that what we believe and what we do not believe has a great impact on what we do and fail to do? Hence, if we want to act responsibly, we should believe responsibly? But do we have the kind of control over our beliefs that such responsibility for our beliefs seems to require? Do we have certain obligations to control or influence our beliefs on particular occasions? And do we sometimes believe responsibly despite violating such obligations, namely because we are excused by, say, indoctrination or ignorance?

We recently interviewed Rik Peels about his book Responsible Belief: A Theory in Ethics and Epistemology (Oxford University Press, 2017). Peels is an assistant professor at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, the Netherlands. His primary research interests are the ethics of belief, ignorance, scientism, and various issues in the philosophy of religion, such as whether God has a sense of humor.

What do you care most about in this important discussion about responsibility and our belief formation?
One of my main purposes in this book is to put responsibility for belief on the philosophical agenda. Ethics has paid plenty of attention to responsibility for our actions and omissions, but, clearly, we act on the basis of our beliefs. Epistemology has focused on knowledge and what is necessary for it, such as epistemic justification. Thus, the ethics of belief is a relatively neglected field. I deem it of crucial importance, though, for our beliefs are our window on the world and they thoroughly impact how we live our lives. We, therefore, need a theory of responsible belief.
What is the main argument of Responsible Belief?
I start the book with William Alston’s well-known argument against the idea that we have obligations to hold certain beliefs. I agree with him that we have obligations to hold certain beliefs only if we can control our beliefs, but that we lack such control over our beliefs. I, therefore, accept his conclusion that we do not have obligations to hold beliefs. I spell out a way to save responsibility for belief, though, by explaining how we can be derivatively responsible for our beliefs in virtue of the influence we have on them: what evidence we gather, to what extent we work on our intellectual virtues and vices, and so on, makes a difference to what we believe.
How do you develop that argument?
I develop this argument by way of three things. First, by defending the premise that we have obligations to have certain beliefs only if we can intentionally form certain beliefs (that is, if we can control them). Second, by showing what is problematic about several other attempts to meet Alston’s argument, such as so-called doxastic compatibilism, which claims that reasons-responsiveness suffices to be responsible for one’s beliefs. And, third, by developing an account in terms of the influence we have on our beliefs and what I call intellectual obligations to exercise such influence, like gathering more evidence, becoming more open-minded, and improving one’s skills in deductive reasoning.
Why do you find that argument to be compelling?
I find it compelling because it squares well both with various social practices and with our phenomenology in belief formation. It is an important practice to hold people responsible for their beliefs, such as their racist beliefs, their views on euthanasia, their political views, and their religious beliefs. But it seems we never choose to hold  those beliefs: we never decide to adopt them and we never or hardly ever choose to perform a series of actions in order to come to hold a particular belief. Rather, we talk to people, gather evidence, reflect on it, and then make up our minds. Thus, my theory of responsible belief can maintain doxastic responsibility without giving up any crucial normative principles or how we experience our own belief formation.
What are some criticisms of your argument that you find most interesting or wortwhile?
Here is one thing. In the book, I argue that people have contingent intellectual obligations, such as professional obligations the police have to investigate a murder and the obligation to find a solution for a problem if I promised you to do so. However, I also argue that all of us have non-contingent moral and epistemic obligations in virtue of being human beings. For example, if we find ourselves with two contradictory beliefs, we should try to find out which one is false (or maybe both). Some philosophers, though, such as Trent Dougherty, Pamela Hieronymi, and Sandy Goldberg, have argued that there cannot be epistemic obligations to act, since epistemic reasons count for or against propositions, statements, claims, or other things that can be true, whereas actions cannot be true or false.
What is your response to this criticism?
My response is twofold. First, it is false that epistemic reasons can only count in favor of things that are true or false. Our current epistemic reasons count in favor of suspending judgment on the proposition that the number of stars is even. But suspension of judgment is neither true nor false. Second, it seems that we can have a moral obligation to do things because of the moral consequences if we fail to do them. And we can have a professional obligation to do things because of the professional consequences if we fail carry them out. But if that is the case, then why can we not have an epistemic obligation to do something because of the epistemic consequences if we fail to do it?
How does Responsible Belief intersect with your other projects?
I currently work on three other projects that are closely related to the issues I explore in this book. I scrutinize scientism, which is basically an ethics of belief: namely the view that one should believe something only if there is sufficient scientific evidence for it [see, for instance, Jeroen de Ridder, Rik Peels, René van Woudenberg, Scientism: A Philosophical Exposition and Evaluation (Oxford University Press, 2018)]. My account renders this view problematic. I also work on ignorance and my theory of responsible belief casts light on when it is permissible to be ignorant and when it is not [see Rik Peels, Martijn Blaauw, eds., The Epistemic Dimensions of Ignorance (Cambridge University Press, 2016), and Rik Peels, Perspectives onIgnorance from Moral and Social Philosophy (Routledge, 2017). Finally, I am working on the epistemic responsibilities of the university and it seems to me that teaching responsible belief formation in an age of (alleged) fake news and widespread intellectual vices is crucial to the task of universities.
How might Responsible Belief help illuminate discussions in philosophical theology and philosophy of religion?
At least two things come to mind. It is sometimes said that it is morally wrong to believe in God or that it is epistemically irresponsible to believe the claims of the gospel. My theory of responsible belief that I defend in this book provides some of the resources to show that no moral or epistemic intellectual obligations have been violated in coming to hold these beliefs. Second, an important issue in the debate on divine hiddenness is whether there is non-culpable non-belief. My theory of responsible belief delivers important tools needed to establish whether there is indeed such a thing as non-culpable non-belief.
Learn more about Rik Peels' work by going to his Academia.edu page, and you can follow him on Twitter @RikPeels.

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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Philosophia Christi Vol. 19, No. 1 (Summer 2017)

The Summer 2017 issue of Philosophia Christi features wide-ranging discussions in epistemology, philosophy of language, philosophy of religion, ethics, philosophical theology, and apologetics including contributions from J.P. Moreland, Paul Copan, Charles Taliaferro, Walter Schultz, Michael McFall, Bradley Seeman, and many others!

Topics include:
  • whether naturalistic theories of emergence are compatible with science 
  • whether “New Wave” Kantian philosophy of religion is compatible with Kant’s Deism 
  • an assessment of the latest philosophical defenses of the sanctity of the unborn 
  • whether benevolence is insufficient for Christian love 
  • how should the conditions and tasks of apologetics be reassessed in light of various epistemological challenges. 
Among the articles, philosophical notes, or book reviews, this Summer 2017 issue also features extended interactions with the works of Charles Taylor, Brian Leftow, Stuart Kauffman, James Mumford, and Myron B. Penner.

Become a first-time member of the Evangelical Philosophical Society [includes annual subscription to Philosophia Christi] or a journal-only subscriber!

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Saturday, May 20, 2017

Koons and Pickavance on a Comprehensive Guide to Metaphysics

In 2017, Wiley-Blackwell published The Atlas of Reality: A Comprehensive Guide to Metaphysics by Robert C. Koons and Timothy Pickavance. Koons is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Pickavance an Associate Professor and Chair of the Talbot Department of Philosophy at Biola University.

From the publisher's description:
The Atlas of Reality: A Comprehensive Guide to Metaphysics presents an extensive examination of the key concepts, principles, and arguments of metaphysics, traditionally the very core of philosophical thought. Representing the first exhaustive survey of metaphysics available, the book draws from historic sources while presenting the latest cutting-edge research in the field. Seminal works of philosophers such as David Lewis, Alvin Plantinga, Kit Fine, Peter van Inwagen, John Hawthorne and many others are covered in depth, without neglecting the critical contributions of historical figures like René Descartes, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Bertrand Russell, and more.
  • It represents the most comprehensive guide to metaphysics available today 
  • It offers authoritative coverage of the full range of topics that comprise the field of metaphysics in an accessible manner while considering competing views 
  • It explores key concepts such as space, time, powers, universals, and composition with clarity and depth 
  • It articulates coherent packages of metaphysical theses that include neo-Aristotelian, Quinean, Armstrongian, and neo-Humean 
  • It carefully tracks the use of common assumptions and methodological principles in metaphysics

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