"Given the scope of its references and sheer intellectual flair, I can think of no more brilliant work by an American theologian in the past ten years. The three most important influences on Hart are John Milbank, Gregory of Nyssa, and Hans Urs von Balthasar,"---Christian Century. 462 pages, softcover. Eerdmans.
The Beauty of the Infinite is a splendid extended essay in "theological aesthetics." David Bentley Hart here meditates on the power of a Christian understanding of beauty and sublimity to rise above the violence -- both philosophical and literal -- characteristic of the postmodern world.
The book begins by tracing the shifting use and nature of metaphysics in the thought of Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Heidegger, Lyotard, Derrida, Deleuze, Nancy, Levinas, and others. Hart pays special attention to Nietzsche's famous narrative of the "will to power" -- a narrative largely adopted by the world today -- and he offers an engaging revision (though not rejection) of the genealogy of nihilism, thereby highlighting the significant "interruption" that Christian thought introduced into the history of metaphysics.
This discussion sets the stage for a retrieval of the classic Christian account of beauty and sublimity, and of the relation of both to the question of being. Written in the form of a dogmatica minora, this main section of the book offers a pointed reading of the Christian story in four moments, or parts: Trinity, creation, salvation, and eschaton. Through a combination of narrative and argument throughout, Hart ends up demonstrating the power of Christian metaphysics not only to withstand the critiques of modern and postmodern thought but also to move well beyond them.
Strikingly original and deeply rewarding, The Beauty of the Infinite is both a constructively critical account of the history of metaphysics and a compelling contribution to it.
David Bentley Hart is a philosopher, theologian, writer, and cultural commentator who has taught at the University of Virginia, Duke University, and Providence College.
"David Bentley Hart has written one of the most thrilling works of Christian reflection to come along in years. . . This is theology as high adventure, and the excitement continues after the last page is turned."
William C. Placher in The Christian Century
"I can think of no more brilliant work by an American theologian in the past ten years."
R. R. Reno
"An elegant, erudite treatment of basic themes in Christian theology, metaphysics, and contemporary cultural criticism. David Bentley Hart has written a book that is both radical and orthodox. The Beauty of the Infinite sets the standard for postmodern theology."
Paul J. Griffiths
"David Bentley Hart's book shows great patristic and philosophical learning. That is rare enough. Still more rare is the book's compellingly complete theology of beauty. Hart shows that the sublime aesthetic of the market -- this age's chief principality -- can be disrupted by (and perhaps only by) the gospel's radiant beauty. This book makes a major contribution to bringing that disruption about."
"Drawing from deep Eastern Orthodox wells, The Beauty of the Infinite achieves an extraordinary theological analysis and transformation of the postmodern condition. A work of breathtaking scope, David Bentley Hart's book combines an impressive mastery of the Christian theological tradition, East and West, with a subtle yet rigorous critique of the philosophical zeitgeist, culminating in a constructive systematic theology of stunning scope. By way of a trinitarian theology of beauty, Hart succeeds in composing a dogmatica minora that radically revises the metaphysical horizon of postmodernity. This book is Christian theology and metaphysics of a high order, an extremely rewarding tour de force."
R. Trent Pomplun
"David Bentley Hart -- like Soloviev and Florensky before him -- stands in the finest tradition of virile Eastern alternatives to modern Western philosophy and theology. A startling rejoinder to modernity and postmodernity alike, Hart's book will be judged by future historians as a fresh start for Orthodox theology done in the United States."
Geoffrey Wainwright in First Things
"A remarkable work. . . This magnificent and demanding volume should establish David Bentley Hart, around the world no less than in North America, as one of his generation's leading theologians."
"David Hart is already the best living American systematic theologian. The Beauty of the Infinite is his first major work."
Janet Martin Soskice in Times Literary Supplement
"A splendid book. . . Hart's prose is trenchant but often beautiful. There are penetrating, and frequently amusing, critiques of Foucault, Bultmann, and Deleuze, among others. . . The Beauty of the Infinite shows the vigor and power of theology, ancient and modern."
Nova et Vetera
"Despite the relative youth of its author, The Beauty of the Infinite merits consideration as one of the most ambitious and theologically insightful contributions to the field in the past decade. David Hart's fluid prose, sweeping grasp of theology and continental philosophy, and creativity enables him to ferry the reader from eastern patristic theology to French postmodernism, from Greek Attic tragedy to Nietzsche and Heidegger. His work deserves a careful reading by all serious students of theology."
The Journal of Religion
"On every page of The Beauty of the Infinite are provocative and original readings. Hart debunks many unexamined pieties nascent in the postmodern idiom and, at the same time, displays his own genius for rhetorical invention. Hyperarticulate and a great phrasemaker, Hart will please the logophile as well as the philologist; his erudition . . . and his eloquence . .
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