Tag Archives: Philosophy of Religion

The Philosophy of the Hebrew Bible

I no longer find myself sitting in the bright, sunny, and (awfully) hot Mediterranean climate of Pasadena, rather I find myself sitting in the bright, sunny, and (awfully) hot Mediterranean climate of Jerusalem. So why am I here? To engage with a similar sort of project that the AT project is engaged with at Fuller Seminary; I am here to think through the relationship between Scripture, analytic philosophy, and the life of faith.

Jerusalem

On June 12th-23rd a group of Christian and Jewish scholars whose expertise range from biblical studies, to political philosophy, to analytic theology gathered to discuss Yoram Hazony’s book, The Philosophy of Hebrew Scripture.

In this book Hazony contends that western culture has made a major mistake in not seeing the Hebrew Bible as a significant philosophical work. Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s Metaphysics, and Plotinus’s Enneads are all part of the Western philosophical cannon, but why isn’t the Hebrew bible? Hazony argues the reason this is so is because the Hebrew Bible has been deemed a “work of revelation” as opposed to a “work of reason.”

 

YSSAccording to Hazony the texts of the Hebrew Scriptures are “in fact closer to being works of reason than anything else.” (Hazony, 3) He laments the fact that Western culture, due to Christian influence, has read the reason-revelation-dichotomy into the Hebrew scriptures. This dichotomy, in turn, has affected the standing of Hebrew Scriptures within public spheres. By turning back to conceiving the Hebrew Scriptures as a work of reason, Hazony hopes to restore its standing in public dialogue. Not only does Hazony argue that the Hebrew Scriptures are works of reason, rather he argues that “Hebrew Scriptures can (and should) be read as works of philosophy, with an aim to discovering what they have to say to the broader discourse concerning the nature of the world and the just life for man.” (4)

Hazony’s attempt at constructing a philosophy of Hebrew Scriptures has two major parts, which respectively, make up the structure of his work as an introduction to the philosophy of Hebrew Scripture. First, Hazony provides a methodological framework by which we can begin to read the Hebrew Scriptures as works of philosophy. He then proceeds to provide some examples of how the authors of scripture were engaging philosophical discourse. This latter part addresses topics like metaphysics, epistemology, and political philosophy. In addressing such topics, he provides plenty of fodder for further reflection by philosophers and analytic theologians.

Dome of the Rock

Over the next few days I hope to write a bit more about the sort of project Hazony is engaged in, so you can expect a few blogs either on the ideas in the book, or ideas that have come out of this workshop and the conference following the workshop.

Some Reflections on “Divine Impassibility and the Uninfluenced Love of God”

On Wednesday March 8th the Analytic Theology Seminar had the pleasure of hosting Ryan Mullins, the Director of Communications and Research Fellow at the Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology at the University of St. Andrews. Mullins endured an unbearably long flight across the pond, yet he managed to deliver a stimulating paperfb_img_1483804409430-169x300 that generated much discussion during the second portion of our seminar. In his paper, titled, “Divine Impassibility and the Uninfluenced Love of God,” Mullins made a case for a passible God. He argued that even while granting impassibilists their favored definition of love as benevolence + union, this definition pushes the impassibilist towards a passibilist God. In order to make a case for this thesis he engaged in several moves.

The first move he made was to articulate the doctrine of divine impassibility in a charitable manner. He noted that there are three common themes that make up the core of this doctrine: 1) God cannot suffer, 2) God cannot be moved, nor acted upon, by anything ad extra to the divine nature, and 3) God lacks passions. This last core component of the doctrine draws most of Mullins’s attention. He was primarily concerned with how impassibilists treat “love.” William Shedd, for instance, concludes that God lacks passions, yet God has the emotion of love. Mullins then made his way through various historical examples to explain how impassibilists attempted to attribute love to an impassible God. His survey of how this has been done historically lead him to modify the third core theme of the doctrine to “it is metaphysically impossible for God to have an emotion that is irrational, immoral, or that disrupts His perfect happiness.”

You can read the rest of the blog over at Fuller’s Analytic Theology Webpage.

Love: Creaturely and Divine

On the fifth week of the AT Seminar Series Sameer Yadav, Assistant Professor of Religious

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Sameer Yadav

Studies at Westmont University, delivered a paper titled “Love: Creaturely and Divine.” In his paper Yadav dealt with Schellenberg’s divine hiddenness argument by providing what could be called a “Plantingian Divine Imaging Defense.”

An Overview of “Love: Creaturely and Divine”

Although not new, the problem of Divine Hiddenness (DH) became the subject of extensive philosophical discussion when J.L. Schellenberg published his book, Divine Hiddenness and Human Reason, in 1993. Schellenberg and others who put forth this argument appeal to existence of non-resistant non-believers as evidence for the non-existence of a perfectly loving God. We can summarize the main idea of DH as:

If God is perfectly Loving, then non-resistant non-belief does not exist. But it seems as though non-resistant non-belief does exist. Therefore, a perfectly loving God does not exist.

You can read the rest of this post over at Fuller Seminary’s Analytic Theology Blog.

The Herzl Institute – Young Scholars Workshop

Today I got word that I was accepted to be a participant at the Herzel Institute (Jerusalem) Young Scholar’s Workshop and Conference on Revelation at Mt. Sinai:

It is with great pleasure that I am writing to inform you that we are able to offer you a place at our Young Scholars Workshop which will take place in Jerusalem on June 12-22, 2017. The workshop will involve a week of classroom seminars and discussions, visits to key sites in Jerusalem, as well as an international conference at which leading scholars in Jewish Philosophical Theology from around the world will present. Our program includes lunches and informal meetings, and plenty of time to engage others in conversation.

During the workshop, participants will present a 15-20 minute symposium paper in response to reading materials that will be sent out prior to the workshop. The paper will be presented in a classroom seminar for discussion by workshop participants and scholars.

We will be discussing topics such as: “The Bible as Philosophy?” “The Metaphysics of Hebrew Scripture”; “Is the Biblical God Perfect Being?”; “What Does It Mean for God to Speak?”; “Bible as a Tradition of Inquiry”; “Approaching God Through Metaphor”; “God’s Plans, Failures and Alliances”; “Should God Be Our King?”; “Discovering a Name of God”; “Who Makes Things Happen in the Bible?”

I would never have imagined I would be going to Israel for a theological conference, let alone have the expenses covered by a scholarship. This is such an amazing opportunity. If you are wondering what the Herzl Institute is, here is some info:

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The Herzl Institute will serve as a hub of collaboration, research and joint learning for Jewish scholars, clergy, lay leadership and students who seek better answers to the challenges ahead through a more rigorous engagement with the riches of Hebrew Scripture and rabbinic sources.

The Herzl Institute welcomes the participation of Christian and other non-Jewish scholars and students who see the sources of Judaism as offering an opportunity for foundational renewal within the context of their own nations and faith traditions. The Herzl Institute will conduct an array of intensive outreach activities, including public events, publications, and new media platforms aimed at bringing the fruits of its work to a broad public in Israel and abroad.

Love, Obedience and Moral Obligation: Reflections on Scotus

Last week at 2016 Analytic Theology Seminar Series at Fuller Seminary Thomas Ward presented a paper on love for God in Duns Scotus’ works. For interaction with this paper

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Tom Ward is Assistant Professor and Graduate Director of Philosophy at Loyola Marymount University (CA)

see a forthcoming blog post by JT Turner on Fuller’s Analytic Theology Blog. In the meantime here are some notes on Thomas Ward’s Lecture.

 

Love, Obedience and Moral Obligation: Reflections on Scotus

1.Contesting Voluntarism

  • Scotus – Divine Command is not the source of our obligation to Love God above all things. Love of God entails an obligation to obey his commands.
    • This might not be a actually a divine command theory
  • Scotus – so widely believed to be DCT & V
    • Scotus’s views do not comfortably bear these labels
  • Quinn: V – thesis that morality depends on the will of God
  • Murphy some moral status M stands in dependence relationship D to some act of the divine will A
  • If this is true – Scotus is not V – some moral obligations that don’t dpend on God’s will, i.e. the moral obligation to love God.
  • Scotus & Ockham were more liberal about what they thought it was logically possible to do.
  • According to Kent he is V, Williams he is not, Under Quinn & Murphy he is not, According to Evans he is not either.
  1. A Mitigation Interpretation
  • A mitigating interpretation – giving reasons why God legislated what he did, etc.
  • Thomas William’s unmitigated – God can do whatever is logically possible
  • Scotus – there are necessary moral truths over which God has no control:
    • Necessary moral truths – are logically necessary
    • This affects how we should think of the claim that God can do logically possible for God to do (as opposed to logically possible simpliciter)
  • Scotus – God must be loved
    • This is independent of the command to love him
    • From this obligation to love God, we can derive an obligation to obey God’s commands

3.Scotus on the Natural Law

  • If its part of natural law: first practical principles known in virtue of their terms or as conclusions that necessarily follow from them. If some precept p is part of the natural law then p is necessary in a very strong sense: God cannot make P false
  • Loose sense natural law – not entailed by but highly consonant with natural laws
  • He thinks some of the 10 commandments are part of natural law – the first table belong to the natural law in the strict sense, the second table belongs to the natural law in the loose sense
  • Augustine – we love our neighbor for God’s sake. Scotus might be seen as continuing the Augustinian intstrumentalization of the great commandments.
  • Second Table – If that good were not commanded, the ultimate end could still be attained and loved (beatific vision), the attainment of the ultimate end would still be possible.
    • Second table conformity is at best contingent upon achieving the ultimate end
    • Second table is contingent in the fact that God could have put forth other commands or none at all
  • First table commands describe precisely what natural law requires

4.The logical necessity of the practical necessity that God must be loved

  • Deus est diligendus… is a practical truth preceeding any act of the divine will
  • Conclusion: Scotus thinks that God’s doing or willing anything in any way contrary to Deus est diligendus “includes a contradiction” and is therefore impossible.

5.Logical Modalities a la Scotus

  • Real possibility: something is really possible if there is a power to bring it about
  • Logical Impossibility: defined in Scotus’s terms as a certain way in which terms cannot be combined by the mind because of the relationship of terms in a proposition, namely that they are opposed to one another
  • Logical Necessity IFF its contrary (or subcontrary) and contradictory are logically impossible.
  • God must be loved is necessary in this sense.

6.God must be loved

  • A logically necessary practical necessity
  • What should be loved the most is the best – so God should be loved the most
  • If we grasp the meanings of these terms we just “see” that God should be loved the most
  • There is a normative connection between love and the good
  • God has not choice but to be the highest God, thus he has no choice to be the object of greatest love

7.Logically Possible for Whom?

  • Its logically possible to hate God, but God can do anything which does not entail a contradiction, God should be able to hate himself. Why not?
    • A command to hate or to fail to love God is prima faciaie logically possible
  • Needs to be qualified: Humans, robots, elepthans can kick a soccer ball but pens and parameciums can’t. So do determine logical possibility we need to consider the PHI-ing in relation to the x.
  • Hating God is logically possible for humans and angels, but for God it is logically impossible.
  • The terms God & failing to love God are opposed to eachother.
  • God’s power means – God can do whatever is logically possible for God to do

8.God must love God

  • His radical voluntarism is more moderate if understood as “God can do whatever is logically possible for God to do.” Vs. “God can do whatever is logically possible.”
  • God by nature has intellect and will & is therefore capable of happiness + God has no potentiality, so he is happy. Only by knowing God can a person be happy. So God loves God.

9.God can’t command you to hate God

  • Also God cannot dispense anyone from their obligation to love God.
  • Where God to issue a command – never love me
    • Either it would generate a moral obligation or it wouldn’t
    • JERK MOVE
      • If so, he would have a moral obligation to love him and NOT love him. This would be an command in which one would be determined to fail
        • This is a jerk move, so God cannot possibily will to obligate some never to live him
      • OR… FRUSTRATION MOVE
        • God would be frustrated in his legislative obligation
        • But God cannot be frustrated: he gets what he wants
      • So He could not possibly issue a command which could not generate a moral obligation
  1. From Love to Obedience
  • Loving God, is “to repeat in our wills… God’s will for our willing. But willing what God wills for our willing is obedience. So it is necessarily true not just that God is to be loved, but that God is to be obeyed.”
  • One of the problem of DCT – is that they can’t show there are obligations to obey the command
    • What we need then is some other obligation to obey divine commands
    • We are required to love God, but not simply because it is commanded, but because it is logically necessary.
    • We have this moral obligation that does not depend on God’s will, because it is logically necessary that we love God.
  • This helps w/certain objections to DCT
    • God could command horrendous things
    • DCT is circular

Analytic Theology Seminars at Fuller Seminary Start Today!

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See the message below from Allison Wiltshire

Hello!

I would like to invite you to join us at Fuller Seminary for a weekly series of talks on human and divine love as part of the Analytic Theology for Theological Formation project.  Our team would be thrilled for you to attend any or all of the events. Feel free to pass along this information to your students or colleagues who may also be interested.
Attached you will find a schedule for the entire series that run January-June as well as a more detailed advertisement for the first 7 events. The first event is tomorrow, January 4, from 3-5pm in the faculty commons at the David Allen Hubbard Library on Fuller’s campus. Dr. Oliver Crisp will open up the series by giving an introduction to analytic theology.
For more information you can visit our website, facebook, or twitter. Feel free to contact me with any questions!
Best,
Allison Wiltshire


Allison Wiltshire 
Fuller Theological Seminary
Research Administrator AT project