Monday, April 27, 2009

David Bradshaw for Beginners

Those of you who keep up with academic publications relevant to the study of Orthodox theology will certainly have heard of a volume entitled Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom by David Bradshaw, Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Kentucky. Widely hailed upon its release five years ago, it has since become the standard text on the use of Aristotle in the theological traditions of both East and West specifically, and on the philosophical divergences between Eastern and Western Christendom more generally. I'm guessing that fewer of you have actually obtained and read a copy, either because you were put off by the price of the hardcover edition (there is now a paperback version that is priced a bit more reasonably), or because you were a bit intimidated by the content. I have found the ideal solution for those who know that they should become acquainted with Dr Bradshaw's work but haven't yet read his book. Dr Bradshaw has generously posted six of his papers (as Word documents) on his homepage. The first paper in particular, "The Concept of the Divine Energies," is a something of a summary of the main ideas of his book. The truly lazy (of whom I am the first, of course) can even watch a video of Dr Bradshaw delivering that paper here (part two is here). You can also preview his book on Google Reader. Happy reading!

Illustration: Plato, Seneca, and Aristotle, medieval manuscript.

10 comments:

aaronandbrighid said...

Thank you for pointing these things out, Father. Don't forget that some of us are also 'truly busy', though of course we occasionally use this as an excuse to cover up our laziness!

I saw Bradshaw give a paper on St John Chrysostom at a conference in Missouri last year. I was quite impressed.

Felix Culpa said...

Truly busy? Surely you jest!

Just for the record, in case anyone is wondering, David Bradshaw is an Orthodox Christian. He and his wife and daughter attend St Athanasius Orthodox Church in Nicholsville, KT.

Death Bredon said...

Dr. Bradshaw's webpage contains some wonderful, short papers written for those without a Ph.D. in Philosophy or Religion.

His book is thick reading -- the intended audience is professional philosophers and theologians -- but, if you can manage it, it is well worth the effort.

Finally, Dr. Bradshaw recently published an excellent article in St. Valdimir's Journal about St. Paul's use of the term "energia" and cognates in his epistles. Extremely enlightening and demonstrative of a common major flaw in English translations of the NT.

Edward Wolff said...

Thank you, Father. Would you also recommend Eric D. Perl from Loyola Marymount University, who wrote Theophany: The Neoplatonic Philosophy of Dionysius the Areopagite? And what about Paul Gravilyuk and his The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought?

Felix Culpa said...

I have to admit that I've read neither, so the best I could do is comment on their Amazon descriptions -- which would be dangerous.

The most practical introduction I've read to the thought of the Areopagite is Paul Rorem, "Pseudo-Dionysius: A Commentary on the Texts and an Introduction to Their Influence." It's a very god place to begin. For an Orthodox perspective, see Fr Alexander Golitzin, "Et Introibo Ad Altare Dei: The Mystagogy of Dionysius Areopagita, with Special Reference to Its Predecessors in the Eastern Christian Tradition." Fr Andrew Louth's "Denys the Areopagite" is good but brief.

Death Bredon said...

Also second hand, but Andrew Louth's work on Denys comes with high praise -- as do most all of his works.

Edward Wolff said...

Thank you, Father. I have added them in my wish list, although Golitzin´s is currently unavailable.

By the way, what is your opinion on James Cutsinger´s interpretation of the Holy Trinity? He, as most of his perennialist peers, seems to apply into it a Neoplatonic stance.

Felix Culpa said...

Once again I have to plead ignorance. I did, however, do a web search on Dr Cutsinger, and based on what I found I'd advise approaching any of his works with *extreme* caution.

Edward Wolff said...

Thank you again, Father.

Alice Linsley said...

Dr. Bradshaw spoke to my Philosophy students recently and they learned so much about the use of the term energeia (first employed by Aristotle). He is a gifted teacher, a humble man and a brilliant intellect.