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Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century

Eric O. Springsted read

This in-depth study examines the social, religious, and philosophical thought of Simone Weil.

Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century presents a comprehensive analysis of Weil’s interdisciplinary thought, focusing especially on the depth of its challenge to contemporary philosophical and religious studies. In a world where little is seen to have real meaning, Eric O. Springsted presents a critique of the unfocused nature of postmodern philosophy and argues that Weil’s thought is more significant than ever in showing how the world in which we live is, in fact, a world of mysteries. Springsted brings into focus the challenges of Weil’s original (and sometimes surprising) starting points, such as an Augustinian priority of goodness and love over being and intellect, and the importance of the Crucifixion. Springsted demonstrates how the mystical and spiritual aspects of Weil’s writings influence her social thought. For Weil, social and political questions cannot be separated from the supernatural. For her, rather, the world has a sacramental quality, such that life in the world is always a matter of life in God―and life in God, necessarily a way of life in the world.

Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century is not simply a guide or introduction to Simone Weil. Rather, it is above all an argument for the importance of Weil’s thought in the contemporary world, showing how she helps us to understand the nature of our belonging to God (sometimes in very strange and unexpected ways), the importance of attention and love as the root of both the love of God and neighbor, the importance of being rooted in culture (and culture’s service to the soul in rooting it in the universe), and the need for human beings to understand themselves as communal beings, not as isolated thinkers or willers. It will be essential reading for scholars of Weil, and will also be of interest to philosophers and theologians.

Eric O. Springsted is the co-founder of the American Weil Society and served as its president for thirty-three years. After a career as a teacher, scholar, and pastor, he is retired and lives in Santa Fe, NM. He is the author and editor of a dozen previous books, including Simone Weil: Late Philosophical Writings (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015).

University of Notre Dame Press, 2021

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Faith Envy: Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, and Weil on Desirable Faith

Hermen Kroesbergen read

From time to time, both believers and nonbelievers envy those with more faith. In this book, Hermen Kroesbergen coins the concept of faith envy as an angle to investigate faith and religious language and provide a new direction for the philosophy of religion. For far too long, the philosophy of religion has focused on statements of faith concerning superempirical powers, forgetting that if they would ever be able to prove these statements, they cease to be religious. Kroesbergen explores the possibility of using the angle of faith envy for a much-needed alternative approach, using the philosophers Søren Kierkegaard, Ludwig Wittgenstein, and Simone Weil as guides. Their lives and works have often been studied for what they have to say about religious beliefs; here, however, the focus is on what they have to say about the faith they envy. Our own faith envy, and Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, and Weil’s struggle to make sense of it provides a deeper insight into what faith is and could be. This book is a timely and provocative intervention in a philosophy of religion that has reached a dead end, and a society that is deeply troubled about faith but envies it nonetheless.

Fortress Academic, July 15, 2021

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The Gospel According to Hermes: Intimations of Christianity in Greek Myth, Poetry & Philosophy

Ron Samuel Dart, Bradley Jersak, Simon Oliver, Lazar Puhalo, & Wm. Paul Young, read

Tertullian famously asked, “What hath Athens to do with Jerusalem?” Perhaps the title of this work will raise the question, “What hath Hermes to do with Christ?” Quite a lot, as it turns out, by way of comparison, contrast, illustration, and prefigurement. Hermes, herein, represents far more than a particular figure in Greek mythology. Hermes functions as a placeholder, symbolizing the legacy of ancient Greek myth, poetry, and philosophy—and also the layered hermeneutics that classical Greek education contributed to both Jewish and Christian interpretations of the Scriptures, and the development of their theology, doctrine, and ethics. Despite the unfortunate but popular assumption of a Jewish-Greek dualism among many scholars since Adolf von Harnack, the stubborn and happy fact is that the New Testament itself already demonstrates a profound integration of the Hellenized Judaism established in Alexandria. The first Christian theologians were not contaminating some imaginary pure Jewish Christianity with Greek accretions. Rather, our authors will propose and demonstrate the confluence of both great streams in the development of the New Testament Scriptures, patristic theology, and hermeneutics. This collection of essays is but a faint echo of Simone Weil’s formidable work, Intimations of Christianity Among the Ancient Greeks, and is certainly inspired by her insights. Our authors will propose and demonstrate the confluence of both great streams in the development of the New Testament Scriptures, patristic theology, and hermeneutics. This collection of essays is but a faint echo of Simone Weil’s formidable work, Intimations of Christianity Among the Ancient Greeks, and is certainly inspired by her insights.

Written

Iris Murdoch and the Others: A Writer in Dialogue with Theology

Paul S. Fiddes read

The “others” examined by Fiddes are mainly those with whom Murdoch entered into explicit dialogue in her novels and philosophical writing-including Immanuel Kant, Simone Weil, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Rudolph Bultmann, Paul Tillich, Don Cupitt, Donald Mackinnon, and Jacques Derrida. This “historic” dialogue is, however, placed within a wider dialogue between literature and theology being conducted by the author, and “others” are brought into relation with Murdoch in order to illuminate this more extensive conversation-notably the poet Gerard Manley Hopkins and the feminist philosopher Julia Kristeva.

The book demonstrates that characteristic themes in Murdoch’s novels and philosophy-the love of the Good, the death of the ego, illusory consolations, the death of God, the modifying of the will by “waiting”, the sublime and the beautiful, and attention to other things and persons-all take on a greater meaning when placed in the context of her life-long conversation with theology. The exploration of this context is deepened in this volume by reference to annotations and notes that Murdoch made in a number of theological books in her personal library.

Paul S. Fiddes is Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Oxford and is Director of Research at Regent’s Park College, Oxford, UK.
Publisher: ‏ T&T Clark (December 2, 2021)
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Homer: The Very Idea

James L. Porter read

Homer, the great poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey, is revered as a cultural icon of antiquity and a figure of lasting influence. But his identity is shrouded in questions about who he was, when he lived, and whether he was an actual person, a myth, or merely a shared idea. Rather than attempting to solve the mystery of this character, James I. Porter explores the sources of Homer’s mystique and their impact since the first recorded mentions of Homer in ancient Greece.

Homer: The Very Idea considers Homer not as a man, but as a cultural invention nearly as distinctive and important as the poems attributed to him, following the cultural history of an idea and of the obsession that is reborn every time Homer is imagined. Offering novel readings of texts and objects, the book follows the very idea of Homer from his earliest mentions to his most recent imaginings in literature, criticism, philosophy, visual art, and classical archaeology.

University of Chicago Press, October 25, 2021