Autor: David A Höhne
Localitate: Farnham & Burlington
Editura: Ashgate Publishing Ltd.
Anul apariţiei: 2010
Nr. de pagini: 185
Preț: de la 76 $
Recenzie de Alexandru Nădăban
Reading the book I had several questions in my mind. One of them was: „Can a Ph.D. of a highly specialized theological subject become a book so tempting that you want to buy it and read it?” Strictly speaking the book is about the work of the Holy Spirit enabling, opening and preserving the Sonship of Jesus Christ the Messiah. But I dare say that apart from some small technicalities left over by the Ph.D. supervisor (i.e. engaging with primary sources of ancient writers through secondary ones and using Basil’s Latin version of De Spiritu Sancto in the footnotes while using its French translation in the bibliography) David Höhne sets out to demonstrate that.
At the first glance the book seems to illustrate a typical case of writing a boring book to demonstrate that the author is both right in what he affirms and in what he concludes, or being a little bit politically correct in what she concludes. In doing that he/she is logically achieving five steps: 1. establishing an exegetical description, 2. establishing a theological alternative, 3. the Spirit enabling Sonship, 4. the spirit opens Sonship, 5. the Spirit preserves Sonship and of course conclusion. So, apart from the introduction where he sets the goal, and the conclusion where he confirms the development of the plot, confirming the introductory theory, Höhne does justice to the subject. However, if we regard the book as just a(nother) ”theological description of human personhood grounded in a sustained engagement with, and critique of, Gunton’s theological description of particularity” we would lose more than we got.
His initial brilliant idea, that Colin Gunton’s theology of particularity and the Holy Spirit should engage Dietrich Bonhoeffer in a conversation might look odd for some traditional thinkers. At first glance one can not find many common points between Gunton and Bonhoeffer. We are used to judge an old author by a more recent one, closer to our way of thinking, one of our contemporaries being critical about someone who died and can not defend him/herself. But that would be the easier way, wouldn’t it? However, Höhne is not doing that. On the contrary it is the other way round. He is engaging Bonhoeffer to support or complete Gunton, not so much to criticize him and to prove his point.
From a cold, reasonable and technical point of view, the book seems just a conversation. But to me it looks more like revealing an alchemist’s efforts to find gold. Höhne is precise, thoughtful, logic and diligent. I would say even more. Alchemists were lonely specialist looking for something which is rare, precious and difficult to obtain. To describe his endeavor as only a conversation, even between two well known theologians of the XXth century, it would neither do justice to the author, or to his subject. I would say we truly witness a hall where the author (and each of us, as readers) are engaging in five different ballet style dances (the five chapters), with two partners, Gunton and Bonhoeffer. Apart from them, other dancers of the ensemble, Aristotle and Augustine, Basil of Caesarea and Luther, Irving and Heidegger, Kant and Kierkegaard are worth taking into account, at least for setting up the scene. Gunton and Bonhoeffer are famous enough for us to join the ballet and try to keep on with their efforts. Höhne makes good use of the two, sweeping the floor: grace, church and sacraments are among the fine figures set up as cure for displacement and disengagement and to prove his point.
Even if the most important issue to be addressed is Gunton’s theological description of particularity where personhood seems to play a very significant role, there are other issues tempting someone to read the book. Among these, the issues of displacement and disengagement are of great importance in the present western social context. So the music to which we dance is coming from above (sonship, Messiah, Jesus Christ etc.), but the ballet atmosphere spreads in the church, even further, on the streets and can cause in every Christian that kind of catharsis which makes everyone identify with the Son through the Holy Spirit. Because of that Christians would be able to enjoy a special status, even when they suffer, lose possessions, stop oppressing their neighbors and help other realize who they are, and why.
But not only partners are important. It is music as well. As the music makes the dance, so to say, we realize that apart from the sound music of the exegesis, there is more than one style and more than one band: modernity and post modernity accompany us while we progress from the first to the last. I have to confess that I have found a little bit peculiar that Höhne gives (too much) authority to Webster and Jans, as though two conductors are leading the same band. It is obvious that dancers will have to move accordingly, but let’s not forget Höhne is still supervising the ballet and he is critical about them too.
So, just as the curtain might fall over this well written book, it has to be mentioned that while it is not unusual to write precise theology, it is quite unusual to write beautiful theology. This ballet, the dances and the dancers, the music and the conductors, the audience and the instruments are all engaged to set up a beautiful performance. Job done.