Item description for Systematic Theology: Volume 2: The Works of God by Robert W. Jenson...
Overview Systematic Theology is the capstone of Robert Jenson's long and sitinguished career as a theologian, being a full-scale systematic/dogmatic theology in the classic format. This is the second and concluding volume of the work, and considers the works of God, examining such topics as the nature and role of the Church, and God's works of creation.
Publishers Description Systematic Theology is the capstone of Robert Jenson's long and distinguished career as a theologian, being a full-scale systematic/dogmatic theology in the classic format. This is the second and concluding volume of the work. Here, Jenson considers the works of God, examining such topics as the nature and role of the Church, and God's works of creation.
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Studio: Oxford University Press, USA
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9.27" Width: 6.3" Height: 1.21" Weight: 1.54 lbs.
Release Date Dec 19, 1999
Publisher Oxford University Press
ISBN 019508649X ISBN13 9780195086492
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More About Robert W. Jenson
Robert W. Jenson is an American Lutheran systematic theologian and Professor Emeritus of Religion at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Currently he is a professor of religion at the Center for Theological Inquiry at Princeton Theological Seminary.
Jenson attended Luther College and Luther Seminary. Between his years as a college student and a seminarian, he studied philosophy in Paris as a Fulbright scholar. At Luther Seminary Jenson was assistant to the famous Orthodox Lutheran theologian, Herman Preus. Preus infused with Jenson a strong belief in Orthodox Lutheran understanding of predestination. Against the majority of the staff at Luther Seminary at that time, who believed that God merely foreknew who would have faith and who not, Preus held that God had decreed the salvation of a definite number of the elect, without a decree of reprobation.
Later Jenson went to Heidelberg where he became familiar with the theology of Karl Barth, and, under the supervision of Peter Brunner, he wrote his doctoral dissertation on Barth's doctrine of election. Jenson then began teaching at Luther College, where he continued to study Barth and also became increasingly interested in the philosophy of Hegel. The staff of the Religion Department at Luther College grew impatient with his teaching and charged him with teaching heresy. They threatened to resign if Jenson was not fired, but the college's president supported Jenson, and several professors subsequently left the college.
Throughout this period he became increasingly interested in ecumenical theology, and in the 1980s and 1990s his theology moved in a progressively Catholic and ecumenical direction. With Braaten he founded the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Theology. The Centre publishes the journal Pro Ecclesia, and it has produced several books on ecumenical theology.
Robert W. Jenson currently resides in Princeton, in the state of New Jersey. Robert W. Jenson has an academic affiliation as follows - Princeton University.
Robert W. Jenson has published or released items in the following series...
Interpretation: A Bible Commentary for Teaching & Preaching
Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church
Reviews - What do customers think about Systematic Theology: Volume 2: The Works of God?
A Stimulating Read Jan 25, 2006
This is absolutely one of the best systematic theologies out there. Like Halden mentions below, this book (both volumes in fact) are useful in concert with Colin Gunton and Wolfhart Pannenberg, and to various extents Kevin Vanhoozer, especially in his notions of the dramatis personae of God's activity with us in history, His "dramatic coherence," (and in this respect, would be a good read alongside von Balthazar)
Jenson begins his prolegomena by outlining what he sees as a deficiency in traditional prolegomenal issues that see Christian thought as an inherently problematic enterprise that must be validated antecedently by "more secure" foundations (e.g. the processes of neo-protestantism bred by Schliermachers defintion of religion as a feeling of absolute dependece, or the so called "greek proof," where much of Christian thinking has been based on supposedly rational inquiry of the Greek period, which Jenson notes, is no more universal than the historically situated expressions in the Bible.) Rather, with Pannenberg, Plantinga, and others (even Heidegger!), Jenson understands that if true, the Bible knows God, the one basic "fact" of all reality, and so theology must be either a foundational discipline or an illusion.
That said, the entire program of this book is based on overcoming basic theological notions that seem to have been held out from Greek antiquity, especially static unterstandings of God's immutability and eternity. Rather, Jenson's emphasis is on an active and living God (thought one should not misread Jenson as a panentheist or process philosopher)
Other examples include Jenson's reorientation of our notions of infinity. Much like Pannenbergs adoption of the Hegelian postulation for the "true infinite," Jenson shies away from traditional understandings (based on a large part on the aristotelian and platonic leanings of Thomist and post-Thomist scholasticism) of God's infinity as lacking all boundaries. Rather, along with Gregory of Nyssa (and Duns Scotus, among others) God is infinite not because He lacks boundaries, but because He overcomes all boundaries.
This leads the way for Jenson's concept of eternity as an embrace of time, in such a way that we are led from a strictly linear conception (such as Aristotle's conception of eternity as an endless line stretching past and future) or as a static timelessness (like Plato and Aristotle's eternity proper, adopted in large part by Augustine) Rather, God is eternal because He is unbounded by past events, nor is He limited by future occurance, rather He (specifically the Holy Spirit) is the Future in that He unrestrictedly anticipates His ends and means. In this sense we see that Eternity is a derivative of Jenson's concept of infinity. He is unboundedly lively, "A Temporal Infinity," no temporal metric may keep pace with Him. Jenson also formulates his notion in such a way that the embrace of time makes God's events in time their own presupposition in God's eternity, so that, strictly speaking, the power that enables Jesus to be resurrected, is in fact, that God unrestrctedly participates already in the resurrection of Jesus. This seems circular, says Jenson, only if we maintain a strictly linear conception of eternity. Rather, God's eternity is an eternal LIFE, rather than a static aloofness. I have to criticize Jenson at this point, because it seems insufficient to merely term God's eternity as "temporal infinity," for, echoing Pannenbergs criticism of Jenson's understanding, God does not merely unrestrictedly anticipate the future, but rather that future is already achieved for God, nor indeed does the past slip away for God (as Jenson seems to say, while nonetheless modifying this understanding that God is not limited by the actualization of events in the past because of his infinite overcoming). Rather I would adopt Pannenbergs understanding of eternity as the simultaneous possession (or authentic possession) of the fullness of life, so that we may adopt Jenson's positive insights without thereby falling into the trap of seeing a future that God does not yet actually possess (even if He anticipates it in an unrestricted way because the Spirit is the transforming future of God)
Other aspects of Jenson's work are quite involved (especially his sections "On One Being with the Father," and his chapter on the being of God, are particularly interesting for their interaction with philosophers like Heidegger and Aquinas) Jenson's understanding of the Trinity as the dramatis personae dei (characters of the drama of God) is also illuminating, and Jenson has insights similar to others in the field (i.e. Pannenberg, Gunton, Grenz, Moltmann etc...) of the mutual reciprocities of distinction within the Trinity, so that each would not be themselves if not for the reciprocal distinction to and for the others. Just so Jenson's Christology is similar to Pannenberg's when He understands that Christ defers reference from Himself to the Father, and is so doing is a perfect correlate to the Father. He expands this in his own erudite way, explaining the destinctions with the other two as well, significantly noting the problem with traditional understanding of the Trinity is that the terminology and logic is couched in terms of relations of origin, rather than also considering the active relations of the persons in History. An illuminating piece of scholarship as well is Jenson's discussion on the particular problems inherent in identifying a "three-in-one" God. Why, when we have three instances of the Divine ousia (essence) do we not then have three Gods? "God," says Jenson (following Gregory of Nyssa) "is a predicate." and thus how many Gods we assert depends on how many subjects we attribute to it. "There are three instances of the divine ousia but these are not three gods--as three instances of humanity are trhee human beings--because God is not a word for the divine ousia;...There are three instances of divine ousia does not itself imply there are three gods because divine ousia and god do not have the same referent. Rather, God...refers to the mutual action of the identities...to the perichoretic triune life. And since all divine action is the singular mutual work of the Father, Son, and Spirit, there is only one such life and therefore only one subject of the predicate God."
On a final note, I have to also mention that despite Jenson's brilliance here with his work on the Trinity, he seems to maintain terminology of subsistant relation, attempting to re-utilize (in a clearer and more complex way) Augustine's psychological analogies. While this isn't entirely innapropriate due to the context Jenson puts it in (which seems to recall Pannenberg's discussion of ecstatic relationships between the members of the trinity) Jenson nonetheless ends up calling the Trinity "a person," which, despite Jenson's complex argument, didnt convince me, and so I once again defer understanding to Pannenberg, who says that we cannot understand the Trinity as a person, rather the trinity is impersonal in the sense that Robert Jenson would use for "God," being a predicate of the Triune action instead of itself a referent.
This book is highly recommended especially for those who enjoy philosophical theology and explanations of historical evolution of thought in the church.
America's Finest Theologian May 3, 2003
At a lecture in Chicago, Wolfhart Pannenberg pointed to a man in the audience and announced that the gentleman was the finest systematic theologian in the United States. That man was Robert W. Jenson. Jenson is not an easy theologian to read. His writing style is unique. His erudition overwhelming. His commitment to a catholic presentation of the Christian faith is emphatic; but he is also creative and original. What is perhaps most refreshing about Jenson is his refusal to surrender to the ideologies and fashions of the day. I have been reading Jenson's works for the past twenty years, and he remains one of the most intellectually exciting theologians that I know.
If you want to understand Jenson, you must understand that that he truly believes that Jesus of Nazareth is the Second Person of the Holy Trinity, that the historical man Jesus is constitutive for the identity of God.
Few will agree with Jenson at all points; but all will be creatively challenged by him.
Jenson is sometimes compared to Moltmann. Moltmann is of course far more popular; but he cannot hold a candle to Jenson's erudition, originality, and creativity.
Jenson is profitably read in conversation with the systematic theology of Wolfhart Pannenberg.