Monday, 16 April 2007

Radical Orthodoxy Bibliography in English - as promissed!

Radical Orthodoxy bibliography (2007)

This bibliography is intended to be a short guide for people interested in the Radical Orthodoxy movement and contemporary issues in theology. I am merely mentioning and commenting on some of the sources here, without any claims of being objective. For the one who is interested in a fuller bibliography I can recommend James Smith’s (see below). These sources can and should bee taken together with the other published bibliography on the Emerging Church since they are parallel phenomena, originating from two different theological continents.

Milbank, John; Pickstock, Catherine; Ward, Graham, A New Theology: Radical Orthodoxy (London, Routledge, 1999)

This is the book that started it all. It is the New Testament of RO! A group of theologians, many still doing their PhDs, gathered for a conference in Cambridge under the title that later became this book. The width of subjects is worth noting – from economy to sex to language philosophy. It manifests the attempt of RO to be all-encompassing in theology, that theology has a magisterial use in the sciences. The introduction to the book is often quoted as a programmatic sketch of the general theological sensibilities that drives the project.

Milbank, John, Theology and Social Theory (Oxford: Blackwell, 1990).

If the book above is the New Testament, this one is the Old. It was written as am ideological preamble of what later became RO. It is a sharp criticism (though often as complicated as it is dubious in its arguments) of how modern, mainly European, theology has given in to secularism. Theology has been done, not from a theological perspective primarily but from the paradigm of social science. Even if its criticism is well needed I think the way there is one that I would not share.

Smith, James, K.A. Introducing Radical Orthodoxy: Mapping a Post-Secular Theology.

This is my favourite introduction to RO. The first chapters which are an orientation in modern theology are worth reading on its own even if RO is not ones interest. The book is written from a Protestant-Reformed perspective (Kuyper, Doyerweerd) which is no secret. The fact that the writer is writing from an open perspective makes it an extra interesting read as he tries to show overlaps between theological strands and makes suggestions for how the conversation can go further. Don’t miss the controversial yet stimulating use of Leibniz metaphysics as a way to redeem creational theology! Sadly Smith is not able to make any good contribution to RO’s view of the history/genealogy of ideas which is so central to the whole project. For instance he is merely repeating the supra-Augustinian Aquinas and the historically misinformed interpretation of Scotus’ ideas heavily influenced by Etienne Gilson’s grand yet biased views. For a what should be an ultimate defeater for this old school interpretation see Riochard Cross’ great and intricate article, "'Where Angels Fear to Tread': Duns Scotus and Radical Orthodoxy," in Antonianum 76.1 (2001): 7-41. This criticism aside, his voice is well needed and welcome in the RO conversation.

Here is Smith’s biliography:

Some relevant homepages: [Smith’s homepage] [A good article from a good Roman Catholic Journal!] [Since RO has its deepest historical and ideological roots in the Roman Catholic 20th century reform movement Nouvelle Theologie I cannot neglect mentioning this homepage.]