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Life in the Spirit
Trinitarian Grammar and Pneumatic Community in Hegel and Augustine
424 pages, 6.00 x 9.00
Paperback | 9780268028954 | December 2015
Hardcover | 9780268070618 | December 2015
eBook (Web PDF) | 9780268079796 | December 2015
eBook (EPUB) | 9780268070625 | December 2015
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Since the nineteenth century, many philosophical and theological commentators have sought to trace lines of continuity between the Trinitarian thought of Augustine of Hippo (354–430) and G. W. F. Hegel (1770–1831). Many contemporary Christian theologians have also criticized Augustine's Trinitarian theology generally and his doctrine of the Holy Spirit more specifically through this historical lens. At the same time, Hegelian Trinitarian conceptual dynamics have come to exert a strong influence over contemporary Trinitarian theology.
In Life in the Spirit, Douglas Finn seeks to redress several imbalances with respect to Augustine, imbalances that have one of their hermeneutic causes in a Hegelian-influenced theological tradition. Finn argues that common readings of Augustine focus too much on his De Trinitate, books 8–15, betraying a modern—and to some extent Hegelian—prejudice against considering sermons and biblical commentaries serious theological work. This broadening of Augustinian texts allows Finn to critique readings of Augustine that, on the one hand, narrow his Trinitarian theology to the so-called psychological analogy and thus chart him on a path to Descartes and Hegel, or, on the other hand, suggest he sacrifices a theology of the Trinitarian persons on the altar of divine substance. Augustine's Trinitarian theology on Finn's reading is one fully engaged with God's work in history.
With this renewed understanding of Augustine's Trinitarianism, Finn allows Augustine to interrogate Hegel with his concerns rather than only the other way around. In this ambitious study, Finn shows that Hegel's rendition of Christianity systematically obviates whole swaths of Christian prayer and practice. He does this nonpolemically, carefully, and with meticulous attention to the texts of both great thinkers.
Douglas Finn is assistant professor of theology at Boston College.
"Life in the Spirit is a timely work filling a real need in contemporary theological and philosophical thought. Douglas Finn shows that Augustine's Trinitarian theology is one fully engaged with God's work in history. It will completely reorient discussions on the Trinity in Christian theology and help to engage that discussion with contemporary continental philosophy." —Anthony C. Sciglitano, Seton Hall University
"This book importantly challenges the negative view of Augustine and the positive predeliction for Hegel among some contemporary thinkers, and most especially in relation to the Trinity. Douglas Finn has made commendable efforts to master two briefs, that is, the primary works of two major, challenging thinkers, as well as informing himself well of significant currents of secondary commentary on the works of each. This is an important contribution to the scholarship. Its importance is particularly evident in its willingness to call into question the claimed superiority of the Hegelian Trinitarianism and to offer a picture of Augustine that rehabilitates his Trinitarian thought, sometimes against hostile interpretations." —William Desmond, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Villanova University
Douglas Finn’s Life in the Spirit makes an important contribution to the on-going ‘renaissance of Trinitarian theology in recent decades’ by considering how two of Christian theology’s mot influential and controversial figures depict the Holy Spirit. . . . This book is strongly recommended to any working on Hegel or Augustine, and beyond this to those working more broadly within historical Trinitarian thought." —Reviews in Religion & Theology
"In his excellent new book Life in the Spirit, Douglas Finn of Boston College compares Hegel and Augustine on much more than just the topics of love and reason. With pneumatology as his key concern, and all of Hegel and Augustine’s works before him, Finn does more than just provide a comparison of contrasting views—although this is a strong part of the book. Reading Augustine’s sermons and commentaries as well as his more widely known works, Finn describes the shared concern for the spoken logos in the christologies of Hegel and Augustine, while emphasizing their differences." —Reading Religion
“Finn has a knack for taking complex ideas about the Trinity or ecclesiology and translating them into a series of digestible parallels, showing the reader where Augustine and Hegel converge and—perhaps more crucially—where they diverge.” —Journal of Religion
“Life in the Spirit is a rigorous and important contribution across the fields of Hegel and Augustine studies, with concrete bearing on the meaning and nature of the ongoing ‘Trinitarian renaissance,’ provoked in theology in the mid-twentieth century by Karl Barth and Karl Rahner.” —Modern Theology