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Trial of the Witnesses: The Rise and Decline of Postliberal Theology

ISBN: 978-1-4051-3295-4
320 pages
August 2006, Wiley-Blackwell
Trial of the Witnesses: The Rise and Decline of Postliberal Theology (1405132957) cover image
The much-discussed notion of Postliberal theology developed from the writings of two theologians at Yale University, Hans Frei and George Lindbeck.

  • An analysis and critique of the much-discussed idea of postliberal theology
  • Provides an overview of postliberalism and the controversies which resulted
  • Compares the writings of theologians Hans Frei and George Lindbeck, from which postliberal theology developed, and uncovers important differences in their thought
  • Reconceptualizes these thinkers’ contributions to contemporary theological discussion
  • Published in the prestigious Challenges in Contemporary Theology series.
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Preface.

1. Genesis of a Concept: Postliberalism and its Opponents.

Preparation: 1945–54.

Exploring New Directions at Yale: 1955–64.

A Tendency Takes Shape: 1965–74.

The “Yale School” before Postliberalism: 1975–84.

The Crystallization and Contentious Reception of Postliberalism: 1985–94.

The Decline of Postliberalism: 1995 to the Present.

The Goal of the Present Work.

2. George Lindbeck: Theology and the Ecclesial People of Witness.

Orthodoxy and Society after Christendom.

Community Definition by Grammatical Rules.

The Truth of the People of Witness.

A New Theology for the Ecclesial “Text”.

3. Hans Frei: Theology and the Christological Object of Witness.

Concreteness and Identity in the Christological Object.

Christology and Biblical Hermeneutics.

Negotiating Perspectives on the Christological Object.

The “Generosity” of Orthodoxy as an Issue of Method.

4. Lindbeck: Elusive Oppositions and the Construction of Postliberalism (I).

The Conceptual Scaffolding of the Liberal–Postliberal Dualism.

Ecclesiology and the Verbum Externum.

Liberalism as “Experiential-¬Expressivism”.

Intratextuality.

Temptations of Opposition.

5. Frei: Elusive Oppositions and the Construction of Postliberalism (II).

The Mystery of the Christological Object and Types of Theology.

The Typology.

Dogmatics and Apologetics: a Zero-sum Game?.

Systematic versus Ad Hoc (I): The Case of David Tracy.

Systematic versus Ad Hoc (II): Irreducible Mystery and the Lessons of Correlation.

6. The Trial of the Witnesses: The Yale Thinkers “After” Postliberalism.

Fashioning an Alternative to Postliberalism: The Trial.

Trial as Endurance under Temptation.

Trial as Experiment.

Trial as Submission to Judgment.

The Logic of Proliferation.

Bibliography.

Index

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Paul J. DeHart is Associate Professor of Theology at Vanderbilt Divinity School. His first book, Beyond the Necessary God, appeared in 2000.
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  • An analysis and critique of the much-discussed idea of postliberal theology
  • Provides an overview of postliberalism and the controversies which resulted
  • Compares the writings of theologians Hans Frei and George Lindbeck, from which postliberal theology developed, and uncovers important differences in their thought
  • Reconceptualizes these thinkers’ contributions to contemporary theological discussion
  • Published in the prestigious Challenges in Contemporary Theology series.
See More
"The book's main contribution thus lies less in its analysis of Lindbeck's and Frei's theology than in its suggestive insights as to what a liberal theology after postliberalism might look like". (The Journal of SJT, Volume 64/1, 2011)

“The Trial of the Witnesses is a truly exciting book that points to new ways of conceiving of and doing theology, both in its disruption of the terms of the postliberal debate and in it" modeling of a "thicker" form of textual analysis.” (The Journal of Religion, 2009)

"DeHart's The Trial of the Witnesses is both the most profound analysis to date of the so-called 'Yale School,' and a brilliant attempt to rehabilitate the distinctive theological approach of Hans Frei. But, more than that, it is also a highly suggestive and illuminating constructive proposal in its own right."
Faith and Theology

" DeHart sees postliberalism as a river whose future is in the many smaller streams of the delta it formed. Others may regard the very idea of a genuine and contained school of thought at Yale as overblown or parochial, seeing this school's contributions as part of a much bigger river flowing through 20th-century theology." Choice

“Engaging and insightful exploration … .Vivid presentation of … both cultural and scholastic contexts. This book is valuable for scholars and graduate students alike.” Religious Studies Review

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