David Bentley Hart

David Bentley Hart
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David Bentley Hart (born 1965) is an Eastern Orthodox theologian, philosopher, and cultural commentator.

Hart was educated at the University of Maryland, the University of Cambridge and the University of Virginia. He has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), Duke Divinity School, and Loyola College in Maryland. He was most recently a visiting professor at Providence College, having also previously held the Robert J. Randall Chair in Christian Culture there.[1] He is a relative of early-20th century baseball player Jack Bentley.



Hart's work exhibits a knowledge of the Western philosophical tradition, from classical antiquity to postmodernity, as well as a knowledge of world literature, art, history, and culture. His own theology and philosophy are deeply informed by the writings of the Church Fathers and are engaged in many of the central themes of classical, modern and Continental philosophy. Rowan Williams, John Milbank, Geoffrey Wainwright, Robert Jenson, Janet Martin Soskice, Reinhard Hütter, and others have praised his work.[citation needed] Many of the large themes of his work in philosophical theology are summarized in his essay "The Offering of Names" (see bibliography below). The fullest exposition of his theological vision, however, is his The Beauty of the Infinite.

In recent years, Hart has also written extensively on evil and suffering. Many of these texts are haunted by an obvious horror at the suffering of children, and at times there are hints of what might be called asceticism, with some reproaches to Gnosticism.

On May 27, 2011, Hart's book, Atheist Delusions, was awarded the Michael Ramsey prize in Theology.[2]


As a patristics scholar, Hart is especially concerned with the Greek tradition, with a particular emphasis on Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor. His writings on such figures are distinctive in that they are not cast in the mold of typical patristics scholarship; Hart is quite willing, for instance, to use Maximus as a "corrective" to Heidegger's "history of Being". The emphasis is very much on ideas and "deep readings", which seek to wrest from ancient texts insights that might fruitfully be brought into living contact with contemporary questions.

Hart's work is controversial in some respects,[citation needed] and he has his critics,[who?] particularly among Protestant thinkers in the Reformed tradition. His defense of the classical doctrine of divine apatheia, of the analogia entis, and other aspects of Christian tradition are all worked out within the web of his own thought and elicit extensive debate.[citation needed] Issues of the Scottish Journal of Theology and New Blackfriars have devoted special space to his work.

As a cultural critic, Hart appears "conservative" in many respects, but his politics are difficult to define. On a number of occasions he has called himself an "anarchist monarchist". He is as suspicious of classical liberal capitalism as of centralized state socialism, and so his criticisms of modern culture are largely free from any conspicuous partisan allegiances.



  • Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.
  • In the Aftermath: Provocations and Laments. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans: 2008.
  • The Story of Christianity: An Illustrated History of 2000 Years of the Christian Faith. London: Quercus: 2007.
  • The Doors of the Sea. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans: 2005.
  • The Beauty of the Infinite : The Aesthetics of Christian Truth. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans: 2003.


  • Response to critiques of The Beauty of the Infinite by Francesca Murphy and John A. McGuckin, Scottish Journal of Theology 60 (February 2007): 95-101.
  • "Daniel Dennett Hunts the Snark", First Things 169 (January 2007).
  • Contribution to Theology as Knowledge: A Symposium, First Things 163 (May 2006): 21-27.
  • "The Lively God of Robert Jenson", First Things 156 (October 2005): 28-34.
  • "The Anti-Theology of the Body", The New Atlantis 9 (Summer 2005): 65-73.
  • "The Soul of a Controversy", The Wall Street Journal (April 1, 2005).
  • "Tsunami and Theodicy", First Things 151 (March 2005): 6-9.
  • "The Laughter of the Philosophers", First Things 149 (January 2005): 31-38. A review loosely structured around The Humor of Kierkegaard by Thomas C. Oden, containing a long excursus on Johann Georg Hamann.
  • "God or Nothingness" in I Am the Lord Your God: Christian Reflections on the Ten Commandments Carl E. Braaten and Christopher Seitz, eds. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005: 55-76.
  • "The Offering of Names: Metaphysics, Nihilism, and Analogy" in Reason and the Reasons of Faith. Reinhard Hütter and Paul J. Griffiths, eds. London: T. & T. Clark, 2005: 55-76.
  • "Tremors of Doubt", The Wall Street Journal (December 31, 2004). This article was the seed for the book The Doors of the Sea.
  • "Ecumenical Councils of War", Touchstone (November 2004).
  • "The Pornography Culture", The New Atlantis 6 (Summer 2004): 82-89.
  • "Freedom and Decency", First Things 144 (June/July 2004): 35-41.
  • "An Orthodox Easter", The Wall Street Journal (April 9, 2004) (in "Houses of Worship").
  • "Religion in America: Ancient & Modern", The New Criterion (March 2004).
  • "A Most Partial Historian", First Things 138 (December 2003): 34-41. A review of Religion and Public Doctrine in Modern England Volume III: Accommodations by Maurice Cowling.
  • "Christ and Nothing", First Things 136 (October 2003): 47-57.
  • "The Bright Morning of the Soul: John of the Cross on Theosis", Pro Ecclesia (Summer 2003): 324-45.
  • "Thine Own of Thine Own: the Orthodox Understanding of Eucharistic Sacrifice" in Rediscovering the Eucharist: Ecumenical Considerations Roch A. Kereszty, ed. (Paulist Press, 2003): 142-169.
  • "A Gift Exceeding Every Debt: An Eastern Orthodox Appreciation of Anselm's Cur Deus Homo", Pro Ecclesia 7.3: 333-348.
  • "The Mirror of the Infinite: Gregory of Nyssa on the Vestigia Trinitatis", Modern Theology 18.4 (October 2002): 542-56
  • "No Shadow of Turning: On Divine Impassibility", Pro Ecclesia (Spring 2002): 184-206.
  • Contribution to The Future of the Papacy: A Symposium, First Things 111 (March 2001): 28-36.
  • "The 'Whole Humanity': Gregory of Nyssa's Critique of Slavery in Light of His Eschatology", Scottish Journal of Theology 54.1 (2001): 51-69.
  • "Analogy" in Elsevier Concise Encyclopaedia of Religion and Language (Elsevier Press, 2001).
  • "The Writing of the Kingdom: Thirty-Seven Aphorisms towards an Eschatology of the Text", Modern Theology (Spring 2000): 181-202.
  • "Matter, Monism, and Narrative: An Essay on the Metaphysics of Paradise Lost" Milton Quarterly (Winter 1996): 16-27.

Book reviews

See also

  • Catholic–Orthodox theological differences


External links

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