My Recent Book

In 2011, Catholic University of America Press published my first book, Reason Fulfilled By Revelation:  The 1930s Christian Philosophy Debates in France.  It was six very long, at times arduous, but always intellectually exciting years in the making -- from starting on the original (much smaller) project, through following out the research involved, translation and retranslation, writing and writing yet more, and then, finally, holding the finished book in my hands

Reason Fulfilled by Revelation is one component of a much more extensive research project focused on the history and the concept of Christian philosophy, and on the 1930s French debates over Christian philosophy in particular.  I've got plans for writing several other books centering on these topics, thinkers, and texts

I have created this page specifically devoted to Reason Fulfilled By Revelation to provide readers information about my book and continuing research, specifically: what resources the book includes; which readers its was intended for; the various issues, figures and controversies discussed; the stories of both the debates and my own research; and ways readers can interact with me or invite me to provide a lecture, discussion, or workshop on Christian philosophy.

Which Readers was this Book Intended For?

Like so many other scholarly works, Reason Fulfilled by Revelation started originally as a labor of love, intended primarily for other scholars researching 20th century philosophy and theology. As my manuscript grew in size and as it gradually coalesced into its present form -- and even more as I spoke more and more often about the debates and the issues about Christian philosophy not only with fellow academics and students but also interested, educated non-academics -- I realized that these debates are conversations interesting to and valuable for a much broader readership.

Anyone interested in the history of -- or current-day -- relationships between reason and faith, philosophy and Christianity, modernity and religion, will find both the introduction and the translated documents useful and stimulating.  I project that seminarians, theologians, and pastors will find the book particularly thought-provoking

I envisioned that four main groups of scholars would find this book particularly invaluable. First, since the debates were largely carried out between Catholic and secularist (but also a few Protestant) thinkers, those working explicitly within the Catholic intellectual tradition can certainly benefit from renewed contact with portions and figures of that tradition that have been somewhat neglected.  Second the growing Protestant (particularly Reformed) scholarship on the issue of Christian philosophy will find interaction with these debates and their documents informative and engaging (not last since the 1930s debates informed smaller-scale 1940s-50s Francophone Reformed Protestant debates). Third, Anglophone scholarship in Continental philosophy will benefit by a more comprehensive view of 20th-century French philosophy. Fourth, those working in the wider field disciplines such as philosophy of religion, history of religion, and religious

What does Reason Fulfilled by Revelation include?

The book is basically divided into three main parts.  
  • the first part is a 96 page historical and thematic introduction to the debates themselves, their context, the key issues and the main participants.  In this portion, I narrate the story of how there came to be Christian philosophy debates in the first place, and why they got so tangled and complex -- and I provide some basic overviews of many of the positions taken by philosophers and theologians in the debates.
  • the second -- and largest part -- includes twelve chapters providing translations of key, previously untranslated documents from the 1930s debates.  While there are nine different thinkers works represented in this selection, Maurice Blondel has a much larger share than the others -- 4 different articles of his are translated here.  Some of these are dense, scholarly essays -- but some of them, particularly, Gilson's, Borne's, and De Solage's contributions are very accessible for a popular audience.
  • a 29 page chronological bibliography of literature from and on the debates, providing the most up-to-date and comprehensive listing available.  This is designed to be a research tool to assist scholars in further study of the debates and their issues.
If you'd like to peruse a bit of the book, you can read a number of short excerpts from Reason Fulfilled By Revelation on my author page at Goodreads

How I Got Involved in the Research

Perhaps more accurately put, how did I become captivated by these debates, their key figures, their main ideas, the lines of controversy, critique, conflict, and agreement? How did I start from a suggestion to translate a few pieces of Blondel from the 1930s and end up with an entire file cabinet drawer stuffed with photocopied articles tracked down or discovered over a four year period?

How did study of one discussion, article, or book, reveal not only unsuspected depths to the issues of these debates, but also references to other works, other thinkers, which then had to be found, read through, sometimes studied line by line and mulled over?  How did this activity, over months and then years, gradually uncover, like a metropolis buried over by sedimented years then brought back by the archeologist's panoply of tools, a complex series of debates, whose nodes were strung out like beads connecting threads running through the pages of philosophical, theological, even historical and popular journals?

How did all of this impress upon me all the more the necessity of these documents being translated, forgotten figures like Blondel being given voice in English, younger, upcoming, and often French-less scholars being afforded a view from the vista to which my research on the debates was a climb that had left in its wake handholds and paths for any who would make the same ascent? There's more to the story, as there always is, but this will hopefully suffice for the present.

The Story of the Debates, Narrated Via Video

I tell the story of how the 1930s French debates begin, with the 1931 Société française de Philosophie session, devoted to the problem of Christian philosophy, Etienne Gilson presenting.  Three different positions (Rationalist, Existential Thomist, Blondelian) on the possibility and the nature of Christian philosophy are represented at that meeting.  During this period, articles and books also start coming out representing these three positions, as well as the Augustinian position (articulated by Michel Souriau). Gilson, Maritain, and Blondel develop their book-length contributions to the debates during this period.

(much more yet to come!)