Gagarin and the Seven Heavens & Follow-up Posts

This page is where I will compile all of the follow-up posts to “Gagarin and the Seven Heavens”. I will edit this page as I post the pieces on which I’m tinkering. Here, they are not listed in the order in which I published them, but are arranged in semi-chronological groups. (The Protestant section needs cleanup here.) 

biblical & pseudepigraphal texts;
largely pre-Nicene figures & movements

The second follow-up post (on the cosmography involved in the Sinai narratives in the Hebrew Bible) is here. The fourth follow-up post (on the ascent through the eight heavens in The Apocalypse of Abraham) is here.

Nicene and post-Nicene authors & movements

The first follow-up post (on Aphrahat) is here. The fifth follow-up post on Theodoret of Cyrus was broken up into several parts; follow-up post five-one is here, post five-two is here, post five-three is here, post five-four is here, post five-five is here, post five-six is here, and post five-seven is here.

Protestant authors

These are in no particular logical or chronological order, and encompass evangelical and Magisterial Protestants — though I start with Reformed and Evangelical authors who take a somewhat more “high view” of the Bible and biblical authority, and then move towards those Protestant thinkers and traditions that are wrestling in a more open and public way with Christian theology in the modern world.

Protestants and Catholics During the Reformations

The medieval period is the necessary backdrop to Martin Luther, and there are, currently, no entries on the medieval period (which began circa. A.D. 800 with the crowning of Charlemagne, and no one is entirely sure when it ended, though most agree that the Reformations were not events within the medieval period). Nonetheless, I will here start with posts on the various Protestant and Catholic reformers of the Reformations period, regarding the ascension of Jesus and related cosmo-theological things.

The posts on Martin Luther begin with follow-up post fifteen here, with Luther’s claim that Jesus’ humanity is ubiquitous together with his divinity, because of the communication of properties, so that Jesus’ humanity does not have a “location” like a creaturely body.

Evangelical & Reformed authors

Evangelical and Reformed authors in the modern period tend to stand on the authority of the biblical text in a way that feels different from the combination of naivety and speculative caution that marked most of the patristic witnesses. It seems to be understood that the biblical text is bearing witness to materially concrete things, such that more abstract considerations are not terribly welcome — especially if those abstract considerations recursively engage in a critical relationship to the text. It does not seem that the text is thought to be there to facilitate any kind of religious ecstasy, but to give data, and that this data is there to be defended — positivistic peonage.

My tentative suspicion is that a growing rift between, on the one hand, early modern scientific cosmologies and findings, and, on the other hand, the biblical text as it was liberated from late antique & medieval metaphysics, forced a set of choices about how to reconcile the two on the assumption that truth is coherent. If the biblical text is given over to advances in cosmological and historical disciplines, one gets liberal magisterial Protestantism or else some form of Spinozism or something; if one affirms the truth of the text, then one must decide how the text is true, and judge the world and the sciences from the text, at least to some degree. I cannot help but think that this is indicative of the idiosyncrasy of temperamental inclination and class predispositions, but, regardless of its origins, it holds sway. The sixth follow-up post (Dodds) is here, the seventh (Erickson) is here, the eighth (Grudem) is here, and the ninth (Packer) is here. (Packer, an Anglican, is something of an outlier, and I am not sure whether to place him here or in the next section.)

Magisterial Protestants

The magisterial Protestants tend to be aware of critical biblical studies in a way that the more authoritarian evangelical and traditional Reformed folks are not; magisterial Protestants seem, on the whole, to want all knowledge to fit together, whereas the more textual-authoritarian types seem to want to trumpet the divine word with a kind of confidence that is not coordinated with all knowledge, but trumps alternatives. Magisterial Protestants are familiar with figures like Barth and Bultmann, and sometimes show a proclivity to see the world in a kind of magical realism that is very charming and winsome (especially among the English), even if it is unhelpful for historical investigations. Thus, we start with the tenth post (Polkinghorne), which is here. The eleventh post (Jenson, 1) is here, the twelfth post (Jenson 2) is here, and the thirteenth post (Jenson 3) is here. The fourteenth post (C.S. Lewis) is here. Paul Tillich appeared in the third follow-up post (a long excerpt on divine omnipresence in a one-story universe vs. a three-story one) here. The fifteenth post (on Martin Luther, the OG Protestant) is here.