In 2019, Eerdmans Publishing released Human Rites: The Power of Rituals, Habits, and Sacraments by Dru Johnson. Johnson is an Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at The King’s College in New York City. He is an editor for the Routledge Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Biblical Criticism series, an associate director for the Jewish Philosophical Theology Project at The Herzl Institute in Israel; and a co-host for the OnScript Podcast.
From the publisher’s description of Human Rites:
What are we doing when we gather around the sacraments— or when we make the same breakfast every morning? Embodying rituals, says Dru Johnson. And until we understand what we’re doing and why, we won’t know how these rituals work, what they mean, or how we might adapt them.
In Human Rites Johnson considers the concept of ritual as seen in Scripture and its role in shaping our thinking. He colorfully illustrates both the mundane and the sacred rituals that penetrate all of life, offering not only a helpful introduction to rituals but also a framework for understanding them. As he unpacks how rituals pervade every area of our lives, Johnson suggests biblical ways to focus our use of rituals, habits, and sacraments so that we can see the world more truly through them.
On February 28, The King’s College welcomed the Rev. Dr. Dru Johnson to discuss Human Rites.
Engaging Paul Moser’s Christ-Shaped Philosophy (CSP), this paper argues that listening is a philosophical virtue that is an essential characteristic of the Christ-shaped philosopher by meeting the Divine Love Commands (DLC).
The paper first highlights the pertinent parts of Moser’s project that relate to the thesis of the paper – specifically that a defining feature of CSP is characterized by one’s Gethsemane union with Christ. The paper then follows with a discussion on the central role that listening plays in Scripture regarding the life of a child of God, providing a basis upon which to understand listening as meeting the first DLC.
Drawing upon the works of thinkers such as Paul Moser, Dru Johnson, and Carol Harrison, among other, the paper engages the role of listening in one’s engagement with others, thus meeting the second DLC.
The paper concludes by engaging the art of listening as a philosophical virtue, employing Rebecca Konyndyk DeYoung’s definition of ‘virtue’ and Suzanne Rice’s exploration of listening as a Christ-shaped philosophical virtue.
The full-text of this paper is available for FREE by clicking here.
From the publisher’s description of Biblical Philosophy:
In Biblical Philosophy, Dru Johnson examines how the texts of Christian Scripture argue philosophically with ancient and modern readers alike. He demonstrates how biblical literature bears the distinct markers of a philosophical style in its use of literary and philosophical strategies to reason about the nature of reality and our place within it. Johnson questions traditional definitions of philosophy and compares the Hebraic style of philosophy with the intellectual projects of ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Hellenism. Identifying the genetic features of the Hebraic philosophical style, Johnson traces its development from its hybridization in Hellenistic Judaism to its retrieval by the New Testament authors. He also shows how the Gospels and letters of Paul exhibit the same genetic markers, modes of argument, particular argument forms, and philosophical convictions that define the Hebraic style, while they engaged with Hellenistic rhetoric. His volume offers a model for thinking about philosophical styles in comparative philosophical discussions.
Here is an introduction to the Center for Hebraic Thought:
From the publisher’s description of Epistemology and Biblical Theology:
Epistemology and Biblical Theology pursues a coherent theory of knowledge as described across the Pentateuch and Mark’s Gospel. As a work from the emerging field of philosophical criticism, this volume explores in each biblical text both narrative and paraenesis to assess what theory of knowledge might be presumed or advocated and the coherence of that structure across texts. In the Pentateuch and Mark, primacy is placed on heeding an authenticated and authoritative prophet, and then enacting the guidance given in order to see what is being shown in order to know. Erroneous knowing follows the same boundaries: failure to attend to the proper authoritative voice or failure to enact guidance creates mistaken understanding. With a working construct of proper knowing in hand, points of contact with and difficulties for contemporary philosophical epistemologies are suggested. In the end, Michael Polanyi’s scientific epistemology emerges as the most commensurable view with knowing as it appears in these foundational biblical texts. Therefore, this book will be of interest to scholars working across the fields of Biblical studies and philosophy. Dru Johnson’s other “Bible and Philosophy” books include Scripture’s Knowing and Knowledge by Ritual. See also Dru’s paper here at the EPS website, “A Biblical Nota Bene on Philosophical Inquiry.”
In 2016, Eisenbrauns published Knowledge by Ritual (JTISup 13) by Dru Johnson. Dru Johnson is an Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at The King’s College in New York City, co-chair of the Hebrew Bible and Philosophy program unit in the Society of Biblical Literature, and a former Templeton Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies–Shalem Center (now The Herzl Institute) in Jerusalem.
From the publisher’s description of Knowledge by Ritual:
What do rituals have to do with knowledge? Knowledge by Ritual examines the epistemological role of rites in Christian Scripture. By putting biblical rituals in conversation with philosophical and scientific views of knowledge, Johnson argues that knowing is a skilled adeptness in both the biblical literature and scientific enterprise. If rituals are a way of thinking in community akin to scientific communities, then the biblical emphasis on rites that lead to knowledge cannot be ignored. Practicing a rite to know occurs frequently in the Hebrew Bible. YHWH answers Abram’s skepticism “How shall I know that I will possess the land?” with a ritual intended to make him know (Gen 15:7 21). The recurring rites of Sabbath (Exod 31:13) and dwelling in a Sukkah (Lev 23:43) direct Israel toward discernment of an event’s enduring significance. Likewise, building stone memorials aims at the knowledge of generations to come (Josh 4:6). Though the New Testament appropriates the Torah rites through strategic reemployment, the primary questions of sacramental theology have often presumed that rites are symbolically encoded. Hence, understanding sacraments has sometimes been reduced to decoding the symbols of the rite. Knowledge by Ritual argues that the rites of Israel, as portrayed in the biblical texts, disposed Israelites to recognize something they could not have seen apart from their participation. By examining the epistemological function of rituals, Johnson’s monograph gives readers a new set of questions to explore both the sacraments of Israel and contemporary sacramental theology.
From the publisher’s description of Scripture’s Knowing:
Scripture’s Knowing is a guide to the emerging field of philosophical study of Scripture, specifically about knowing. Assuming that the Scriptures speak verbosely and persistently about knowing, what do the biblical authors have to say? How do they conceptualize ideas like truth and knowledge? Most importantly, how do we come to confidently know anything at all? Scripture’s Knowing follows the discourse on knowledge through key biblical texts and shows the similarity of biblical knowing with the scientific enterprise. The findings are linked to the role of ritual in knowing and implications for theologians and churches today.
See also this 33-minute interview with Dru Johnson
This month Eerdmans published Christian Practical Wisdom: What it is, Why it Matters by Dorothy C. Bass [director emerita of the Valparaiso Project on the Education and Formation of People in Faith], Kathleen A. Cahalan [professor of theology at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary, Collegeville, Minnesota], Bonnie J. Miller-McLemore [E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of Religion, Psychology, and Culture at Vanderbilt University], James R. Nieman [president of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago], Christian B. Scharen [vice president of applied research at Auburn Theological Seminary, New York].From the publisher’s description:
In this richly collaborative work, five distinguished scholars examine the oft-neglected embodied practical wisdom that is essential for true theological understanding and faithful Christian living. After first showing what Christian practical wisdom is and does in several real-life situations, the authors tell why such practical wisdom matters and how it operates, exploring reasons behind its decline in both the academy and the church and setting forth constructive cases for its renewal.
Christian Practical Wisdom is ripe for further philosophical and interdisciplinary reflection from Christian philosophers. Theologically attentive philosophers will find opportunities to reflect on issues of epistemology, ethics and moral-spiritual formation in these pages. Fruitful pairings with this book could include works from Esther Meek, Dru Johnson, Dallas Willard, Eugene Peterson, and James K.A. Smith.
What makes Christian philosophy Christian, and not merely theist? This brief essay argues that inquiry, as portrayed across Scripture, demonstrates the ability to discern novel instances of patterns learned because one is grounded in both the particular history of Israel and the all-of-life practices of the Torah—later revised by the New Testament practices.
Minimally, the biblical logic on this question requires that our inquiry stems from the particular teaching and practices prescribed from Moses to Jesus. Christian inquiry does not necessarily derive from an inward spiritual/mental realm, but is primarily depicted as guided and embodied practices that shape the community to develop discernment, or what Scripture calls “wisdom”. A note on biblical methodology ensues my conclusions.
The full-text of this contribution is available for FREE by clicking here. See also Dru Johnson’s notable books on Bible and Philosophy featured here at the EPS website.