I am a Methodist which means I have never trusted the language of perfection. So I am in Anthony Baker's debt for reclaiming the notion of perfection. This is a wonderful book that is not only sound scholarship but is morally profound. Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University Perfection is a crucial theme in the New Testament which lurks in much patristic thinking and was first foregrounded by the Wesley brothers. Within their tradition, and yet transcending it, Tony Baker provides us with the most sophisticated theological treatment of this topic to date - ranging over the Bible, Philosophy, Literature and Cultural History with a distinctive elan. He shows in particular how the loss of the metaphysics of participation was equally a loss of a sense of our relationship with God as a progress in perfection which was as much vertical as it was horizontal. This book is as close to perfection as one could hope for. Catherine Pickstock, University of Cambridge Is this a book or a symphony? Both. Does it concern theology or human existence? Both. In four movements, this book traces the emergence and deformations of the concept of perfection. Is perfection the plenitude of finite existence? The never-satisfied desire for the infinite? The imitation of God? Divinisation? Movement in repose? Without an empty nostalgia, A. Baker offers a critical history of Christian representations of perfection. He shows how the oppositions between nature and supernature, between the Bible and Hellenism, have been surmounted, but also how they have given place to a still provisional synthesis. He covers diverse "styles"--of concepts, which are also forms of life. He even offers his own style, in opposing the "distortions" to a more sound concept of perfection. A book immense with regard to stakes, dense with regard to the current mobilised culture. A book of supple and full construction, which will reward both the patient and the impatient. Olivier Boulnois, Directeur d'Etudes, Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes
About the Author
Anthony D. Baker is the Clinton S. Quin associate professor of systematic theology at Seminary of the Southwest in Austin, Texas. His courses and publications focus on the theological vision of human life.