Edward Oakes, S.J., gave a talk on “biblical apologetics” yesterday at Duke. Apologetics is not usually a topic of great interest to me, but the modifier “biblical” caught my attention, so I made a point to catch his presentation. In the course of his talk, he pointed our attention to Newman’s Tract 85 and Dryden’s Religio Laici. (If, as I hope, I sometime teach a course on Anglican Hermeneutics, I’ll want to remember to enlist these sources for the reading list.) Oakes made a variety of points about Scripture and criticism, especially in the cultural climate that has brought forth a recent spate of ardent atheists; I appreciated his emphasis that theologians should acknowledge the full weight of a skeptic’s objections, and the patience with which he sketched the rationality of a respectful, believing response to those objections.
Unfortunately, somewhere along the line somebody mis-heard both the title and the topic of the work on which he is presently engaged; posters announced him as the author of a forthcoming work on dogmatic theology entitled “Infinity Dwindled to Infinity,” whereas he’s working on a book about christology entitled “Infinity Dwindled to Infancy” (alluding to his fellow Jesuit Gerard Manley Hopkins’s poem “The Blessed Virgin compared to the Air we Breathe.”