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David Bentley Hart (born 1965) is an American writer, academic, and theologian whose work encompasses a wide range of subjects and genres. A prolific essayist, he has written on topics as diverse as art, literature, religion, philosophy, film, baseball, and politics. He is also an author of fiction.

As a religious scholar, his work engages heavily with classical, medieval and continental European philosophy, philosophical and systematic theology, patristic texts, and South and East Asian culture, religion, and metaphysics. His translation of the New Testament appeared in 2017.[1]


Life and careerEdit

Academic careerEdit

Hart earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland, his Master of Philosophy degree from the University of Cambridge, and his Master of Arts and Doctor of Philosophy degrees from the University of Virginia.[2] He has taught at the University of Virginia, the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota), Duke Divinity School, and Loyola College in Maryland. He served as visiting professor at Providence College, where he also previously held the Robert J. Randall Chair in Christian Culture. During the 2014-2015 academic year, Hart was Danforth Chair at Saint Louis University in the Department of Theological Studies. In 2015, he was appointed as Templeton Fellow at the University of Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study.[3]

Personal lifeEdit

Hart is a convert from high-church Anglicanism to Orthodoxy. Politically, he identifies as a democratic socialist[4][5] and is a member of the Democratic Socialists of America.[6]

Literary writingEdit

Noted for his distinctive, humorous, pyrotechnic and often combative prose style,[7][8][9] Hart has been described by one critic as "our greatest living essayist".[10] In addition to his theological and scholarly output, he has gained attention as a critical and occasional writer, producing essays on subjects as varied as Don Juan, Vladimir Nabokov, Charles Baudelaire, Victor Segalen, Leon Bloy, William Empson, David Jones, and baseball.[11] Two of his books, A Splendid Wickedness and The Dream-Child's Progress, are collections devoted to non-theological essays. They also include several short stories.

In 2012, The Devil and Pierre Gernet, a collection of his fiction, was released by Eerdmans.[12] His short stories have been described as "Borgesian"[13] and may be characterized as elaborate metaphysical fables, full of wordplay, allusion, and structural puzzles.

Awards and receptionEdit

Hart's first major work, The Beauty of the Infinite, an adaptation of his doctoral thesis, received acclaim from such notable theologians as John Milbank, Janet Soskice, and Reinhard Hütter. William Placher said of the book, "I can think of no more brilliant work by an American theologian in the past ten years."[14] Geoffrey Wainwright said, "This magnificent and demanding volume should establish David Bentley Hart, around the world no less than in North America, as one of his generation's leading theologians."[15]

On 27 May 2011, Hart's book Atheist Delusions was awarded the Michael Ramsey Prize in Theology,[16] and was praised by the famous agnostic philosopher Anthony Kenny: “Hart has the gifts of a good advocate. He writes with clarity and force, and he drives his points home again and again. He exposes his opponents’ errors of fact or logic with ruthless precision.”[17]

Oliver Burkeman, writing in The Guardian, praised Hart's book The Experience of God as "the one theology book all atheists really should read".[18]

Theological and philosophical writingsEdit

As a patristics scholar, Hart is especially concerned with the tradition of the Greek Fathers, with a particular emphasis on Gregory of Nyssa and Maximus the Confessor. His writings on such figures are distinctive in that they are not cast in the mold of typical patristics scholarship; Hart is quite willing, for instance, to use Maximus as a "corrective" to Martin Heidegger's "history of Being". The emphasis is very much on ideas and "deep readings", which seek to wrest from ancient texts insights that might fruitfully be brought into living contact with contemporary questions. Issues of the Scottish Journal of Theology and New Blackfriars have devoted special space to his work.

Of late his work has been much concerned with the doctrine of apokatastasis, or universal reconciliation, as well as philosophy of mind and the relationship between science and metaphysics.

Selected bibliographyEdit


  • The Hidden and the Manifest: Essays in Theology and Metaphysics. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans. 2017.
  • The Dream-Child's Progress and Other Essays. New York: Angelico Press. 2017.
  • A Splendid Wickedness and Other Essays. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans: 2016.
  • The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss. New Haven: Yale University Press: 2013.
  • The Devil and Pierre Gernet: Stories. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans: 2012.
  • Atheist Delusions: The Christian Revolution and Its Fashionable Enemies. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2009.
  • In the Aftermath: Provocations and Laments. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans: 2008.
  • The Story of Christianity: An Illustrated History of 2000 Years of the Christian Faith. London: Quercus: 2007.
  • The Doors of the Sea. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans: 2005.
  • The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans: 2003.


  • The New Testament: A Translation. Yale University Press: 2017.
  • Erich Przywara, Analogia Entis: Metaphysics: Original Structure and Universal Rhythm. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans: 2014. In collaboration with John R. Betz.


Book reviewsEdit

See alsoEdit


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  2. ^ "David Bentley Hart". The Berkley Center - Georgetown University. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  3. ^ "David Bentley Hart". Notre Dame - Institute for Advanced Study. Retrieved 23 March 2016.
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  14. ^ Placher, William C. (6 September 2004). "God's Beauty". The Christian Century. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  15. ^ Eerdmans Missing or empty |title= (help)
  16. ^ "Winner of £10,000 Theology Prize Announced". The Archbishop of Canterbury. May 2011. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  17. ^ The Times Literary Supplement Missing or empty |title= (help)
  18. ^ Burkeman, Oliver. "The one theology book all atheists really should read". The Guardian. Retrieved 7 January 2015.

External linksEdit