On Thinking the Human
Interested in buying rights? Click here to make an offer

Rights Contact Login For More Details

More About This Title On Thinking the Human


Since Socrates, the effort to understand ourselves precisely as human has been the central occupation of Western thought. In this short, profound book Robert W. Jenson argues that not only are all philosophical attempts to accurately think the self doomed to failure, but also that the category "human" is unthinkable without reference to God. 

As Jenson says at the outset of the book, "our anthropological endeavors are at once impelled and checked by an epistemic quirk or set of quirks: notions we need to use and do use when we talk about ourselves as human resist being thought." On Thinking the Human, which tackles this problem theologically while also giving a nod to philosophic heavyweights like Hegel, Nietzsche, and Heidegger, is a concise attempt to explain why this is so.

Under chapter titles that reflect the problem's different facets — "Thinking Death," "Thinking Consciousness," "Thinking Freedom," "Thinking Reality," "Thinking Wickedness," and "Thinking Love" — Jenson limns the difficulty inherent in each concept and then shows how the unthinkable becomes thinkable in light of the triune God of Scripture.


Robert W. Jenson is senior scholar for research at theCenter of Theological Inquiry in Princeton, New Jersey. Heis also cofounder and associate director of the Center forCatholic and Evangelical Theology and cofounder andcoeditor of Pro Ecclesia. Among his many other booksis the two-volume Systematic Theology (Oxford).


"The liveliness, creativity, and rigor of Robert Jenson's thought and expression have made him one of the most stimulating theologians of the last half-century. . . Serves as a welcome introduction to Jenson's profound mind."

Toronto Journal of Theology
"A jewel of a work of philosophical theology. . . This is at once a profound work and a thoroughly readable one, which is a fairly rare feat in itself. . . Robert Jenson has given us a book whose arguments are remarkably clean and deep."

Gilbert Meilaender
"Here are some rules for reading this 'little' book by Robert Jenson: Do not think of it as bedtime reading. Eliminate the word skim from your vocabulary. Rid yourself of the idea that philosophers and theologians are engaged in fundamentally different enterprises. Throw out the idea that human existence is unproblematic but that God's is a puzzle and can be understood only by reference to our own. Follow these rules, and this little book about the most basic aspects of human life will seem little no more."

F. LeRon Shults
"Anyone who reads this book carefully will never again be able to think about death, consciousness, freedom, reality, wickedness, or love in the same way. Just so, they will never again think the same way about their own thinking! Along the way, readers will gain new insights into the work of great theologians like Luther, Hegel, Edwards, and, of course, Robert Jenson himself."

Marguerite Shuster
"What a stimulating book! Seldom have I been provoked to scribble quite so many marginal notes. Taking a genuinely fresh look at human characteristics we tend merely to assume in our everyday conversation, Robert Jenson demonstrates that we quite literally do not know what we are talking about. And insofar as he succeeds in showing that we cannot even conceive fundamental aspects of our humanity without reaching well beyond ourselves (specifically, to our relationship to the triune God who made and sustains us), he decisively undercuts all reductionism. This slender volume is too probing and original to be a quick read, but it is gracefully — even playfully — written by a man who wears his considerable learning lightly. It richly repays careful attention. "

Robert Louis Wilken
"Known best for his many theological books, Robert Jenson is here caught musing — in the study, as he walks out of a movie theater, in an art gallery, before an icon in a church, upon hearing terrible news of heartrending events — and, like all of us, he reflects on the things that touch us most deeply: our own death, consciousness, freedom, what is real, wickedness, love. . . Jenson's mind makes stimulating company."