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The God of Hope and the End of the World Paperback – September 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0300098556 ISBN-10: 0300098553

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (September 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300098553
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300098556
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #889,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the 1990s, Polkinghorne (Belief in God in an Age of Science) met regularly with an interdisciplinary group of scholars to address what Christian theology and scientific inquiry might have to say about the end of the world. In 2000, the group issued an essay collection, The End of the World and the Ends of God, but they also assigned Polkinghorne to write a briefer, more accessible volume about their work for the general reader. The excellence of this book shows that their faith in Polkinghorne as a writer and theologian was not misplaced. Polkinghorne argues that the world will not end with some grand attainment of human perfection, "but in the whimper of cold decay or the bang of fiery collapse." Either alternative "is a challenge to which theology must respond." In the opening chapters, he posits that a credible eschatological Christian theology will include both continuity and discontinuity; in other words, the new world God creates will have some similarities with this one, but it will also be a truly unique creation. This fascinating argument is followed by chapters on biblical precedents for eschatology. Polkinghorne is the first to admit that he is not a biblical scholar, but he does a fine job of crystallizing difficult concepts. He does this not through storytelling or personal anecdotes, but through a careful yet concise explication of ideas. Readers interested in the ongoing explorations of Christian faith and cosmology will not want to miss this volume, particularly since Polkinghorne takes on fellow theology-and-science writers such as Arthur Peacocke.

Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The rarest of hybrids, theoretical physicist and Anglican priest Polkinghorne sees in modern cosmology's grim predictions of universal decay the absolute necessity for a theological affirmation of human hope. That hope, he insists, depends upon the faithfulness of God, as revealed in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. To decipher what that miracle means for humanity and all other creatures, Polkinghorne scours the scriptural record, weighing not only the astonishing words but also their disquieting emotional tone. Surprisingly, Polkinghorne consults pioneering information theorists in interpreting these ancient texts. The puzzlement, even fear, of early witnesses of the risen Lord Polkinghorne regards as the understandable human reaction to the first-ever glimpse of a transformed and glorified life that transcended the natural cosmos and that will eventually redeem it. And modern science offers help in explaining how that transformed life could inhere in souls that--through God's grace--survive death as information-bearing patterns. Through this highly sophisticated exegesis, Polkinghorne thus reclaims a Christian doctrine--that of the physical Resurrection--discounted by many modern theologians as impossibly literal and naive. Though the casually religious will find him too technical, thoughtful Christians will find much to praise in this modern Aquinas. Bryce Christensen
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By John E. Paul on September 24, 2002
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I had to use my dictionary many times, and found myself rereading whole sections over, sometimes more than once. But I found the scope of Polkinghorne's book wonderful and challenging, from the physics of the Big Bang and the eschatological challenge of infinite expansion (vs. the Big Crunch) to pastoral implications for Anglican priests. This book is a condensation of a series of academic papers, certainly more dense and obscure, but it does a remarkable job of stretching our minds and perspective while still being inspriational. One of the most meaningful books of my spritual journey.
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful By From the Oregon Country on August 17, 2004
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Polkinghorne's book is a summary for the general reader of the discussions on eschatology by several scientists and theologians found in the earlier work, The End of the World and the Ends of God. However, as Polkinghorne alone wrote the latter work, it bears his mark as a well-known former scientist and current Anglican priest and writer on religious topics for the general public. The ideas he expresses would not be well-received either by doctrinaire fundamentalists, or by committed atheists. However, for the reader with an open mind, it presents a thought-provoking inquiry and meditation on the questions dealing with, to put it concisely, the meaning of it all. Does existence have a point, and if so, what is it?
Of course, as mentioned before, the author in an Anglican priest, so he writes from the Christian perspective. But there is no hint of dogmatism in what he has to say; and no apologies or lack of conviction either. Whether one agrees or disagrees with his ideas, they are stimulating. For example, in contast to most earlier theologians who speculated that any future existence must be beyond time, and thus an eternal Now, Polkinghorne points out that human beings are creatures of space and time, that cherished art-forms such as music require time, and proposes that any redeemed universe would contain some type of both space and time. Although he does not, of course, claim to know what a redeemed time would be like, he envisions the new creation as having its own history. Though it would be a history of fulfilment rather than becoming. And it would be based on the template set by the old universe, tho the new would have God as the direct underlying basis of it, rather than the laws of physics as now, based as they are on death and decay, as well as on life and creation.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul R. Bruggink on December 7, 2011
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The thesis of this book is that Christian belief provides the essential resource for answering the fundamental question of whether we live in a world that makes sense not just now, but totally and forever. Quoting author John Polkinghorne, "What I am seeking to do is to present the motivations for Christian eschatological hope, and to show that this hope is intelligible and defensible in the twenty-first century."

Polkinghorne then goes on to support his thesis. Although it draws its inspiration from an earlier collection of essays by a number of authors, this book stands on its own quite nicely.

For Polkinghorne, a foundation of the discussion "is the necessity of an interplay between continuity and discontinuity in speaking of God's purposes beyond the end of history." (p. xxiii) "There must be sufficient continuity to ensure that individuals truly share in the life to come as their resurrected selves and not as new beings simply given the old names. There must be sufficient discontinuity to ensure that the life to come is free from the suffering and mortality of the old creation." (p. 149)

"The equally necessary continuity between the old and new creations lies in the fact that the latter is the redeemed transform of the former. The pattern for this is the resurrection of Christ where . . . the Lord's risen body is the eschatological transform of his dead body. This implies that the new creation does not arise from a radically novel creative act ex nihilo, but as a redemptive act ex vetere, out of the old.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By L. Anthony Bomkamp on October 9, 2009
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For such a simple book, this is one of the more profound books I have read in recent years (I have an MA in Theology) in any realm of Christian Theology and particularly in the area of Eschatology.
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