Advice on taking first steps into analytic philosophy.

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Today I ran across a 2015 blog by James Anderson on taking some first steps towards gaining skills in analytic philosophy (one of the major background skillsets behind analytic and philosophical theology). Furthermore, in the comment section are some comments by Greg Welty on approaching educational choices about what schools to attend if one is a Christian student. Finally, in the comment section is also a great list of books that would make an excellent starter library (I have pasted the list below). 

Anderson suggests, in his blog post, Plantinga and Swinburne as sources to read, not because he agrees with all their conclusions (he does not), but because they stand as worthy exemplars of how to go about doing philosophical theology. Anderson also suggests that a key skill needed in doing philosophical theology is the ability to construct arguments well.  He lists resources to that end. 

At the risk of being overly simplistic, I think one needs two or three years move through 1-6:

  1. Learn a sufficient amount of concepts in metaphysics, epistemology ethics, then wider topics like philosophy of science, language, philosophical theology, etc...  - the topics, the moves, the major discussions. This takes at least two years of near constant engagement if one wants to feel less than completely lost in philosophical contexts. 
  2. Learn how arguments are constructed and how they fail, succeed (i.e. learn some logic). From my experience one does not need to become a logician (whatever that means) but one does need a least a good working knowledge of the basics. 
  3. Watch the pros do their thing in terms of applying (1) and (2) above to more up to date issues and topics.  
  4. Talk philosophy with others who know the field and care about you. This is perhaps the most underrated activity (one I was unable to do much of when I was directly studying philosophy) but that I suspected had a major formative impact on those who could. 
  5. Try writing your own stuff either in a classroom setting or in blogging? Philosophy and theology are done formally in written format. At conferences, they live on the edge and read papers - out loud! Papers are (often as a next step) submitted to journals as contributions to an ongoing conversation. 
  6. Start moving into your own areas of interest. This will drive you back to repeat stages (1) and (2) ... not that you ever stop... as needed for your own work. 

So read Anderson's blog here - 

I've pasted the book list from Greg Welty ... yes, I've totally lifted it from the above blog post largely because it is only a book list and was a posted in a comment. Also many of these (all?) books were already on our site, but this is a nice list for starters. 

Shorter list (Welty's opinion). Last year I created my own shorter list (with pictures!) and you can find it here but below is Welty's list. 

Short List:

  1. Diogenes Allen and Eric Springsted, Philosophy For Understanding Theology, Second Edition (Westminster John Knox Press, 2007) [ISBN: 978-0664231804]
  2. Thomas Flint and Michael Rea (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology (Oxford Univ. Press, 2011) [ISBN: 978-0199596539]
  3. Michael Rea, Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology: Volume 1: Trinity, Incarnation, and Atonement (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009) [ISBN: 978-0199237463]
  4. Michael Rea, Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology: Volume 2: Providence, Scripture, and Resurrection (Oxford Univ. Press, 2009) [ISBN: 978-0199237487]

Longer list:

  1. Marilyn McCord Adams, Christ and Horrors: The Coherence of Christology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006).
  2. James Anderson, Paradox in Christian Theology: An Analysis of Its Presence, Character, and Epistemic Status (Waynesboro, Georgia: Paternoster Theological Monographs, 2007).
  3. Augustine, The Trinity, trans. E. Hill (New York: New City Press, 1991).
  4. Gustaf Aulén, Christus Victor, trans. H.G. Herbert (New York: MacMillan, 1969).
  5. Oliver Crisp, Divinity and Humanity: The Incarnation Reconsidered (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2007) [978-0521695350]. 202 pages.
  6. Oliver Crisp, God Incarnate: Explorations in Christology (London: T&T Clark, 2009).
  7. Oliver Crisp (ed.), A Reader in Contemporary Philosophical Theology (New York: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2009) [9780567031464]. 392 pages.
  8. Oliver Crisp and Michael Rea (eds.), Analytic Theology: New Essays in the Philosophy of Theology (Oxford Univ. Press, 2011) [ISBN: 978-0199600427]
  9. Richard Cross, The Metaphysics of God Incarnate (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002).
  10. Stephen T. Davis, Christian Philosophical Theology (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006) [978-0199284597]. 320 pages.
  11. Steven T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, Gerald O’Collins (eds.), The Incarnation: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Incarnation of the Son of God (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2004) [978-0199275779]. 430 pages.
  12. Steven T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, Gerald O’Collins (eds.), The Redemption: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on Christ as Redeemer (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2006) [978-0199288755]. 384 pages.
  13. Steven T. Davis, Daniel Kendall, Gerald O’Collins (eds.), The Trinity: An Interdisciplinary Symposium on the Trinity (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2002) [978-0199246120]. 424 pages.
  14. Stephen Finlan, Problems with Atonement: The Origins of, and Controversy About, the Atonement Doctrine (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2005).
  15. Stephen Finlan, Options on Atonement in Christian Thought (Collegeville, Minn.: Liturgical Press, 2007).
  16. Thomas P. Flint, Divine Providence: The Molinist Account (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1998).
  17. Thomas Flint and Michael Rea (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical Theology (Oxford Univ. Press, 2011) [ISBN: 978-0199596539]
  18. Paul Helm, The Divine Revelation: The Basic Issues (Vancouver, BC: Regent College Publishing, 2004 [1986]) [978-1573833042]. 164 pages.
  19. John Hick, The Metaphor of God Incarnate (Westminster: John Knox Press, 1993).
  20. Hud Hudson, A Materialist Metaphysics of the Human Person (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001).
  21. John Leslie, Immortality Defended (Malden, Massachusetts: Blackwell Publishing, 2007).
  22. Thomas McCall, Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism?: Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmanns, 2010).
  23. Thomas V. Morris, The Logic of God Incarnate (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1986).
  24. Thomas V. Morris (ed.), Philosophy and the Christian Faith (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988).
  25. John Perry, A Dialogue on Personal Identity and Immortality (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1978).
  26. Alvin Plantinga, ch. 12 of Warranted Christian Belief (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2000) [978-0195131932]. 528 pages.
  27. Michael Rea (ed.), Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology – Volume I: Trinity, Incarnation, Atonement (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009) [978-0199237463]. 384 pages.
  28. Michael Rea (ed.), Oxford Readings in Philosophical Theology – Volume II: Providence, Scripture, and Resurrection (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2009) [978-0199237487]. 448 pages.
  29. Eleanor Stump (author), Thomas Flint (ed.), Hermes and Athena: Biblical Exegesis and Philosophical Theology (University of Notre Dame Studies in the Philosophy of Religion, 7) (Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 1993) [978-0268011000].
  30. Richard Swinburne, The Christian God (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994).
  31. Richard Swinburne, Responsibility and Atonement (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989).
  32. Richard Swinburne, Revelation: From Metaphor to Analogy (Second Edition) (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 2007) [978-0199212477]. 376 pages.
  33. Charles Taliaferro, The Cambridge Companion to Christian Philosophical Theology (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2009) [978-0521730372]. 288 pages.
  34. Kathryn Tanner, Jesus, Humanity, and the Trinity (Minneapolis, Minn.: Fortress Press, 2001).
  35. Nicholas Wolterstorff, Divine Discourse: Philosophical Reflections on the Claim that God Speaks (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995) [978-0521475570]. 340 pages.