Pathways of Wisdom

This is a fine book from a fine evangelical scholar. Authored by Bp Maurice Sinclair, formerly Anglican missionary bishop of Northern Argentina, this text grapples with ‘what happens when the wisdom of man, as expressed in schools of philosophy down the ages, meets the wisdom of God, as revealed in Scripture’ (p13).

Sinclair takes us on a journey through Greek, Roman, Arab and Enlightenment philosophical questions, and how they are answered in Christianity. It is comprehensive in what it does, although there are gaps. One limitation that the author concedes is a lack of engagement with eastern philosophical traditions, but to do so would likely have doubled the size of this book and make it a little more daunting than it is.

For Christians who have an interest in philosophy, both in the philosophical background to Christian faith and the issues historical philosophy raises, this text will be a very helpful and satisfying addition to the area. It’s probably not the sort of text that you would take on your holiday for a light read, but it’s also not an obscure opaque tome. It’s well written, with a very comprehensive timeline of thinkers to help the reader know where they are in relation to other philosophical developments. A few diagrams in the text also help to make the thinking more accessible.

While you should never do this with a novel, I found it helpful to read the final summarising chapter after the introduction, as a way to grasp the overall thrust of the text. With this knowledge I was equipped to read with better understanding the individual chapters. This approach wouldn’t be necessary for all readers, and this isn’t a difficult to read book, rather it’s a big subject area to follow.

Admittedly not for the fainthearted, this is a good text that engages with a complex subject area in a way that takes the philosophical challenges very seriously and remains true to Scripture. Students will certainly find it very useful, but any with an interest in philosophy will benefit from it; the perfect Christmas present for your friend who is philosophically minded but sceptical of Christianity. In an era where Christianity is still perceived by some as intellectually shallow, Pathways of Wisdom will further demonstrate the intellectual robustness of the evangelical faith.

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