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The Paul L. Holmer Papers (3 vols.)

by Holmer, Paul L.

Wipf & Stock 2012

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Gathering Interest
The Paul L. Holmer Papers (3 vols.)
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Overview

Paul L. Holmer made important contributions to recent American theology, and was much in demand as a public speaker and preacher. Though best known for his essays in The Grammar of Faith, Holmer penned numerous other interesting and original essays, many of them unpublished, which circulated widely during his tenure at Yale. In 2005, the Holmer family donated his papers to the Yale Divinity School Library; in reviewing Holmer’s papers, the editors chose a selection of his most seminal essays (beyond those in The Grammar of Faith) demonstrating the breadth and range of his contributions. This collection presents The Paul L. Holmer Papers in three volumes, providing a study on Kierkegaard and various sermons, essays, and addresses.

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Key Features

  • Provides a study of Kierkegaard
  • Explores Paul L. Holmer’s thought
  • Includes a selection of Holmer’s sermons, addresses, and prayers

Individual Titles

Volume 1: On Kierkegaard and the Truth

  • Editors: David J. Gouwens and Lee C. Barrett
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 342

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

Among his many accomplishments, Paul L. Holmer was one of the most significant American students of Kierkegaard of his generation. Although written in the 1950s and 1960s, Holmer’s theological and philosophical engagement with Kierkegaard challenges much in the contemporary scholarly discussions of this important thinker. Unlike many, Holmer refuses reductionist readings that tie Kierkegaard to any particular “school.” He likewise criticizes biographical readings of Kierkegaard, much in vogue recently, seeing Kierkegaard rather as an indirect communicator aiming at his reader’s own ethical and religious capacities. Holmer also rejects popular existentialist readings of Kierkegaard, seeing him as an analyzer of concepts, while at the same time denying that he is a “crypto-analyst.” Holmer criticizes the attempt to construe Kierkegaard as a didactic religious thinker, appreciating Kierkegaard’s “cool” descriptive objectivity and his ironic and stylistic virtuosity. In his important reading of Kierkegaard on truth, Holmer pits Kierkegaard against those who see truth empirically, idealistically, or relativistically. Holmer’s carefully textured account of Kierkegaard’s conceptual grammar of truth in ethical and religious contexts, 50 years after it was penned, addresses immediately current discussions of truth, meaning, reference, and realism versus antirealism, relativism, and hermeneutics. It will be of great interest to all interested in Kierkegaard and his importance for contemporary theology and philosophy.

Paul L. Holmer was and is still a largely unheralded Kierkegaard scholar and analytic philosopher. This volume, and the collected works series it introduces, should do a lot to correct that oversight in both fields. We owe the editors, both of whom were Holmer’s students, a great deal of thanks for their labor of love.

—Robert L. Perkins, philosophy professor emeritus, Stetson University

Paul Holmer was one of the most interesting and original religious thinkers in mid-twentieth-century America, yet he is little known today. Søren Kierkegaard was his central scholarly interest and his unusual and provocative reading of Kierkegaard is important.

—David Kelsey, lecturer in theology, Yale Divinity School

Almost 50 years ago, Paul Holmer finished a manuscript about Kierkegaard but then left it unpublished. Instead, emulating Socrates, Holmer spent the following decades focused on encouraging Yale Kierkegaard students to examining their own lives with intellectual rigor. The result was a revolution in American Kierkegaard scholarship . . .

—Andrew J. Burgess, professor, The University of New Mexico

With the two-hundredth anniversary of Kierkegaard’s birth approaching in 2013, what a treat to have Paul L. Holmer’s long awaited and now posthumous On Kierkegaard and the Truth to clarify Kierkegaard’s status as a philosopher and the role of logic and reason in his thought. A master philosopher and teacher himself, Holmer knew how to cut to the very essence of a thinker’s thought, as he does here with Kierkegaard’s.

—Sylvia Walsh, scholar in residence, Stetson University

Professor Paul L. Holmer was the doyen of Kierkegaard studies for much of the later part of the twentieth century. His jargon-free writings are crisp, clear, epiphanic, and always in earnest . . .

—Gordon Marino, professor, St. Olaf College

David J. Gouwens is a professor of theology at Brite Divinity School. He is the author of Kierkegaard’s Dialect of the Imagination and Kierkegaard as Religious Thinker.

Lee C. Barrett is Stager Professor of Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Heidelberg Catechism, Foundations of Modern Theology: Kierkegaard, and co-editor of Kierkegaard and the Bible.

Volume 2: Thinking the Faith with Passion: Selected Essays

  • Editors: David J. Gouwens and Lee C. Barrett
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 374

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In the second volume of The Paul L. Holmer Papers, the editors present pieces that illuminate four significant areas of Holmer’s contributions: essays on Kierkegaard; essays on Wittgenstein; theology, understanding, and faith; and emotions, passions, and virtues. Taken together, these essays invite in-depth exploration of the thought of this important American philosophical theologian.

Disciplined by a careful, undogmatic appropriation of Wittgenstein’s later achievements, Paul Holmer may just be the best balanced and most plainspoken expositor of Kierkegaard’s ethical-religious thought in the English language to date. Holmer was an outstanding teacher, and this collection is a treasure for those privileged to hear his lectures and for those who did not.

—Robert L. Perkins, professor emeritus of philosophy, Stetson University, DeLand, Florida

This collection of previously published and unpublished essays by Paul L. Holmer on a wide range of topics demonstrates his incisive thought and writing on some of the perplexing ‘knots of understanding’ in philosophy and theology, which he sought to untie with exceptional acuity and conceptual clarity by way of Kierkegaard, Wittgenstein, and his own pioneering efforts in the rehabilitation of virtue ethics in our time.

—Sylvia Walsh, scholar in residence, Stetson University

David J. Gouwens is a professor of theology at Brite Divinity School. He is the author of Kierkegaard’s Dialect of the Imagination and Kierkegaard as Religious Thinker.

Lee C. Barrett is Stager Professor of Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Heidelberg Catechism, Foundations of Modern Theology: Kierkegaard, and co-editor of Kierkegaard and the Bible.

Volume 3: Communicating the Faith Indirectly: Selected Sermons, Addresses, and Prayers

  • Editors: David J. Gouwens and Lee C. Barrett
  • Publication Date: 2012
  • Pages: 198

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7

In the third volume of The Paul L. Holmer Papers, the reader will see Holmer’s deep concern with the problems and possibilities of the sermon, liturgy, ministry, and spirituality. Inspired by Søren Kierkegaard’s reflections on “indirect communication,” a communication not of knowledge but of human capacity, Holmer not only reveals his strenuous reflection on the sermon, but also gives concrete examples of his own efforts to communicate, enabling his hearers and readers to “make sense” of their lives. In the second part of this volume, the reader sees Holmer’s own challenging, uncompromising practice of religious and Christian communication, in a selection of his sermons, addresses, and prayers. For anyone concerned with sermons, liturgy, spirituality, and the challenges of ministry, Holmer's essays and addresses will prove indispensable.

This volume is such a gift to those of us who loved Paul Holmer and were shaped by his thought. It is a thrill to hear his distinctive voice again in these pages. This book may be an even greater gift to those who have never read or heard Holmer. Now you will get to see what all the fuss is about. Be forewarned, however: do not open this book casually. You might be forever changed as well.

—Martin B. Copenhaver, senior pastor, Wellesley Congregational Church

Paul Holmer took up Kierkegaard’s emphasis on the decisiveness of the ‘how’ over the ‘what,’ inviting the indirection so rightly registered in the book’s title. A central expression of ‘how’ is insistence upon compassion as chaperone, guardian, and custodian of learning.

—David Cain, distinguished professor of religion, University of Mary Washington

Holmer is both philosopher and theologian, providing sage advice for anyone who loves the church. The sermons, most of which are appropriately based on some letter of St. Paul, advise the church on a variety of pitfalls on the path of the Christian life, urging steadfastness against worldliness, reminding us of the power of the consciousness of immortality, and making clear the place of thought in the Christian life.

—Ronald E. Hustwit Sr., professor of philosophy, The College of Wooster

David J. Gouwens is a professor of theology at Brite Divinity School. He is the author of Kierkegaard’s Dialect of the Imagination and Kierkegaard as Religious Thinker.

Lee C. Barrett is Stager Professor of Theology at Lancaster Theological Seminary. He is the author of The Heidelberg Catechism, Foundations of Modern Theology: Kierkegaard, and co-editor of Kierkegaard and the Bible.

Product Details

  • Title: The Paul L. Holmer Papers
  • Author: Paul L. Holmer
  • Publisher: Wipf & Stock
  • Volumes: 3
  • Pages: 914

About Paul L. Holmer

Paul L. Holmer (1916-2004) was a product of Salem Covenant Church in Minneapolis. As a graduate student at Yale University during the Second World War, Paul Holmer’s thesis on Nietzsche was impounded with a government clamp-down on his Kantian (and supposedly pro-German) Professor Ernst Cassirer. Holmer easily took another topic, finished his PhD, and returned to the University of Minnesota where he taught for 14 years. In 1960, he went back to Yale as a professor of philosophy and theology, teaching for 26 years—a brilliant 40-year career doing what he had mastered and what he loved. Paul Holmer wrote a half dozen books, many articles, and was highly regarded as a brilliant teacher.