Peter Hiett interviews David Bentley Hart

Peter Hiett interviews Orthodox theologian and philosopher, David Bentley Hart, on his new book That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation.


David Bentley Hart: That All Shall be Saved

That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation (Yale University Press 2019). 232 pages.

Orthodox theologian and philosopher David Bentley Hart’s book on universal salvation is arguably the most talked-about book on the subject for years. It is also one of the most head-on defenses of soteriological universalism to hit the mainstream theological audience worldwide.

For those acquainted with the topic, many of Hart’s arguments are classics, based on biblical and theological reasoning, but Hart goes furthest in developing a moral argument for universal salvation based on the fundamental goodness of God. Personally, I did not give much weight to such arguments before, but Hart convincingly argues, that if God is truly good and loving (even requiring us to love our enemies as he himself does!), this must mean the final salvation of all.

Much have been said already on the book (see e.g. the many positive reviews of the book on Eclectic Orthodoxy). I wont add more here, but simply recommend the book. For anyone interested in the topic, this is a must read.



David Bentley Hart: The New Testament – a Translation

David Bentley Hart, The New Testament (Yale University Press 2018)

For a long time few options have been available for those who wanted an alternative to the often dogmatically laden Bible translations commonly available in English (and many other languages)

In his new as-literal-as-it-gets translation of the New Testament, Orthodox scholar David Bentley Hart, seeks to remedy this by translating “as if no doctrine were given”. The result is a version of the New Testament at odds with great portions of traditional Protestant theology.

The translation also contains a nice introduction and a comprehensive post-script where Hart explains some of his more controversial translation choices.

Hart opts for translating the Greek words aion and aionion, traditionally translated as ‘eternity’ and ‘eternal’, by words more close to the original meaning of ‘age’ and ‘pertaining to an age’. But unlike, e.g. Young’s literal translation that translates aionios as ‘age-enduring,’ Hart chooses to render aionios as ‘of’ or ‘in’ the ‘Age’.

As with many others who defend a universalist soteriology, Hart argues that what has often been perceived as ‘eternal’ in the sense of being ‘never-ending’ should in fact not be understood so. This means that there are no biblical warrant for the belief in eternal (in the sense of never-ending) punishment:

“[…] in the original Greek of the New Testament, there really are only three verses that seem to threaten “eternal punishment” for the wicked (though, in fact, none of them actually does), and many who are doctrinally or emotionally committed to the idea of eternal torment for the unelect would feel gravely bereaved if the delicious clarity of the seemingly most explicit of those verses were allowed to be obscured behind a haze of lexical indeterminacy. To these I can say only that, if they really wish to believe in the everlasting torment of the reprobate, they are perfectly free to do so, whether there is any absolute unquestionable scriptural warrant for doing so or not; but, then again, even the Greek word typically rendered as “punishment” in that verse raises problems of translation […]” (Hart 2018, p. 541f).

Get it here.

Church History

Is “Origenism” heresy? On the fifth ecumenical council in 553

Origen of Alexandria (184-253)

It might come as a surprise to some, that the doctrine of universal restitution or “apokatastasis”, let alone the belief that all human beings will be saved eventually, has never as such been condemned by any of the ancient ecumical church councils. Sometimes, however, it is claimed that the doctrine was condemned at the fifth ecumenical council at Constantinople in 553.

Also read: Apocatastasis: The Heresy that Never Was