reading groups in the sanctorum communio :: Grenz on Tillich

A few years ago, Stan Grenz passed away, and for reasons which remain unknown to me large portions of his theological and philosophical library was put up for sale in the Regent College library. Most of his books were sold for a dollar or two; I remember picking up his copy of Hegel’s Phenomenology of Mind for 75¢. I picked up as many of these volumes as I could, partly because of my respect for Grenz, partly because he had a damn fine theological library.

This week, reading Grenz’s copy of Paul Tillich’s Systematic Theology (a first edition hard-cover from 1951), I was treated to the joy of reading along with Grenz. I never had the chance to meet him in person, but I think I’ve gotten to know him a little bit by reading Tillich in his footsteps.

His underlining is sparse but very even-handed (he almost certainly used a straightedge), and his marginal notes are even more rare. He captures the key passages with a marginal bracket around the text, and seems to be, so far as I can tell, a very careful reader.  Strikingly, he never once expressed disagreement with Tillich through his notation, though there were plenty of passages that Grenz surely found objectionable. Of course I found myself spending a little extra time mulling over passages which he emphasized, looking for some meaning that I’d missed on my first pass.

He never intended it, but he found another way to guide my reading—a unexpected legacy for which I’m the grateful heir.

7 Replies to “reading groups in the sanctorum communio :: Grenz on Tillich”

  1. I just wanted say two thing. One, I really enjoy your blog. Secondly, I can’t believe you’re reading Grenz’s version of Tillich’s ST. That’s incredible.

    1. I picked up most of what I was able to find. Looking over my bookshelves, I’ve got his copy of Aquinas’ Summa Contra Gentiles and his copy of Kant’s Religion Within the Bounds of Reason Alone—which he also purchased used. There may be more, but I don’t have it all here.

      These were for sale back in 2006-2007, so I doubt that his books are still being sold, but I’m not sure on that. Regent sold a lot of books secondhand that were donated to the library but not put into circulation, and incredibly, Grenz’s books were just mixed in with these.

      I look forward to hearing from you in the future.

  2. Eric, what do you think young scholars will think when our books end up in their hands? Given that all my underlining takes place while riding the subway, they will probably just assume I was “hitting the sauce” every single day. They will also most likely think that my notes in the margins were inane and obvious.

    Perhaps I should try to sound smarter while reading.

    NB, this is not to say that people will buy my library because it is *my library*. I just assume that my books will end up in some diasporic state when I hang up the tweed coat. 🙂

  3. This is a good reason to own nothing but paperbacks. In 100 years all our inane and obvious comments will have disintegrated beyond recognition and no one will know how dumb we were all along (assuming they cared in the first place!).

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