The Gifting God

The Gifting God : A Trinitarian Ethics of Excess

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Theories of generosity, or gift giving, are becoming increasingly important in recent work in philosophy and religion. Stephen Webb seeks to build on this renewed interest by surveying a distinctively modern and postmodern approach to the issue of generosity, and then developing a theological framework for it. He contends that in many ways society has become suspicious of charity and generosity. This cynicism has led to quick and easy judgments, that, in turn, have led to a new orthodoxy with its own troubling consequences. Webb believes that we need to recover the generosity that our culture obscures behind this monologue on self-interest, and that theology, as a form of critical thought, can play a helpful role. Throughout the book, Webb argues for a theory of giving that is other-oriented without being self-negating. He maintains that the generosity of God's grace, properly understood, can reorient our own idea of the gift and must be correlated to our own practices of exchange and reciprocity.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 200 pages
  • 146.8 x 218.2 x 20.8mm | 427.98g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 019510255X
  • 9780195102550
  • 1,075,300

Review quote

Stephen Webb's The Gifting God is a creative and important work of constructive, rhetorical theology...The Gifting God is an engaging and generous work, a gift worth passing along. * Encounter *show more

Back cover copy

Theories of generosity, or gift giving, are becoming increasingly important in recent work in philosophy and religion. Stephen Webb seeks to build on this renewed interest by surveying a distinctively modern and postmodern approach to the issue of generosity, and then developing a theological framework for it. He analyzes two basic forms of such theories: theories of excess, which emphasize the extravagance of the giving act, and theories of exchange, which look at giving as a form of reciprocity. Excess, which Webb calls "squandering", is disconnected from considerations of morality and community. Similarly, giving as exchange reduces generosity to mere calculations of the market. Webb contends that for this reason, in many ways, society has become suspicious of charity and generosity. This cynicism has led to quick and easy judgments that, in turn, have led to a new orthodoxy with its own troubling consequences. Webb argues that we need to recover the generosity that our culture obscures behind this monologue on self-interest, and that theology, as a form of critical thought, can play a helpful role. Through the example of a trinitarian God, who is the Giver, the Given, and the Giving, he demonstrates how giving can be born of excess but bound by a community of responsibility and mutuality - other-oriented without being self-negating. He maintains that the generosity of God's grace, properly understood, can reorient our own idea of the gift and must be correlated to our own practices of exchange and reciprocity.show more

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