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The Gift of the Martyrs

“Christ crucified must thus remain ‘metahermenutical’; he stands outside modernity, outside the market, outside every human order of power, as a real and visible beauty.  Nor can worldly power ever overcome him in his mystical body, because, again, the very gesture of the rhetoric of his form is one of donation, of martyrdom, and one that the powers of this world can suppress only through a violence that creates martyrs, and so confirms – contrary to all it intends – the witness of a peace that is infinite.  In the time of sin, governed by an eschatological hope that has already been imparted in history but that is still deferred, Christian rhetoric can be only a declaration of witness, and a gift.  A gift of martyrs – which is the name that must, finally be given to the Christian practice of persuasion – can never be returned violently, as the Same; because this gift is always peace and beauty, violence can ‘receive’ the gift, but never return it.”

–David Bentley Hart, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2003), 441-442.


  1. Derrick wrote:

    Beautiful. Im starting this book, along with Jungel’s God as the Mystery this semester (an interesting pair to parallel read) so thats some good stuff to look forward to.

    Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  2. andrew wrote:

    i am currently doing this book, along with two others, for a class on Christ and violence.
    there has been alot of venom for him and anyone associated with the radical orthodox crowd lately. frankly, i don’t care if the guy is wrong, he succeeds at presenting Beauty beautifully.
    thanks for this quote.

    Saturday, January 19, 2008 at 10:09 pm | Permalink
  3. Geoff wrote:

    I think that the book is great. I think the criticisms of Hart are by people who don’t understand the book.

    Sunday, January 20, 2008 at 6:38 pm | Permalink
  4. Hill wrote:

    I’m glad to see people actually reading this incredible book instead of buying in to the “David Hart is too mean” hype.

    Monday, January 21, 2008 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  5. narcis wrote:

    david bentley hart is not associated with radical orthodoxy, just an eastern orthodox

    Friday, February 15, 2008 at 3:29 am | Permalink

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