2019 is concluded and a new decade has begun! So what kind of year did Eclectic Orthodoxy enjoy?
In 2018, 158,714 individuals visited the blog; in 2019, 177,872—representing a 12% increase. That’s a an encouraging increase, but perhaps not particularly newsworthy. After all, in 2018 we saw a 20% increase in visitors, largely thanks to David Hart’s review of N. T. Wright’s review of his New Testament translation. But compare the difference in the number of hits: 2018–424,340; 2019–511,780. That represents in increase of over 20% in traffic—very gratifying.
If 2018 was the year of David Bentley Hart, 2019 was the year of … David Bentley Hart. But in a different way. Here on Eclectic Orthodoxy the last four months of 2019 were dominated by reviews, written by various theologians and philosophers, of Hart’s long-anticipated book, That All Shall Be Saved. This was something new for Eclectic Orthodoxy. Thanks to the generosity of Yale University Press, I was able to invite several scholars—Tom Talbott, Shinji Akemi, Roberto De La Noval, Justin Coyle, Taylor Nutter, David Opderbeck, Chris Green, Brian Moore, and Ty Monroe—to write extended assessments of the book (and I am still waiting on two or three more to come in). They did not disappoint. I believe their pieces, both in substance and spirit, represent the best reviews of That All Shall Be Saved to have appeared on the net so far. Thank you, gentlemen, for your good work!
The most popular single articles for 2019:
1. “Gnosticism and Universalism” by David Bentley Hart: 9,468 views
An article by Hart is always a publishing event, and his review (nay, takedown) of Michael McClymond’s The Devil’s Redemption was no exception.
2. “God is Heaven, God is Hell” by Chris Green: 7,895 views
Green’s review was the single most popular review of That All Shall Be Saved and deservedly so. Written in an irenic spirit, Green identifies the critical question raised by Hart: How does the traditional assertion of everlasting punishment not call into question the absolute goodness of God?
3. “If atonement ain’t penal, why the cross?” by Alvin Kimel: 7,156 views
That this particular article of mine on substitutionary atonement should have generated so many hits remains a mystery to me. Maybe it was timing. Maybe it was the title. I don’t know. In any case, it now stands as my most popular article for a single year.
4. “Tom Talbott Reviews ‘That All Shall Be Saved’” by Tom Talbott (I chose the title, so don’t blame Tom): 4,173 views.
Talbott kicked off the guest reviews of TASBS with a four-part series. If we add up the hits for all four parts, we arrive at the total of 8,721, and Tom’s review would jump to 2nd place in the ranking.
5. “That All Shall Be Saved’: An Introductory Review” by Alvin Kimel: 4,012 views
In this “pre-review” I tried to set the stage for the guest reviews.
6. “Apocastastasis: The Heresy That Never Was” by Alvin Kimel: 3,703 views
Originally published in 2015 and revised and updated several times since, this piece continues to generate interest, realizing a five-year total of 15,806 hits. It’s even occasionally referenced by real scholars.
7. “Against Asymmetrical Christology” by Jordan Wood: 3,653 views
This is a really fine, and controversial, review of Rowan William’s important book Christ the Heart of Creation. I confess that I kept hoping that Williams would jump into the conversation thread. That would have been a feather in Eclectic Orthodoxy’s cap.
8. “May Catholics Endorse Universalism” by Justin Coyle: 3,544 views
I’m not sure if readers appreciate the courage it took for Coyle and the other Catholic reviewers (Roberto De La Noval, Taylor Nutter, Brian Moore, and Ty Monroe) to positively engage That All Shall Be Saved. Even more so than the Orthodox Church, the Roman Catholic Church appears to be dogmatically committed to the rejection of apokatastasis. Yet these Catholic theologians felt deeply enough about the topic to publicly make known their convictions. I am proud of them.
9. “Theodicy and Apokatastasis” by David Bentley Hart: 3,455 views
Perhaps the most common concern expressed by reviewers of That All Shall Be Saved is that of theodicy: If the everlasting punishment of sinners decisively calls into question the goodness of God, why doesn’t the massive suffering, death, and destruction of the world also do so? I invited David to briefly address the question, and he graciously obliged.
10. “Manoussakis and his Pear Tree” by David Bentley Hart: 2,596 views
A bit of background is in order. In this piece Hart responds to a review of his book by the Orthodox philosopher John Panteleimon Manoussakis. Ironically, Manoussakis’s review was originally intended for Eclectic Orthodoxy; but for reasons never communicated to me, Fr John decided to publish his review elsewhere.
Looking back over my 2019 articles, I think that what I enjoyed writing most was the multi-part series on Paul Griffith’s book Decreation. The series didn’t generate a lot of hits, but that hardly matters. I learned a lot from the book and am still mulling it over.
I wish to thank all of you for your support of Eclectic Orthodoxy. I bid you a happy and most blessed New Year.