A scene from The Canterbury Psalter (12th century)

Philanthropia (Williams, 1665)

Paul prays (Eph 3:19) for believers “to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge.” This “orthodox paradox” is the subject of a 1665 book by a Puritan named Peter Williams (1625-1680), with the title Φιλανθρωπια [philanthropia], or the Transcendency of Christs Love Towards the Children of Men. (Google Books scan is not uniformly legible; EEBO TCP text has some significant gaps and gaffes.)

It’s a 275-page expansion of the theme, and though it starts with quite detailed exposition (even text-critical considerations), it spreads out into a survey that includes doctrinal theology and (what we would now call) biblical theology. This is Williams’ first book, and he is eager to quote from respected sources. His range of reading is impressive, the quotations are usually aptly chosen, and those other voices that he channels (in the main text or the packed margins) must make up half of the book’s bulk.

There’s not much information about this Peter Williams on the open internet today, so I’m posting here what I found, to update later. Williams (1625-1680) was born in York and lectured there in the house of a noble lady.

Speaking of updating later, I’ll be back to expand this blog post with some notes on Eph 3:19 from the book later. Lots of great stuff. Let’s just say things get Transcendent.

About This Blog

Fred Sanders is a theologian who tried to specialize in the doctrine of the Trinity, but found that everything in Christian life and thought is connected to the triune God.

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