What Kind of a Name Is Vanhoozer?


In my now 5 years as a student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, I’ve always wanted to ask Kevin Vanhoozer that question. Where in the world does that name come from and what does it mean? Vanhoozer. If he wasn’t such an incredible genius, I think he would’ve done well in the vacuum cleaner business. Can’t you just see that stamped on the side of a vacuum? “Vanhoozer. Nothing sucks like this.

I was only able to take one course from Vanhoozer at Trinity (although I sat in on as many random lectures and seminars as I could), but in the span of that brief 3-month course, he succeeded in changing the way I think about just about everything. He is always interesting and insightful and never disappoints. His book The Drama of Doctrine, which won a bunch of awards a year ago, and which may be his magnum opus, is worth its weight in… well, you know how that cliche goes.

Vanhoozer has written a foreword for the recent Kapic and Taylor edited volume of Communion with the Triune God, by John Owen (my son’s namesake). I haven’t read the book yet – I am waiting to read it whilst enjoying the mountains of Montana at the end of the month – but I did read the forward this morning. I doubt I will be able to persuade many readers of this blog to pick up a book by John Owen, since it certainly is some of the most difficult (though brilliant and marvelous) theological reading available, but maybe I can sneak him in through the back door by convincing some of you to purchase the book simply for Vanhoozer’s brief comments. They’re the worth the price of the book, in my opinion. Then, if you get around to it, you might give Owen a read as well.

Two quotes by way of tempting you:

“…Owen’s approach to the doctrine of the Trinity is impressive indeed. Owen walks a fine line that balances the oneness and the threeness, emphasizing our communion ‘with each person distinctly’ while at the same time insisting that to commune with each person is to commune with the one God. Perhaps one advantage of Owen’s approach over more than a few contemporary approaches is that he is able to preserve the distinctness of the Father’s love while simultaneously focusing on Christ as the one alone who makes it known” (CWTG, 11).

“Christianity, it has been said, is not a religion but a personal relation. Owen agrees that theology is relational, but his account of our relation with God bears little resemblance either to the casual way in which it sometimes gets played out in dumbed-down theology and worship [see my 9/24 post] or to the reductionistic way it gets worked out in wised-up theology…which views the God-humanity relation in terms of flattened-out mutuality” (12).


3 thoughts on “What Kind of a Name Is Vanhoozer?”

  1. I actually got myself curious and discovered that Vanhoozer just means “from Husum,” the town
    on the Zuyder Zee, Holstein Holland. Not as interesting as I’d hoped.

  2. You’re such a tease… I went to get the PDF copy and under the instructions in obtaining the aforementioned, I read “Crossway will email you a PDF of the book. They won’t send out any more PDFs after October 1, however.” Hmmm, punk. Guess I’ll have to actually venture to the bookstore! Also, I think a career in the vacuum industry would have been much more of a tell-all than the town on the Zuyder Zee… ~Jods.

  3. Sorry, friends, my mistake. I guess they’re not sending the free PDFs out anymore. My bad. Still, you can get the book for $14 on Amazon. That’s money well spent.

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