Interactive PDF of The Divine Heartset: Paul’s Philippians Christ Hymn, Metaphysical Affections, and Civic Virtues, plus:

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Table of Contents, Outline of the Book and a Content Sample

Summary of book contents

The fruit of a decade’s research, the Divine Heartset offers a new interpretation of the dense Christological narrative in Philippians 2:6–11, taking inspiration from advances in our understanding of the letter’s Greek and Roman setting and from insights made possible by recently created linguistic databases (such as TLG, PH, AGRW and BDEG). The passage’s praise of Christ engages the language and themes of Hellenistic ruler cults, Platonic metaphysics and moral philosophy, popular (Homeric) beliefs about the gods, and ancient ways of thinking about love (eros). In so doing, it articulates a scripturally-grounded theology in which God is revealed to be one in two persons or characters in a divine drama (God the Father and LORD Jesus Christ).

The volume also explores hitherto unseen ways in which the Christ Hymn (cited in both 2:6–11 and 3:20–21) is tightly connected to the rest of Paul’s argument. The hymn presents Christ as one who fulfills the ideals of Greek (and Roman) virtue (esp. sophrosyne — “soundness of mind, temperance”) and the Dephic maxim “Know Thyself”. As the epitome of the virtuous divine being—and exemplary ethical actor in the human sphere—the story of Christ’s life supports Paul’s summoning of his readers (in Phil 1:27) to a life of praiseworthy civic conduct.

New or recently proposed translations are advanced for numerous words and phrases (in, e.g., 1:8, 11, 27; 2:3, 4, 6, 11; 3:2, 4, 6). And a new, non-Stendahlian, approach to Paul’s boasting in 3:4–6, that is Christological rather than autobiographical, is put forward.

About the Author

Crispin Fletcher-Louis (D.Phil, Oxford) is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Gloucestershire, UK and the Director of Whymanity Research and Training. He has held posts at King’s College London, and the universities of Durham and Nottingham.

Accompanying Resources

To accompany the book, and in the light of its arguments, there is a fresh translation of Philippians here.

There are videos summarising the contents of chapters and sections of chapters here.

The Divine Heartset is part of Dr Fletcher-Louis’ ongoing research and writing project on the origins and shape of the earliest divine Christology. The blog accompanying that project is here.


Wise not to say much else about Philippians or early Christology until you’ve read this.”

Dr Chris Kugler, Houston Theological Seminary

“This brilliant book offers a treasure trove of exegetical insights and compelling contextual arguments for a Pauline Christology of divine desire. Reading the Philippians hymn within the cultural matrix of ancient Mediterranean religion, philosophy, ethics, and politics, Crispin Fletcher-Louis articulates an affective incarnational theology with wide-ranging implications both for studies of early Christianity and for contemporary Christian practice.”

Dr Emily J. Gathergood, Research Fellow, University of Nottingham

“Few can match Crispin Fletcher-Louis for breadth of knowledge, depth of analysis, and originality. Here he weighs into perennial debates on one of the most influential New Testament texts. His startling but substantively argued set of new proposals on Philippians 2:6–11 will be a key element in discussion of the text for years to come.”

Peter Oakes, Rylands Professor of Biblical Criticism and Exegesis, University of Manchester

“Few New Testament passages have drawn as much attention in recent theology as Paul’s Philippians hymn. This major new contribution, as readable as it is original, suggests that we were right to pay attention, but not quite for the reasons we thought.”

Karen Kilby, Bede Professor of Catholic Theology, Durham University

“ . . . the best and most comprehensive case made to date for the hymnic thesis.  I find the case you present more compelling than Martin’s. [The] summary of the evidence, together with the fresh argumentation summoned in support, is a great gift to scholarship.”

Dr Michael Martin, Lubbock Christian University

The Divine Heartset Product Details

  • Formats: PDF
  • File Size: 10.8 MB
  • Print length: 1030 Pages
  • Published: November 2023
  • Digital Edition Publisher: Whymanity Publishing
  • DIGITAL ISBN-13: 978-0-9933172-2-4
  • Paperback and Hardcover Publisher: Wipf & Stock (
  • PABERBACK ISBN: 978-1-6667-4474-3; HARDCOVER ISBN: 978-1-6667-4475-0