In association with Ordnance Survey, National Map Reading Week develops the opportunity for the next generation of map readers to understand how a flat piece of paper can show the real world. Map reading also improves spatial awareness in children, and is a crucial life skill for adults.
In recent years detailed archaeological study has shown that in parts of the world prehistoric man had a far deeper understanding of astronomy than traditional historians were willing to accept.
Glastonbury has always been at the heart of legends of chivalry and sanctity dating back for beyond written records, and has long excited the interest of scholars and seers. Yet it was not until the advent of aerial photography that its most dramatic archaeological secrets were revealed.
From studying these photographs and comparing them with detailed maps and the evidence of myth, Katherine Maltwood investigates these exciting discoveries and their meanings.
In this book, she reveals her discovery of a vast and complex pattern of figures in the contours and landmarks of the area. They form, in fact, a huge land chart of the Zodiac.
For more on Maltwood’s Temple of the Stars, author biography, extracts & other Lutterworthy reads, click here!
1. As your new book will not be your first book with us, please could you detail your previous work and inspirations from 2015.
My first book, published by James Clarke & Co., Purification of Memory, is an exploration, from a Catholic and ecumenical perspective, of the theological thoughts of eight distinguished Orthodox theologians. It attempts to demonstrate that, in spite of the mistrust and conflict between the Orthodox and the Roman Catholic Churches, they actually share a common heritage, which can be a basis for reunification. This work provides an insightful study of eight Orthodox theological movers-and-shakers and compares and contrasts them with their Roman Catholic counterparts. Interestingly, I find that some Catholic theologians are closer to the Orthodox theologians than to their own confessional colleagues and vice versa.
The second book, Accommodation and Acceptance, investigates the works of some prominent Christian missionaries and thinkers regarding non-Christian religions. By their innovations, these pioneers in interfaith relations have blazed new paths for better understanding between people of diverse beliefs in a world torn by conflicts and violence.
My aim in writing this volume is to promote interreligious dialogue and greater understanding among various religions. Through their innovation and creativity, the pioneers in inter-religious relations discussed in this work have blazed new paths for better understanding between people of diverse beliefs. As religion has played an important role in politics and international relations, dialogue between different religions has become urgent in the face of globalization and divisiveness and confrontation between the East and the West.
2. Likewise, how have writing these books led you to your forthcoming title, Guns and Gospel: Imperialism and Evangelicalism in China?
The first book is on Orthodox theology and the second on Roman Catholic thought.
I wanted to be ecumenical in my theological outlook and thus, I decided to focus on Protestant missionaries in China during the Qing dynasty (19th century). China is now playing a prominent role in global politics and economics. It is important to understand why the Communist government in China is wary of religious influence from outside and why it seeks to control the churches that are flourishing in spite of years of persecutions.
Guns and Gospel attempts to explain why in spite of so much toil and sacrifices undertaken by foreign missionaries in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Christianity is still a minority faith in China. The book aims at a critical examination of missionary activities taking place under the auspices of gunboat diplomacy and unequal treaties, which eventually increased hostilities of the natives towards Christianity. “One more Christian, one less Chinese,” has long been a popular cliché in China.
Although it failed to win many adherents, in terms of modernization of China, Christian influence was significant. Christian missionaries addressed the issues of education, health care, women’s rights and agriculture. Critical of polygamy, infanticide and foot binding, they fought for the rights of women for equal opportunities. Christian missionaries anticipated the Communist effort in adapting western science and knowledge to reform Chinese society.
3. What does your writing typical process consist of?
I read as much as possible regarding the topic, from journal articles, books, newspapers, and magazines. Then I start summarising key ideas from relevant texts and attempt some kind of analysis by way of comparison or critique. It is a strange process how I start putting the various ideas and views together to construct coherent arguments. Physical exercises like swimming and jogging are very useful for me to have a clear mind to craft my chapter.
Reading as much and as wide as possible on a topic is necessary to provide a good and comprehensive argument. I normally write a chapter that can stand on its own – that it can be published in an abridged version as an article. Thus when I write a chapter I look upon it as an extended essay. My focus is on one chapter at a time. In many ways, writing a book is like running a marathon. I try not to look at the entire distance, but concentrate on running from one point to another, one kilometre at a time.
4. In layman’s terms, what are the main ideas that Guns and Gospel explores?
Going beyond generalizations, the issue I want to raise here is to what extent the missionaries had become lackeys of imperialism. In this work I propose to study individual missionaries in order to examine their positions regarding western military aggression, the opium trade, and the unequal treaties. It is a critical review of Christian missions against the backdrop of the Opium Wars (1839 – 1860), Treaty of Nanking (1842), Gunboat Diplomacy, Taiping Rebellion (1850 – 1864) and Boxer Rebellion (1899 – 1901).
5. Which writers or academics do you think have had the greatest impact on you and why?
Professor Peter C. Phan, who holds the Ignacio Ellacuría Chair of Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University. I am inspired by his dedication in exploring ways to make Christianity relevant to modern times. He is very knowledgeable not just in Catholic theology, but in Orthodox and Protestant thoughts as well. In spite of his great achievements as a theologian, he remains a very humble and down-to-earth person.
Professor Lai Pan-Chiu, a Lutheran pastor, from The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was the supervisor and mentor for my doctoral dissertation. Besides being a good scholar, Prof Lai is a very conscientious teacher. He looks after his students very well, directs their thesis with great dedication and care. After graduation, he tries to find suitable teaching and research positions for them. He is a great influence on my theological outlook. Knowing Professor P.C. Lai has been one of the great blessings in my life.
6. Who do you think the book will appeal most to?
The general public, those who are interested in history, East-West relations, post-colonial and religious studies. This can include undergraduates, theology students, seminarians, priests, religious and lay people, who are interested in broadening their understanding of Christianity as a minority religion in Asia, especially in China.
7. What are the most obscure notions the book explores?
This work examines the precarious and ambivalent relationship between the missionaries and the British colonial government that controlled the territories in which they attempted to propagate the faith.
8. Who are your favourite authors to read?
William Shakespeare, James Joyce, W.B. Yeats, John Keats, George Eliot, and Leo Tolstoy.
9. From your author questionnaire, you detail being educated all around the world; how do you think this has influenced your writing?
My early years in India have deeply influenced my writings. I realize the importance of culture, religious belief or unbelief, and language that conditions our perception of reality and life in general. I am also more conscious of the gap between the rich and the poor, and thus in my writings, I attempt to give voice to the voiceless, the marginalized and downtrodden. I also attempt to provide philosophical and historical backgrounds in my theological reflections. I seek to be open-minded and to understand the thoughts of “others.” At the moment, my research is on liberation theology, migration, religion and the diaspora.
10. Alongside having taking a diverse interest in the world of academia, we would be delighted to learn about any additional projects or hobbies!
I work as an assistant parish priest in the Church of St Theresa, Kowloon. It is one of the oldest churches in Hong Kong. This gives me chance to interact with people from all walks of life. I swim and cycle regularly and enjoy hikes along many of the spectacular trails here. Like many people in Hong Kong, I enjoy dining out. We take eating very seriously here!
Any additional information you would like our readers to know?
I am very grateful to the editors and the staff in the sales and marketing department at James Clarke & Co. for their great help and support. It is a blessing for an author to have such friendly, competent, and dedicated staff behind him.
Ambrose Mong was born in Singapore and earned degrees in English from the Universities of Calgary and British Columbia. He went on to enter the Dominican Novitiate in Seville and completed his philosophical and theological studies at the University of St Thomas Aquinas in Rome. Ordained as a priest in Hong Kong in 2008, he continued to study at The Chinese University of Hong Kong, completing his M.Phil. and Ph.D. in Religious Studies.
At present he is assistant parish priest at St Theresa’s Church, Kowloon, HK, and teaching part-time at The Caritas Institute of Higher Education and at The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
Guns and Gospel: Imperialism and Evangelicalism in China is due for publication 29th November, 2016. For more on Ambrose Mong’s previous titles, extracts and reviews, click to see our author page here.
James Clarke & Co is proud to present a guest blog post from Zoe Hollinger, a PhD student studying the intertextuality and the use of the Old Testament in Hebrews from Belfast.
Review of Margaret G. Sim’s, A Relevant Way to Read: A New Approach to Exegesis and Communication. Cambridge: James Clark and Co., 2016; 136 pages; £17.50; ISBN: 9780227174425.
In A Relevant Way to Read, Margaret G. Sim draws from her background as a linguist and Bible translator in order to provide a brief introduction to relevance theory and its application to biblical studies. Relevance theory originated as an attempt to explain how humans communicate, emphasising the importance of inferring information and optimising relevance. Although some of the insights gained from relevance theory have influenced how linguists translate Scripture, little work has been done on how the theory may benefit NT exegesis. Through her utilisation of relevance theory, the subject of her PhD, Sim intends to provide a new angle through which old interpretive problems can be examined (p117).
Sim’s study can be divided into two parts: the first section provides the theory behind her study (chapters 1-2), whilst the second demonstrates how one can apply this theory to particular areas of NT interpretation (chapters 3-7).
Chapter 1 introduces the reader to debates regarding the nature of communication and authorial intent. In contrast to deconstructionism, which denies that texts have meaning, Sim argues that relevance theory provides a more satisfying explanation for how humans communicate. This is because the very creation of a text implies that the author intends to communicate with her audience (p2). This reality coheres with the basic premise of relevance theory: “The speaker assumes that a hearer listens to what he has to say because she is interested in it: it has relevance for her” (p4).
In chapter 2, Sim begins with a short orientation to the topic of relevance theory, charting its origins in the work of Deirdre Wilson and Dan Sperber, before discussing the main points of the theory and providing a definition of key concepts used: underdeterminacy, inference, metarepresentation, and ostension.
Chapters 3-7 demonstrate the working out of relevance theory by applying it to a number of contentious issues in NT interpretation.
Chapter 3 deals with how the NT authors re-present their thoughts, and the thoughts of others, in their writings. As a result, Sim examines the understanding of NT metaphor and issues surrounding the use of the OT within the NT. She concludes that the expectation of exact resemblance in citations is a modern notion and should be abandoned, and that more weight should be given to the use of metaphor, echoes and allusions when attempting to gain insight into a NT author’s communicative intent (p51).
Sim redefines irony in chapter 4 as “echoing a thought, belief or utterance of another while maintaining a distancing attitude to such an utterance” (p70) and demonstrates the usefulness of such a definition through an analysis of 1 and 2 Corinthians.
In chapter 5, Greek particles are analysed to determine how they can guide interpretation. Sim is rightly critical of the idea that each particle has a fixed lexical meaning and shows, through the use of relevance theory, how these words signal to the reader what the author desires to communicate.
Chapter 6 examines the difficulty of understanding conditional sentences. Sim encourages a move away from traditional categories ‘factual’ and ‘counterfactual’ since the potentiality of a conditional sentence is decided on pragmatic terms. Instead, she focuses on the logical relationship between the two clauses of the conditional sentence in order to provide a clearer exegesis of NT passages.
Chapter 7 concludes the book by providing a summary of Sim’s argument, as well as touching on issues relating to tense and time in Greek verbs. This is not a detailed discussion, however, since the chapter’s aim is to encourage scholars to employ the basic insights of relevance theory in their future research. Sim illustrates and provides support for her arguments with a wide variety of examples drawn from day-to-day interactions, NT passages, ancient Greek authors, and even classic works of literature. Each chapter ends with a summary of the key points dealt with in the chapter. Sim also provides a more substantial glossary at the back of the book as well as further reading for those interested in understanding relevance theory in more detail.
For non-specialists with no previous background in linguistics, A Relevant Way to Read provides a clear and concise introduction to relevance theory. The book is comprehensive in its summary of the main ideas associated with relevance theory, but does not overwhelm the reader with unnecessary information. Sim avoids the over-use of technical vocabulary and only provides enough linguistic theory to enable a biblical scholar to apply it to the text of the NT. Scholars more aware of the intricacies involved in the arguments surrounding relevance theory may protest that Sim has not covered everything that there is to be said about relevance theory, but that is not her purpose (p28), and, as with any short introduction, the book is necessarily selective.
Sim’s book is to be commended for its originality. It sets a precedent for further research into biblical texts, since relevance theory has not garnered the attention it deserves in biblical studies. Nonetheless, the novelty of this theory may mean that some of Sim’s conclusions are open to further questioning or refinement, but the benefit of this is that it invites scholars to interact with how relevance theory applies to specific problems in NT interpretation.
Sim’s attention to the original NT Greek text will appeal to students with a background in Biblical languages, but the provision of her own English translation of each text means that students with little or no grasp of the original Greek are still able to understand the force of her arguments.
Overall, Sim has written an incredibly accessible orientation to relevance theory and its application to NT exegesis, one which will appeal to senior biblical scholars and graduate students alike. It is sure to influence a number of future studies as scholars seek out new and original methods to apply to NT texts.
Zoe Hollinger is currently undertaking a PhD on intertextuality and the use of the Old Testament in Hebrews, under the supervision of W. Gordon Campbell at Union Theological College, Belfast.
If you would like to get involved in writing a guest blog post for either our James Clarke site or Lutterworth Press, we would be delighted to hear from you!
Please send your name, degree title and university to email@example.com, along with the topic that you wish to cover.
Check out the latest review of academic theology title: Shalom and the Ethics of Belief By Nathan D. Shannon (Cambridge, UK; James Clarke & Company Ltd; October 2015; 216 pages; £15.25; Paperback ISBN 9780227175514) published on the website of Reading Religion found here.
“Shannon has done a great service to scholars in unifying the thoughts of Wolterstorff as well as making his work readily accessible.” Gregory Parker, Jr.
A new month is upon us, and that means its time for our monthly special offers! A number of choice titles are available from our website at a discounted price.
September’s 10% discounted titles are:
Postsecularism: The Hidden Challenge to Extremism
By Mike King
An innovative look at how spiritual and secular thought collide and combine in today’s world, charting a new way forward that combines the best of both worldviews. Paperback was £27.00, now £24.30
And another title by Mr King:
Secularism: The Hidden Origins of Disbelief
By Mike King
A timely and fascinating examination of the decline in religious faith and rise of secular thought in western intellectual society. Paperback was £27.00, now £24.30!
Quietism, Dynamic Passivity, and the Void By Trevor Boiling
Drawing on a new translation of the Spiritual Guide of Miguel de Molinos, this is a highly original and wide-ranging discussion of Quietism and its central concepts of spiritual peace, power and passivity. Paperback was £33.25, now 29.93!
And finally, September’s Book of the Month (with a 15% discount) is:
Accommodation and Acceptance shows us a ‘gentle way’ for dialogue, mutual respect and even the ‘holy envy’ of admiration which should be ours in the interreligious encounter of the twenty-first century. Mong’s is an authentic voice and merits great attention.”
Rev James F. Loughran, SA, Director of the Graymoor Ecumenical and Interreligious Institute, New York
‘Mong masterfully shows how Christian faith needs to be reconceptualized in its encounter with Asian religions, from Christology to ecclesiology to Trinitarian theology. This book is a must-read not only for Asian Christians but also, and one may argue especially, for Western Christians.’
Professor Peter C. Phan, Ellacuria Chair of Catholic Social Thought, Georgetown University
Accommodation and Acceptance: An Exploration in Interfaith Relations is available to purchase now! For more reviews, extracts and to get your copy, go to: http://tinyurl.com/zlq9o36