Dialogues on the Passion as read by René Girard

Dialogues on the Passion as read by René Girard. Author Paul Gifford in conversation with Revd Greg Bartlem, Vicar of St Peter’s, Wellesbourne.

These were to have been given ‘live’ at the launch event of Prof. Paul Gifford’s book Towards Reconciliation. Understanding Violence and the Sacred in after René Girard , hosted by the Dean of Coventry , Very Revd. John Witcombe. on 31 March, at Coventry Cathedral (St Michael’s House) . The theme chosen was determined by the proximity of Holy Week.

The restrictions introduced by the Coronavirus crisis led to this event being cancelled. However, it was felt that something of Girard’s vigorously original and fascinating thinking, little known in this country, should be made available to a wider public.

Towards Reconciliation by Paul Gifford available now.

Part 1 What is Sacred Violence?

Part 2 Getting the Passion into Focus anthropologically

Part 3 The Christian Meaning of the Passion rediscovered

New in May

Theology as Repetition: John Macquarrie in Conversation

by Stephen Foster

Out on 28/05/2020

“Originating in a series of conversations, this book exemplifies the method of ‘doing theology’ that is at the heart of this seminal international scholar’s philosophy. Using it as a means of bridging the gap between the Christian faith tradition and postmodern secularism, a basis is provided for addressing the crises that address us today. Macquarrie provides foundations by retrieving the tradition, but leaves us with pertinent questions to pursue.”

Vincent Strudwick, University of Oxford

Theology as Repetition revisits and argues for a revival of John Macquarrie’s philosophical theology. Macquarrie was a key twentieth-century theological voice and was considered a foremost interpreter and translator of Martin Heidegger’s philosophy. He then somehow fell from view. Macquarrie developed a new style of theology, grounded in a dialectical phenomenology that is a relevant voice in responding to recent trends in theology. The development of this book is partly chronological and partly thematic, and does not want to be either deductive or inductive in argument, but rather reflects Macquarrie’s phenomenologically styled new theology. The first part situates Macquarrie in relation to thinkers from the radical theology of the 1960s through to the postmodernists of the late twentieth century, while the second part explores the intersection of key themes in Macquarrie’s theology with the thinking of Kant, Hegel, Heidegger, and representative postsecular and postmodern figures, including Emmanuel Levinas, Jacques Derrida, and Jean-Luc Marion.

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Alexei Khomiakov: The Mystery of Sobornost

by By Artur Mrówczynski-Van Allen, Teresa Obolevitch and Pawel Rojek (editors)

Out on 28/05/2020

“Highly recommended. This volume brings to light the great relevance of Alexei Khomiakov to our postmodern context. We are indebted to the continued and frutiful collaboration of Mrówczynski-Van, Obolevitch, and Rojek.”

Aaron Riches, Benedictine College, Aitchison, Kansas

Alexei Khomiakov (1804–1860), a great Russian thinker, one of the founders of the Slavophile school of thought, nowadays might be seen as one of the precursors of critical thought on the dangers of modern political ideas. The pathologies that Khomiakov attributes to Catholicism and Protestantism – authoritarianism, individualism, and fragmentation – are today the fundamental characteristics of modern states, of the societies in which we live, and to a large extent, of the alternatives that are brought forth in an attempt to counter them. Khomiakov’s works, therefore, might help us take on the challenge of rescuing Christian thought from modern colonisation and offer a true alternative, a space for love and truth, the living experience of the church. Alexei Khomiakov serves as a step on the path toward recovering the church’s reflection on its own identity as sobornost’, the community that is the living body of Christ, and can be the next step forward toward recovering the capacity for thought from within the church.

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Persononal Reality: The mergentist Concept of Science, Evolution, and Culture (Volume One)

by Daniel Paksi

Out on 28/05/2020

“Addressed to current controversy concerning the origin and explanation of biological life and human culture, Hungarian philosopher Daniel Paksi aims to establish a coherent, scientifically grounded concept of evolutionary emergence as a more viable alternative to both reductionist materialism(s) and ontological dualism(s), providing a sounder conceptual foundation for cultural meaning. Paksi’s argument draws on philosopher-scientist Michael Polanyi’s Personal Knowledge and Samuel Alexander’s Space, Time, and Deity. Developed in dialogue with previous efforts toward this goal, Paksi articulates a hopeful intellectual vision for humankind in the twenty-first century.”

Dale Cannon, Western Oregon University

Western civilization was built on the concept of God. Today modern science, based on the critical method and so-called objective facts, denies even the existence of our soul. There is only matter: atoms, molecules, and DNA sequences. There is no freedom; there are no well-grounded beliefs. The decline of Western civilisation is not the simple consequence of decadence, hedonism, and malevolence. Modern critical science has liberated us from the old dogmas but failed to establish our freedoms, values, and beliefs.

However, human knowledge is not objective but personal. We are the children of evolution. Everybody sees the world from his own personal point of view anchored into his or her body. We use our evolutionary skills and cultural heritage to recognise and acknowledge the personal facts of our reality, freedom, and most important natural beliefs, respect and speaking the truth. In reality, even science itself is based on our personal knowledge. Only our false conceptual dichotomies paralyse our thinking.

God or matter? There is a third choice: the emergence of life and human persons. This is the only way to defend our freedoms and the Christian moral dynamism of free Western societies.

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Towards Reconciliation: Review by Alastair B. Duncan

Review of Paul Gifford, Towards Reconciliation. Understanding Violence and the Sacred after René Girard, James Clarke & Co, Cambridge, 2020, 148 pp.

René Girard (1923-2015) was indeed one of the most extraordinary thinkers of the 20th Century. His theories were wide-ranging and developed over many years while remaining astonishingly self-consistent. He was a literary critic, which is how he began, but also a historian, anthropologist, philosopher and latterly a biblical scholar. His thought led him finally to be a Christian.

            Gifford’s book is designed as an introduction to Girard’s thought. He begins by establishing that even in our secular society the sacred remains a principle of group cohesion and collective identity, and that we are fascinated and haunted by its relationship to violence as manifested in twentieth century history or more recently in phenomena such as Isis.

Girard’s understanding of the relationship between the sacred and violence, to which Gifford devotes the next chapter, begins with the human capacity for imitation. Since Darwin’s theory of evolution most thinkers have stressed the continuity between animals and human beings. Girard sees a qualitative difference due to man’s much superior capacity for imitation (mimesis). Though that capacity promotes collaboration it also leads to rivalry between individuals and groups seeking possession of the same object, and hence to a dynamic reciprocity which culminates in violence, “in feud, vendetta or crusade” (p. 27). Paul illustrates this by analysing the regression to archaic violence in Golding’s novel The Lord of the Flies, violence which is seen to require a victim, a scapegoat.

Where, in the history of human beings becoming human, do the origins of this sacrificial violence lie (Chapter 3)? At this point Girard becomes what one might call a “theoretical anthropologist” in the way we talk of a “theoretical physicist”: his theory tallies with much physical archaeological evidence but does not, or does not yet, satisfy “the cognitivist preference for verified facts” (p. 56-57). Instead, it provides an overarching explanatory framework into which facts fit. At the origins of human society Girard posits a “founding murder”, not a single event but a repeated act which becomes ritualised as an expression of violence but also as a way of dealing with it. There is much archaeological evidence for the prevalence of human sacrifice: an innocent victim is put to death for the good of all.  As Gifford puts it: “The scapegoat acts de facto as a sort of lightning conductor for the violently destructive energies gathered within the community” (p. 37). By controlling and limiting violence, this repeated ritualised sacrifice permits the development of a distinctively human culture: “a hyperdeveloped, codified, generationally transmitted and renewed programme of group intelligence” (p.41).

In dealing with Girard’s commentaries on the bible (Chapter 4 and the first part of Chapter 5), Gifford stresses that for Girard religion is not “’natural’ (i.e. man-made)” or “’supernatural’ (i.e. God-given)” but that “both things may be – are most fundamentally likely to be – true” (p. 60-61). On this reading, the Old and New Testaments show emergent man coming to a better understanding of God. Girard’s theories of imitation and scapegoating cast new light on the story of the Fall from Eden. In the story of Abraham and Isaac human sacrifice is modulated to animal sacrifice. “Isaiah’s suffering servant” prefigures “the victim figure as saviour: rejected scapegoat of all, discharging the community of all its sins and violence” (p. 71). Yet the God of the Old Testament remains largely “the God of the archaic sacrificial system: the wrathful, retributive and often bloodthirsty Jehovah of Hebrew tribal imagining” (p. 71). The New Testament takes us beyond that understanding.  In his teaching (for example in the Beatitudes) and his actions (for example in the story of the woman taken in adultery), Jesus shows how human beings can escape the dynamic of imitative confrontational violence.  The Passion of Jesus recapitulates the founding murder but transcends it: “Jesus consents to enter into the scenario of the founding murder as victim in order to display that process at work in his people and in humankind and to reveal to all humans its nothingness in relation to the ultimate reality of the love of God” (p. 85-86).

Gifford’s book began life as a series of lectures given at Coventry Cathedral. This explains why the last part of Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 are devoted to the practical topic of reconciliation, the task to which Coventry Cathedra dedicates itself. Girard’s theories promote reconciliation in that they enable human beings of all faiths and none to reflect jointly on their beliefs in a new way. The anthropologist “provides a simple, concrete, but almost infinitely flexible – and therefore always pertinent – ‘grid’ for identifying problems and scanning their active components (negative mimesis, runaway dynamic, sacrificial logic, misrecognition, the mimetic crisis with its contexts and periodicities, etc.). Still more so when the scanning of the problems suggests a counter dynamic of transformation (simple in principle, fruitful in practice and variously applicable), namely, the transformation (metamorphosis, conversion) of bad (negative, hate generating) into good (positive, loving) mimesis” (p. 91). Girard is not necessarily optimistic that on a global scale such reconciliation can be achieved: humanity may be standing before “apocalypse or reconciliation” (p. 107). Yet the peace process in Ireland, as Gifford shows, was partly undergirded by Girardian thinking. And reconciliation between the different Abrahamic faiths may be possible if we recognise “that it is not ‘difference’ that separates us, but the mimetic rivalry we have in common…” (p. 120).

The book is rounded off by an extensive interview with Girard largely conducted by Gifford in 2009.  Covering in a different way much of the ground previously traversed, it shows Girard expressing himself in language that is powerful and accessible. At times Gifford intervenes within square brackets to elaborate on his own or Girard’s words. Occasionally (pp. 133-134) it is not clear who is speaking, Gifford or Girard. In one sense this is true throughout the book. Gifford has fully entered Girard’s world and speaks from within it.  The suspicion arises that before he was struck by a metaphorical bolt of lightning on a French camp site Paul Gifford’s first name was Saul. At any event he speaks with authority. He explores every corner of Girard’s work and counters all criticisms laid against him. The argument is lucid and compelling, enlivened by colloquial images and turns of phrase. This book is a challenging and a good read.

                                                            Alastair B. Duncan

Author Interview: Paul Gifford Towards Reconciliation

“The most stimulating and enlightening book I have read for ages, opening up René Girard in a compelling way.”

-Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus of Christ Church Cathedral Oxford and Canon of Honour of Portsmouth Cathedral

How did you arrive at the title of Towards Reconciliation: Understanding Violence and the Sacred after René Girard?

Backwards! I knew René Girard (at Stanford University, in California).

The most interesting thing in his work ? How it helps us understand something really gigantic which baffles us all: ‘sacred violence’.Think of how we were absolutely phased to see the beheadings and crucifixions of ‘Islamic State’…What on earth…????

 And where does that take us ? ‘Towards Reconciliation’  Because, as we begin to understand where sacred violence  comes from,  we also begin to understand for the first time what getting over it (‘reconciliation’) really means. We see why,  imitating  each other’s desires; we all fall into rivalry, conflict and violence.  It’s all about the psychic ‘internet’ that links us:  already in nature..  Before www and ‘trending’ were ever dreamed of  (think of that!)

How would you describe René Girard’s influence on your thinking?

 Massive. He brought it all together. ‘Mimesis’  (that’s reciprocal imitation to you and me) is what links things up. So for instance:  the baby’s first smile (‘answering’ the mother’s smile) ;  the way the world’s stock markets ‘follow’ or ‘react to’ one other (‘New York sneezes, London catches cold’) ; the fashion industry and internet ‘trending’ (copying models of desire, styles, interests etc – and manipulating them!) ; the way we communicate (‘do you copy that, Red Leader?’); the way we are able to learn anything and everything. It’s all a matter of  imitation.

Are there any points on which you disagree with René Girard?

Not really. It’s very convincing stuff and breath-takingly original. Perhaps he concentrates more than I would on the negative side of mimesis – the shadow side.  But that’s because negative mimesis – the sort that produces two hands reaching out for the same desirable things, getting in each other’s way; falling into tit-for-tat rivalry , conflict and violence is what we least understand. And what we most need to understand!

Has the relationship between violence and the sacred changed in recent times?

 Girard says it has. Primitive peoples had rituals which disarmed the fateful dynamic of rivalry and conflict which threatened their very survival. When things got really bad, they  took a scapegoat victim; and made him/her into a ritual sacrifice to the powers above. It’s the idea of a lightning conductor taking the hit, turning aside that fearsome thunderbolt that would have destroyed the community as a whole. To ‘sacrifice’ – in that primitive sense –  is to  ‘fabricate the  sacred’. That’s mythical of course: you can’t buy off catastrophe with bloody sacrifices (though you do pacify the conflicts… for a while)

 Now, we no longer believe in the power of rituals like that. So we’re entirely exposed to lightning striking our entire house! In the shape FOR INSTANCE of: Coronavirus; climate change, floods and droughts; nuclear accident; wars between  the Haves and Have-nots…There’s an awesome lot we need to be protected from! And what do we have to protect us? Or for transforming the game (that’s another way to see ‘Reconciliation’)?

How has René Girard informed your perspective on the Passion of Christ?

Well, Girard sees it, precisely, as God’s way of ‘transforming the game’.  God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself ‘(as Apostle Paul says) . In a sense Jesus ‘takes the hit’; but the hit doesn’t come from God.(that’s a human misconception: we project our violence onto God) – and there’s  no transaction (we really must stop thinking of Jesus bargaining with God – or doing a ‘Deal’ Donald Trump-style, so as to let us off the hook!). The hit   comes from our own (blind, self-mystifying – ‘sacred’!)  – human violence: ‘They know not that they do’.

The Passion of Christ (His suffering for the world) teaches us to slip out from under that human self-mystification involved in sacred violence. It makes peace truly – without mystification. It gives us a new – and adequate – model for putting things right. And the Resurrection tells us God is in it.

Yes, the  Passion does defeat evil on a cosmic scale. When He welcomes back the first batch of 72 disciples sent out to pioneer His mission without Him, Jesus for the first time, I think — contemplates his own self- sacrificial death: ‘I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven’. Satan is the founding murder – sacred violence as foundation for our culture, our civilisation and our world. He’ll take the hit; but Satan will fall to earth, broken in his prestige, and in his hold over God’s creation.

Where do you anticipate Girard’s legacy being most apparent?

Well, he himself says he wants increasingly his work to be an argument in favour of Christianity, which is set aside, he thinks, very superficially and foolishly, by modern people. It’s what we most need!

But the fact is that it is.also . universal: you get to know why your baby smiles; why your money disappears, why governments are ‘faking it’; why Darwin isn’t the end of Christianity, but an unrecognised worker in its vineyard…It’ll tell you where real hope lies,  etc

In which aspects of everyday life could Girard’s insight be of greatest value?

 Personal relations; social interactions ; seeing the opportunity in the present Coronavirus crisis…’Redeeming’  the world for  our children and grandchildren

What does your writing process consist of?

Copy and paste, really. You ‘copy’ other writings (register them inwardly); then you  re-write (‘reciprocate’) in kind, but creatively, incorporating your own response. Then you repeat the process: you ‘copy’ your own insights; and then reciprocate and paste again, rewriting them better!

What are you currently reading?

 One of my own pieces of 2006, on laughter and humour. That’s because I used to teach French; and, yesterday,  a French radio station got in touch and said it wanted to  do a week’s broadcasting on humour throughout Europe. I have to say,  in an interview to-morrow whether  there such a thing as ‘European laughter’– or do I think  British humour is different?

What will be your next project?

At least I shall know a bit better, having studied Girard, what it is that I am doing…whatever it turns out to be!

Get your copy of Towards Reconciliation Here

New in April

Notes from a Wayward Son: A Miscellany

by Andrew Walker

Out on 30/04/2020

“The second edition of Notes from a Wayward Son highlights the ground-breaking work of Andrew Walker, bringing together his expertise in sociology and his commitment to orthodox trinitarian theology.”

Pete Ward, Professor of Practical Theology, Durham University

This ‘miscellany’ puts readers around the table with a teacher who has provided the church with wisdom and passion, allowing us to hear an important contribution to the ongoing conversation about the relationship between the gospel and culture. Andrew Walker’s ‘ecclesial intelligence’ and broad interdisciplinary approach to theology and sociology will undoubtedly capture the imagination of many who are curious about the church’s mission in the modern West. Notes from a Wayward Son represents a broad sampling of Walker’s writings from a distinguished forty-five-year career – from explorations of Pentecostalism and Charismatic Renewal to Eastern Orthodoxy, C.S. Lewis, and Deep Church; from the impact of modernity on the ecclesia to mission and ecumenism in the West today. In a world and a church often driven by the latest fashions, Walker’s is a voice to which we will want to listen!

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Come Out from among Them, and Be Ye Separate, Saith the Lord: Separationism and the Believers’ Church Tradition

By William H. Brackney and Evan L. Colford (editors)

Out on 30/04/2020

As a corollary to the 500th anniversary of the Radical Reformation, here is a collection of fresh and scholarly essays that carefully underscores General and Particular Baptists, Black Baptists, Mennonites, Hutterites, Pentecostals, and other Restorationist movements. Taking their cue from the great Brethren historian, Donald Durnbaugh, this nonsectarian volume elucidates the meaning of the Believers’ Church tradition.

Chris Chun, Professor of Church History and Director of Jonathan Edwards Center, Gateway Seminary

Believers’ Churches have their origin in the Radical Reformation of the sixteenth century. Over the past 450 years, the movement has included the Brethren, Mennonites, Hutterites, various types of Baptists, and the Restoration Movement.

The Believers’ Churches together have been characterized by a strong personal faith in Christ, a call to discipleship and Christian activism, a high view of the authority of Scripture, and profession of faith in believers’ baptism. The Believers’ Churches have represented their beliefs in various ecumenical settings, missionary gatherings, and theological conversations. In the late 1950s, representatives of the several Believers’ Churches began to meet in a series of conferences to explore their common views on doctrine, history, and ethics. Topics at the conferences have included baptism, the Lord’s Supper, the nature of the church, and religious voluntarism.

In 2016, the 17th Believers’ Church Conference was held at Acadia University and sponsored by Acadia Divinity College. The theme was ‘The Tendency Toward Separationism Among the Believers’ Churches’. This volume includes the papers presented at the conference and examines the theme from an immediate post-Reformation perspective, with analyses provided by leading historians, theologians, and social science specialists.

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Luther as Heretic: Ten Catholic Responses to Martin Luther, 1518–1541

By M. Patrick Graham and David Bagchi (editors)

Out on 30/04/2020

Ten Catholic critics of Luther and the Reformation come to brilliant light and life in this excellent collection of texts, newly translated into English and crisply introduced. Scholars and students alike of the Reformation and Counter-Reformation will learn from these striking examples of rhetorical and theological hardball played at a furious pace.

John Witte Jr, Emory University

The publication of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses in 1517 immediately elicited responses from dozens of Roman Catholics in Germany and beyond. While Luther’s works and those of his leading supporters have been available in English translation for many years, those of most of his Catholic opponents have not. In order to address this imbalance, win a fairer hearing for the Catholic opposition, and make it possible for students to understand both sides of the sixteenth-century religious debates, translators have drawn on the rich resources of the Kessler Reformation Collection at the Pitts Theology Library to present here introductions to and translations of ten Catholic pamphlets.

Luther as Heretic begins with an essay sketching the larger background for these publications. The editors’ goal is that this book will prove useful for teaching and research and will foster a deeper understanding of the sixteenth-century theological discussions by allowing today’s readers to hear voices that have been mostly silent in the English-speaking world for centuries.

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Top 10 theology books to read as you self-isolate

Although churches and universities have closed their doors for the foreseeable, there is nothing to stop you contemplating the ineffable from the comfort of your home. We at James Clarke & Co have compiled a list of our top 10 books to read during your self-isolation.

James Clarke & Co Top 10

Christos Yannaras:
The Apophatic Horizon of Ontology
 

By Basilio Petrà and Norman Russell (translator)

Learn more about the Greek theologian and  philosopher Christos Yannaras

“By testifying to the superabundance of God incarnate and of the Trinity, apophaticism is the seal of a theological and philosophical reflection that, faithful to classical metaphysics, does not retreat from claiming the value of ontology: theology is actually a theory of being as Trinitarian Mystery. Christos Yannaras proposes a critical reflection on the Church and on its historical forms, that are always inadequate as compared to the free breath of the Spirit.”

– Giacomo Canobbio, Faculty of Theology of Northern Italy

An introduction to the work of the Greek theologian and philosopher Christos Yannaras, exploring the development of his contribution to Greek Orthodox thought.

Publication date: 29/08/2019
ISBN: 9780227177044
Pages: 140pp
RRP: £65.00 (HB), £20.00 (PB, 27/02/2020)
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Ever-Moving Repose:
A Contemporary Reading of Maximus the Confessor’s Theory of Time 

By Sotiris Mitralexis

Thinking about the passing of time a lot recently? You’re in good company…

“This is a really welcome addition to the fast-growing literature on Maximus the Confessor. It is a first-class study of the original texts, but is distinctive in its willingness to bring Maximus’ thought into fruitful conversation with contemporary philosophical discussions, so that the implications of this study will be of interest to many more than Byzantine specialists.”

– Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, University of Cambridge

A study of the theology of Maximus the Confessor, bringing contemporary insights from the Orthodox tradition to bear on his understanding of temporality.

Publication Date: 28/06/2018
ISBN: 9780227176849
Pages: 258pp
RRP: £22.50 (PB)
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Society and God:
Culture and Creed from a Philosophical Standpoint
 

By William Charlton

It’s brand new!

“This wide-ranging book proposes a holistic framework for understanding the human condition. Arguing that we are essentially social beings, Charlton rejects the fashionable liberal individualism, secularism, and multiculturalism of our times, and offers a challenging interpretation and defence of the Christian doctrines of creation, incarnation, and salvation as part of a single continuous creative process.”

– John Cottingham, Professor of Philosophy of Religion, University of Roehampton

A philosophical examination of religion and society, offering a closely reasoned challenge to the dominant Western discourse of secular liberalism.

Publication Date: 30/01/2020
ISBN: 9780227177006
Pages: 196pp
RRP: £65.00 (HB) £20.00 (PB published 30/07/2020)
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Meditation and Piety in the Far East

By  Karl Ludwig Reichelt

Find peace at this turbulent time…

The result of more than forty years of intimate contact with the ‘religious elite’ of the Far East, Dr. Reichelt’s book is a study of a too-often remote and unknown world.

For the western reader this study reveals the life of the East Asia religious communities, their sanctuaries, sacred writings and daily discipline. These non-Christian religions present a massive front of tradition and dogma, which so far the Christian faith has rarely penetrated.

Publication date: 26/02/2004
ISBN: 9780227172353
Pages: 172pp
RRP: £21.75 (PB)
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Accommodation and Acceptance:
An Exploration of Interfaith Relations

 By Ambrose Mong

Mutual understanding has never been more important…

“With his trademark scholarly rigor and intellectual honesty Ambrose Mong explores one of the most challenging issues facing Christianity in Asia today. For him, accommodation and acceptance of Asian religious pluralism is not an option for Christianity but an imperative for its mission. 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

A study of the rhetorical techniques employed by the passion narrative in the Gospel of Luke, and the light they shed on Luke’s themes and narrative sources.

Publication date: 31/12/2015
ISBN: 9780227175187
Pages: 288pp
RRP: £25.00 (PB)
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Jesus and the Cross:
Necessity, Meaning, and Atonement

 By Peter Laughlin

Why crucifixion?

“Authenticity in articulating the redemptive meaning of Jesus’s death is at the heart of this book. The question is: what were Jesus of Nazareth’s aims in undergoing death? Theologies of the atonement generally bypass this question, thus accentuating a split between history and theology. Laughlin’s achievement is to have shown how a critical realist presentation of the Jesus of history can play a crucial role in developing an atonement theology faithful to Jesus’s own intentions.”

– Raymond Canning, Professor of Theology, Australian Catholic University, Canberra

A novel investigation of the meaning of atonement centered on the often-neglected question of Jesus’s intention in submitting to his crucifixion.

Publication date: 26/03/2015
ISBN: 9780227174968
Pages: 286pp
RRP: £20.50 (PB)
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Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period

By John Curtis

Brand New!

The eight essays published in this volume make a valuable contribution to the study of ancient Iran. Covering a diverse range of subjects and written by leading experts in the field, they illuminate aspects of the arts, architecture, and culture of Persia from the Achaemenid to the Sassanian period (c. 550 BC to 600 AD).

– Michael Roaf, Professor of Near Eastern Archaeology, University of Munich

A collection of essays in memory of the curator and scholar Terence Mitchell, exploring the history and archaeology of Ancient Persia.

Publication date: 30/01/2020
ISBN: 9780227177051
Pages: 232pp
RRP: £65.00 (HB)
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Paul’s Non-Violent Gospel:
The Theological Politics of Peace in Paul’s Life and Letters 

By Jeremy Gabrielson

Some calm amidst the storm…

“In Paul’s Non-Violent Gospel, Jeremy Gabrielson asks new questions regarding Paul’s theological commitments and, in the process, discovers new theological resources within Paul’s worldview. This important and challenging work deserves wide consideration.”

– Bruce W. Longenecker, W.W. Melton Chair of Religion, Baylor University

An insightful study of Paul’s commitment to peace and non-violence, exploring the personal, theological and political aspects of his thought.

Publication Date: 28/08/2014
ISBN: 9780227174654
Pages: 216pp
RRP: £17.00 (PB)
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Towards Reconciliation:
Understanding Violence and the sacred after René Girard
 

By Paul Gifford

Brand new!

Allow Paul Gifford to walk you through René Girard’s theories.

“The most stimulating and enlightening book I have read for ages, opening up René Girard in a compelling way.  Here is a wonderfully lucid exploration of the dark side of human civilisation, and a challenge to confront the lure of sacred violence while we still have time.”

– Angela Tilby, Canon Emeritus, Christ Church, Oxford.

Paul Gifford shows that the culture theorist and fundamental anthropologist René Girard has in fact decoded the obscurely ‘foundational’ complicity between violence and the sacred, showing why it is everybody’s problem and the Problem of Everybody.

Publication date: 26/03/2020
ISBN: 9780227177082
Pages: 163pp
RRP: £65.00 (HB); £20.00 (PB published 24/09/2020)
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Way Back To God:
The Spiritual Theology of Saint Bonaventure 

By Douglas Dales

Go back in time…

Bonaventure was a great pastor and preacher, and also a very effective teacher. His writing shows clarity and conviction, and his authority arose from his profound grasp of Scripture and patristic monastic tradition. The force behind how he wrote sprang from his keen sense of the significance of Francis and Clare and all that flowed from them, not least into his own spiritual life and experience as a person of deep contemplative and mystical prayer.

Publication Date: 25/04/2019
ISBN: 9780227176931
Pages: 240pp
RRP: £65.00 (HB) £25.00 (PB published 31/10/2019)
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Bonus Bok

Upcoming title

Notes From a Wayward Son:
A Miscellany

By Andrew Walker

“Andrew Walker inhabits the life of the mind with rare clarity and insight. He probes and tests the dynamics of contemporary Christianity with innumerable shafts of constructive insight, making sense of theological, sociological, and cultural dynamics. He has the intellectual gifts to understand Christians with whom he cannot fully agree in ways that help them and those unlike them better understand themselves. Andrew’s contribution to the academy and the church is profound and admirable.”

– Rob Warner, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive, Plymouth Marjon University

This ‘miscellany’ puts readers around the table with a teacher who has provided the church with wisdom and passion, allowing us to hear an important contribution to the ongoing conversation about the relationship between the gospel and culture.

Publication Date: 30/04/2020
ISBN: 9780227177099
Pages: 363pp
Price: £65.00 (HB) £25 (PB)
Find out more

New in March

Towards Reconciliation:

Understanding Violence and the Sacred after René Girard

by Paul Gifford

out on 26 of March

Why do humans sacralise the causes for which they fight? Who will decipher for us the enigma of ‘sacred violence’?

Paul Gifford shows that the culture theorist and fundamental anthropologist René Girard has in fact decoded the obscurely ‘foundational’ complicity between violence and the sacred, showing why it is everybody’s problem and the Problem of Everybody.

René Girard’s mimetic theory, especially his neglected writings on biblical texts, can be read as an anthropological argument continuous with Darwin, shedding formidable new light to a vast array of dark and knotted things: from the functioning of the world’s oldest temple to today’s terrorist violence, from the Cross of Christ to the Good Friday Agreement. Such insights illuminate superbly (‘from below’) the ways of creation, revelation, redemption – which is to say, ultimately, the Christian enterprise and vocation of Reconciliation.

Here is a novel and exciting resource for scanning the hidden ‘sacrificial’ logic that still secretly shapes cultural, social, and political life today. Girard puts us ahead of the game in the key dialogues required if we are to avoid autogenerated apocalypses of human violence in the world of tomorrow.

Available for pre-order.

The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Nativity of Mary

by Brandon W. Hawk

out on 26 of March

The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew is one of the most important witnesses in Western Europe to apocryphal stories about the lives of Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and Mary’s parents, Anna and Joachim. This apocryphon was also used as the basis for another, the Nativity of Mary, which gained equal popularity. As bestsellers of medieval Christianity, these Latin apocrypha are major witnesses to the explosion of extra-biblical literature in the Western Middle Ages. Despite their apocryphal status, the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Nativity of Mary proved influential throughout the Middle Ages and into the early modern period, as their popularity and influences may be traced in Christian literature, visual arts, liturgy, and theological perspectives still revered by Roman Catholic theologians. These apocrypha also remain significant works for considering the history of monasticism and the cult of the Virgin Mary.

The Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Nativity of Mary draws upon a range of manuscript sources to present comprehensive English translations of the Gospel of Pseudo-Matthew and the Nativity of Mary with full introductions and commentaries, as well as translations of related works with accompanying commentaries.

Available for pre-order.

Hymns and Hymnody Historical and Theological Introductions:

Volume I: From Asia Minor to Western Europe

edited by Mark A. Lamport, Benjamin K. Forrest and Vernon M. Whaley 

out on 26 of March

Hymns and the music the church sings are tangible means of expressing worship. As worship is one of the central functions of the church and it occupies a prime focus, a renewed sense of awareness to our theological presuppositions and cultural cues must be maintained to ensure a proper focus in worship.

Hymns and Hymnody is an introductory textbook in three volumes describing the most influential hymnists, liturgists, and musical movements of the church. This academically grounded resource evaluates both the historical and theological perspectives of the major hymnists and composers that have impacted the church over the course of twenty centuries. Volume 1 explores the early church and concludes with the Renaissance era hymnists. Each chapter contains five elements: historical background, theological perspectives communicated in their hymns/compositions, contribution to liturgy and worship, notable hymns, and bibliography. The missions of Hymns and Hymnody are to provide biographical data on influential hymn writers for students and interested laypeople, and to provide a theological analysis of what the cited composers have communicated in the theology of their hymns. It is vital for those involved in leading the worship of the church to recognize that what they communicate is in fact theology. This latter aspect is missing in accessible formats for the current literature.

Available for pre-order.

The Didache:

A Commentary

by Shawn J. Wilhite

out on 26 March

Shawn J. Wilhite’s commentary on the Didache complements the study of early Christianity through historical, literary, and theological readings of the Apostolic Fathers, seeking to be mindful of the critical while commenting on a final-form text. The Didache includes a brief introduction to this relevant text, the use of Scripture by the Didachist, and the theology of the Didache. The commentary proceeds section by section with a close ear to the text of the Didache, relevant early Christian literature, and current scholarship.

Available for pre-order.