New in September

Theologies of Failure

Edited by Roberto Sirvent and Duncan B. Reyburn

Out on 24/09/2020

What does failure mean for theology? In the Bible, we find some unsettling answers to this question. We find lastness usurping firstness, and foolishness undoing wisdom. We discover, too, a weakness more potent than strength, and a loss of life that is essential to finding life. Jesus himself offers an array of paradoxes and puzzles through his life and teachings. He even submits himself to humiliation and death to show the cosmos the true meaning of victory. As David Bentley Hart observes, ‘Most of us would find Christians truly cast in the New Testament mould fairly obnoxious: civically reprobate, ideologically unsound, economically destructive, politically irresponsible, socially discreditable, and really just a bit indecent.’

By incorporating the work of scholars engaging with a range of frameworks within the Christian tradition, Theologies of Failure offers a unique and important contribution to understanding and embracing failure as a pivotal theological category. As the various contributors highlight, it is a category with a powerful capacity for illuminating our theological concerns and perspectives, it frees us to see old ideas in a brand-new light, and helps to foster an awareness of ideas that certain modes of analysis may have obscured from our vision. Theologies of Failure invites readers to consider how both theology and failure can help us ask new questions, discover new possibilities, and refuse the ways of the world.

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Resurrection in Retrospect: A Critical Examination of the Theology of N.T. Wright

By Peter Carnley

Out on 24/09/2020

In 2003, the British New Testament scholar N.T. Wright published The Resurrection of the Son of God, arguing vigorously that the Resurrection of Christ should be handled purely as a historical event, subjected to historical reason and critical-historical research. Resurrection in Retrospect examines Wright’s arguments, demonstrating the flaws in the view that the Resurrection should be understood essentially as Jesus’ return from the dead to this world of space and time in a material and physical body, and asserting that it is a ‘mystery of God’, which must necessarily be appropriated, not by reason alone, but by faith. Evidence relating to a past occurrence can be known only retrospectively, yet Easter faith has to do with apprehending in the present a concretely experienced reality, which Saint Paul called ‘the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:2).

An epistemology of the identification of the Spirit in faith as the living presence of Christ can be found in the companion volume: The Reconstruction of Resurrection Belief.

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The Reconstruction of Resurrection Belief

by Peter Carnley

Out on 24/09/2020

While its companion volume, The Resurrection in Retrospect, addresses the inadequacies of an approach to the Resurrection of Christ purely as an event of past historical time, The Reconstruction of Resurrection Belief articulates an alternative understanding of Resurrection faith as essentially a response of trust based upon a knowledge by acquaintance with the living presence of Christ today.

In the hope that it may have some traction in an increasingly secular world of contemporary scientific realism, Carnley demonstrates an understanding of the nature of Resurrection faith in the language of today, with as much logical coherence as possible, and explains how the claim that the animating Spirit of the Christian community that Saint Paul spoke of as ‘the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus’ (Romans 8:2) may be justifiably identified in faith today as ‘the living presence of Jesus of Nazareth.’

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Towards Reconciliation: Understanding Violence and the Sacred after René Girard

By Paul Gifford

Paperback out on 24/09/2020

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.

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