Here at James Clarke and Co. we are pleased to be able to share with you all our new reviews from the likes of Reading Religion, Journal of Ecclesiastical History and others. If any of the titles below interest you, please don’t hesitate to click on these links for further information and purchasing options.
‘In this interesting study, Gordon Snider; a professor at Kansas Christian College, sets out to examine if and how representative Wesleyan theologians and missionary leaders used the Old Testament to shape a theology of mission, and how far the outcomes corresponded with distinctive Wesleyan emphases.’
Martin Wellings, Editor for Wesley and Methodist Studies, Book Reviews, Vol 10, No. 2, 2018
‘In this fascinating and meticulously researched study of Augustine’s Cassiciacum dialogues, Mark Boone shows Augustinian scholars a productive way forward for better understanding how these philosophical texts can and should be analyzed both on their own terms and as part of Augustine’s evolving ideas about ancient philosophy and Christian theology. Boone’s work is a valuable contribution to Augustinian studies, and especially to the study of the Cassiciacum dialogues. It is carefully researched, well-written, and easy to follow even by a generalist Augustinian scholar.’
– Jennifer Ebbeler, Associate Professor of Classics at University of Texas, Reading Religion, 21st August 2018
‘A Tale of Two Theologians: Treatment of Third World Theologies is a fascinating book that presents, with a new perspective, how the third world theologies have been treated by the Roman Catholic Church. This book successfully attempts a twin task of explaining this treatment of third world theologies, particularly those that do not fit into Western systems, and offering a comparative study of Latin American and Asian theologies. Mong has beautifully woven together these two tasks in one book without losing focus.’
– Murathuraj Swamy, Director of Cambridge Centre for Christianity Worldwide, Reading Religion, 11th April 2018
Here at James Clarke and Co. we are pleased to be able to share with you all our new reviews from the likes of The Expository Times, The Journal of Ecclesiastical History and Journal of Chinese Religions. If any of the titles below interest you, please don’t hesitate to click on these links for further information and purchasing options.
“Ambrose Mong leaves us greatly in his debt for introducing us to the rich interrelationships, not only between liberation theologies from different continents but also between different faiths”
John Riches, The Expository Times, Volume 129, Number 10, July 2018
These two volumes by the Dominican Ambrose Mong, a priest and lecturer at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, open up a rich vein of reflection about liberation theology and inter-religious dialogue in the non-Western World.
John Riches, The Expository Times, Volume 129, Number 10, July 2018
“Gerald Bray’s critical edition of the Book of Homilies is a welcome addition to the few modern texts available. Bray provides a concise and detailed discussion of the expected critical issues related to all three books of homilies.”
Benjamin J. Snyder, Anglican and Episcopal History, September 2018
“Guns and Gospel is a sophisticated overview of the work of Christian missionaries in China, and it its pages we see a range of human motivation ranging from rapaciousness to charity.”
James Carter, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 2018
“At a time when we are seeking to bring discussions of death into the open in many areas of life, organization, local and societal, it is encouraging to find a book which tackles this area in some depth from a variety of academic perspectives.”
Nell Cockell, Health and Social Care Chaplaincy, Issue 5, Volume 2, 2017
“This delightful volume is full of insights and source materials. Readers are indebted to Elliott for crafting a careful and insightful presence and use in the bible and related sources.”
Timothy Hein, The Expository Times, Volume 129, Number 11, August 2018
“David Lee’s book makes a simple but potentially significant intervention in this field: it argues on the basis of Liu Zhi’s less-studied popular didactic writings that Liu was not mainly appealing to an emergent elite Sino-Muslim identity or the concerns of Sufi mysticism, but rather was engaged in a Muslim apologetics for Chinese audience.”
Erich Schluessel, Journal of Chinese Religions, Volume 46, Issue 1, 10 May 2018
We are pleased to present some reviews from Reading Religion, Theological Studies, Ching Feng, The English Historical Review, The Expository Times, Reviews in Religion and Theology and Journal of Reformed Theology . If any of these titles intrigue you, feel free to check out the links for more information and to make your order.
‘Without judgement or obvious inclusion of cultural bias, the text provides an informative entry point for strengthening understanding of aspects of [Hinduism and Orthodox Christianity]. …. Additionally, and congruous with the topical orientation of the book, the subjects covered are well defined and contextualized, and are given contemporary relevance. …. The appeal of The Human Icon can be found in its sensitivity and appreciation to religious practice, belief, and devotion, and its discussion of influences and commonalities that increases understanding of Hinduism through the inclusion of a discussion of Christianity.’ – Madhavi Venkatesan, Reading Religion, 27 February 2018
‘By outlining the Chinese mission history, Mong draws attention to both global and local forces that influenced the passions, visions, and actions of different Protextant missions, the missionaries’ perception of China as ‘the Other’, and the dissemination of Christianity in a Chinese context …. Guns and Gospel is an essential reading for anyoen interested in Chinese Christianity, interreligious dialogues, and cross-cutural engagements.’ – Joseph Tse-hei Lee, Ching Feng, 16.1-2 (2016)
‘The book has many good qualities and I recommend it. The bibliography is extensive, including opposing or different views, and the text is well organized with frequent summaries that keep focus on the theme.’ – Michael L. Cook, Theological Studies, Vol 79, 2018
If anything can be said about this book it is that is surely has the momentum. …. [T]he book offers a thorough and provocative assessment of four important voices in modern theology on the matter of nationhood and national identities. …. Yet, Moseley shares her praiseworthy concerns and motives, illustrated by her decision to understand nationhood in the context of missiology.’ – Ruben van de Belt, Journal of Reformed Theology, Volume 10, Issue 4, 2016
‘In general, the book gives a refreshingly theological reading and a clear, accessible exegetical argument. It provides a useful resource for thinking about the use of scripture in the NT, even if one disagrees with some of its claims.’ – Katherine M. Hockey, The Expository Times, Volume 129, Number 6, March 2018
‘Unlike some Festschriften this is a valuable (and reasonably priced) collection which is considerably more than the sum of its parts, and a suitable tribute to an outstanding scholar.’ – G.M. Ditchfield, The English Historical Review, Volume 133, Issue 560, 20 March 2018
‘There is no doubt that the transdisciplinary approach of this book to ecclesiology represents a unique and remarkable contribution to the field….[I] would warmly recommend this book to anyone interested in studying ecclesiology. It is not just the innovative perspective that makes this volume an important accomplishment, but also the gathered variety of methodologies and ecclesiological loci which it presents.’ – Petre Maican, Reviews in Religion and Theology, January 2018
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, along with the topic that you wish to cover.
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
In spite of the centrality of the threefold orders of bishop, priest and deacon to Anglicanism, deacons have been virtually invisible in the contemporary Church of England. Inferior Office? is the first complete history of this neglected portion of the clergy, tracing the church’s changing theology of the diaconate from the Ordinal of 1550 to the present day.
Francis Young skilfully overturns the widely held belief that before the twentieth century, the diaconate was merely a brief and nominal period of probation for priests, revealing how it became an integral part of the Elizabethan defence of conformity and exploring the diverse range of ministries assumed by lifelong deacons in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Lifelong deacons often belonged to a marginalised ‘lower class’ of the clergy that has since been forgotten, an oversight of considerable importance to the wider social history of the clergy that is corrected in this volume.
Inferior Office? tells the story of persistent calls for the revival of a distinctive diaconate within the Victorian Church of England and situates the institution of deaconesses and later revival of the distinctive diaconate for women, as well as subsequent developments, within their wider historical context.
Set against this backdrop, Young presents a balanced case both for and against the further development of a distinctive diaconate today, offering much for further discussion and debate amongst clergy of the Church of England and all those with an interest in the rich tapestry of its history.
“Francis Young’s book is a welcome antidote to the generally impoverished view of the diaconate that has prevailed in the Church of England in recent years. It is a timely and significant contribution to the Church of England’s understanding of the order of deacons within her threefold ministry, and will be a valuable and informative tool for those charged with the restructuring of the allocation of church resources in the 21st century.” Dr Serenhedd James, Hon Research Fellow of St Stephen’s House, Oxford
“Young’s scholarship adds much to our understanding of the diaconate within the threefold ministry in the Church of England.” Stephen Platten, in Theology, Vol 119 (2)
“This erudite book makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of the diaconate in the Church of England from the Reformation to the present day.” Gloria Cadman, in The Reader, Vol 115, No 2
Dr Young’s book is available to purchase here now!
Make sure you get your copy to unlock the secrets of the often most overlooked section of the Anglican clergy. Follow Dr Young’s journey in tracing the role of the diaconate from the Reformation through to the present day; clarifying the debate about its future.