Author Interview: John Curtis Studies in Ancient Persia

Meet the former Keeper of the Middle East Department at the British Museum as he answers questions about his upcoming book on Ancient Persia.

What inspired you to write Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period?

This book is a collection of essays in honour of Terence Mitchell. At its core is a long essay by Terence himself. When I became CEO of the Iran Heritage Foundation I promised to try and get this essay published for him, and I hit on the idea of combining it with a Festschrift, and now here it is.

What does your writing process consist of?

I research and write whenever I have time, either during my normal working day or in evenings and weekends.

Who was Terrence Mitchell to you, and how has he influenced you and your work?

Terence was a colleague at the British Museum 1971-1989, and for the last 7-8 years of that period he was head of the Department of the Middle East. I succeeded him as Keeper.

What most interests you about the future of archaeological work in Iran, and the study of Achaemenid Period?

Incredible archaeological discoveries have ‎been made in Iran since the time of the revolution in 1979 and continue to be made. In spite of this, there is still much to be learnt about the Achaemenid period, many aspects of which remain elusive.

To whom will Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period appeal most?

Those with a scholarly interest in the Iranian history, archaeology and the Achaemenid period, ‎and those interested in Biblical studies.

What will be your next project?

I am co-curating a major exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum on Iran that will open in October 2020.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading the Peter Francopan books as I admire the way he paints with a broad brush and puts things into context.

Studies in Ancient Persia and the Achaemenid Period available for pre-order.

New in January

Society and God

Culture and Creed from a Philosophical Standpoint

By William Charton

Out on 30th January

Where should God be in thinking about society, or society in thinking about God? This book shows how philosophy can help non-philosophers with these questions. It shows that intelligence is the product, not the source, of society and language, and the rationality of individuals is inevitably conditioned by the distinctive customs and beliefs of their societies.
Addressing the idea that religion can impede the smooth running of society, it argues that the Western concept of religion is taken from Christianity and cannot usefully be extended to non-European cultures. But any society will be threatened by a sub-society with customs conflicting with those of the whole in which it exists, and Jews, Christians and Muslims have sometimes formed such sub-societies.
Charlton proceeds to consider how our dependence upon society fits with traditional beliefs about creation, salvation and life after death, and offers a synthesis that is new without being unorthodox. He indicates where Christian customs concerning birth, death, sex and education conflict with those of secular liberalism and considers which culture, Christian or secular liberal, has the better chance of prevailing in a globalised world.

Available for pre-order https://www.jamesclarke.co/title/society-and-god/category/forthcoming-titles

Studies in Ancient Persia and The Achaemenid Period

by John Curtis

Out on 30th January

An important collection of eight essays on Ancient Persia (Iran) in the periods of the Achaemenid Empire (539-330 BC), when the Persians established control over the whole of the Ancient Near East, and later the Sasanian Empire. It will be of interest to historians, archaeologists and biblical scholars. Paul Collins writes about stone relief carvings from Persepolis; John Curtis and Christopher Walker illuminate the Achaemenid period in Babylon; Terence Mitchell, Alan Millard and Shahrokh Razmjou draw attention to neglected aspects of biblical archaeology and the books of Daniel and Isaiah; and Mahnaz Moazami and Prudence Harper explore the Sasanian period in Iran (AD 250-650) when Zoroastrianism became the state religion.

Available for pre-order https://www.jamesclarke.co/title/studies-in-ancient-persia/category/forthcoming-titles

Way Back to God

With the recent release of the paperback edition of Way Back to God by Douglas Dales, we thought we’d share with you a little of what its all about. Douglas Dales has published many books titles with us about St Bonaventure, and this latest volume does not disappoint. Way Back to God is a comprehensive conspectus and study of how Bonaventure taught Christian theology and applied it to spiritual life. Here is a taster from the introduction.

From ‘Introduction’, Way Back to God (Cambridge: James Clarke and Co Ltd, 2019), pp. 1-3. Paperback edition now available.

St Bonaventure was born around the year 1217 in Bagnoregio, which is near Orvieto in Italy. He was educated at the University of Paris, where he also taught alongside his friend, St Thomas Aquinas, for some years until 1257 when he was made Minister General of the Franciscans. This engaged him in a relentless labour of teaching and preaching, travelling on foot across the length and breadth of Europe to supervise the growing Franciscan movement. His commitment to this vocation prevented him from accepting the post of Archbishop of York in 1265, but in 1273 he was commanded by Pope Gregory X to become a cardinal and bishop. Bonaventure joined the pope at the second Council of Lyons, where he died on 15th July 1274.

As the leader of the Franciscans during a difficult period in their history, Bonaventure was regarded by many as virtually the second founder of the movement. Certainly all that he taught and wrote was intended to put the memory and legacy of Francis of Assisi on a firm biblical and doctrinal footing. Bonaventure was also concerned to raise the standards of learning and preaching among the Franciscans, in order to advance the mission of the gospel and also to protect the growing movement from criticism. He brought all his expertise and experience as an academic teacher of theology in Paris to bear upon the formation and nurture of those now in his pastoral care.

Bonaventure was unusual in that his mind was both sharply analytical and eloquently poetic in its expression. He also had a formidable memory, especially of Scripture, and there is nothing that he teaches that is not rooted in the Bible. He distilled the wisdom of many who had gone before him, both his immediate mentors in Paris, and the great teachers of the Western Church, beginning with Augustine, whose theology was the paramount influence on Bonaventure’s own. Many rich strands of teaching flow like tributaries into Bonaventure’s thought, notably that of Gregory the Great, Anselm, Bernard of Clairvaux, and the Victorine theologians; also the writings of Dionysius, recently translated afresh into Latin, which exercised a distinctive influence on how Bonaventure structured his thought. To some extent, therefore, he was conveying the wealth of this spiritual tradition to his Franciscan hearers; but at the same time he was transposing and transforming it, as the detailed references in the Latin edition of his writings, and also in the new English translations, make clear. Bonaventure was in every way a brilliant communicator and this is most evident in the many sermons that he composed and circulated as models for use in Franciscan preaching and ministry, and also in his masterly and extensive Commentary on St Luke’s Gospel.

Bonaventure is the most consistently Christ-centred of theologians, and the spiritual goal of Christian theology is never out of his sight. He did not regard the study of theology as an end in itself, let alone a simply academic exercise; nor did he consider it on a par with philosophy. He believed instead what Irenaeus had actually declared many centuries before him: that ‘the vision of God is the life of man, and the glory of God is the living man.’ Christian theology is concerned with the redemption and transformation of human nature by the Spirit of Christ, who became man so that human beings might become divine in him. Bonaventure is rightly regarded as a supreme mystical theologian, in the sense that he believed and taught that experience of the transforming love of Christ is at the heart of all Christian thought and prayer. This love constrains a person, as it did in the case of Francis, to the point of their participating spiritually in the redeeming suffering of the crucified Christ. Then the glory of God descends to transfigure a person, deifying him or her, and revealing that the soul is indeed made in the image and likeness of God and has a profound affinity with Him. Bonaventure believed strongly that human beings are called to become by grace partakers of the divine nature in union with Christ.

Bonaventure took to heart and taught assiduously that, in the words of Augustine at the beginning of his Confessions, ‘God has made us for Himself, and our hearts are empty and restless until they find their rest in Him.’ The loving call of Christ is to enable a willing return to God and this is the meaning of Christian life, thought and prayer; for Bonaventure, love always transcended learning. It is the work of reason to come to understand Christ, who is the truth, by faith as well as by thought, and so to come to perceive more deeply what is revealed by divine revelation in the Bible and mediated through the sacraments of the Church. Bonaventure had a very positive expectation of what could be accomplished by the Holy Spirit in human nature. He himself embodied the truth that he taught, being very well loved as an outstanding Christian in his own lifetime and thereafter….

Paperback version now available

See also from Douglas Dales:

Divine Remaking St. Bonaventure the Gospel of Luke, an introduction to the thought and writings of the Franciscan theologian St. Bonaventure, through his insightful commentary on the Gospel of St. Luke.

“This crucial personal testimony to Francis, who died in 1226 when Bonaventure was still a child, underpinned his vocation and labours as a Franciscan theologian and spiritual writer. In due time it would lead him to accept in 1257 the leadership of the entire Franciscan movement. In his shorter liturgical Life of St Francis, the Legenda Minor, Bonaventure declared that it was his mother’s prayer and vow that led to the miracle of his healing.4 He died on 15 July 1274, while attending as a cardinal the second Council of Lyons.”

August Special Offers!

A number of choice titles are available from our website at a discounted price. Don’t miss this opportunity, the offers will all end on the 31st of August!

Acknowledging the Divine Benefactor: The Second Letter of Peter

By Terrnace Callan

An analysis of 2 Peter using the pioneering socio-rhetorical technique, elucidating Peter’s argument and showing the value of this new exegetical methodology.

Paperback: Was £17.00 Now £14.45


Dust or Dew: Immortality in the Ancient Near East and in Psalm 49

By Janet K. Smith

An examination of how Psalm 49, in the context of Ancient Middle Eastern literature, offers insight into the development of Hebrew concepts of the afterlife.

Paperback: Was £20.50 Now £18.45


Signs of Salvation: The Theme of Creation in John’s Gospel

By Anthony M. Moore

A subtle and original study of the Gospel of John showing how linguistically and thematically the text identifies Jesus with God the Creator.

Paperback: Was £25.75 Now £23.18


Oral Tradition and Synoptic Verbal Agreement: Evaluating the Emperical Evidence for Literary Dependance

By T. M. Derico

A critical study of the evidence for literary borrowing in the Synoptic Gospels, showing that oral tradition may also account for verbal agreement.

Paperback: Was £32.50 Now £29.25


July Special Offers!

A number of choice titles are available from our website at a discounted price. Don’t miss this opportunity, the offers will all end on the 31st of July!

Book of the Month:

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A Tale of Two Theologians: Treatment of Third World Theologies
By Ambrose Mong

A discussion of the challenges of liberation theology and religious pluralism, in dialogue with two leading Third World theologians.

Paperback: Was£25.00 Now £21.25

Special Offers:

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Accomodation and Acceptance: An exploration of Interfaith Relations
By Ambrose Mong

A study of the relations between Christianity and the major Asian religions, exploring the diverse theologies of those who pioneered interfaith dialogue.

Paperback: Was £25.00  Now £22.50

By David Lee

A significant study of the writings of the Chinese Muslim scholar Liu Zhi and his innovative role in contextualising Islamic texts for a Chinese audience.

Paperback: Was £24.00 Now £21.60

 

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The Human Icon: A Comparative Study of Hindu and Orthodox Christian Beliefs 
By Christine Mangala Frost

A contribution to the dialogue between Hinduism and Orthodox Christianity, emphasising important commonalities in thought and practice.

Paperback: Was £25.00 Now £22.50

Latest Reviews for July!

Here at James Clarke & Co we are pleased to be able to share with you all our new reviews from the likes of The Catholic Biblical Quartely andNew Zealand Journal of Asian Studies. If any of these titles interest you, please don’t hesitate to click on these links for further information and purchasing options.

interweaving - shadow.jpgInterweaving Innocence: A Rhetorical Analysis of Luke’s Passion Narrative (LK 22:66-23:49)
By Heather M. Gorman

‘This book is highly recommended to those with interest in the Lucan passion in particular, and in the principles of Gospel composition in general.’

Shelly Matthews, Brite Divinity School, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly vol.80 no.4 / October 2018 pp.726-7.

 

gospel - shadow.jpgThe Gospel of John: Worship for Divine Life Eternal
By John Paul Heil

‘Anyone who is willing to work through the Gospel with H.’s book in hand will undoubtedly have a richer understanding of the subject of worship and the organization, meaning, and purpose of John.’

Paul Jeon, Reformed Theological Seminary, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly vol.80 no.3 / October 2018 pp.529-31.

 

guns - shadow.jpgGuns and Gospel: Imperialism and Evangelicalism in China
By Ambrose Mong

‘This is a valuable volume on this subject and should be on the reading lists for this topic.’

Stuart Vogel, New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, vol.20, no1. 2018, pp.109-11.

 

 

Stay tuned for more reviews soon!

Latest Reviews!

Here at James Clarke & Co we are pleased to be able to share with you all our new reviews from the likes of The Expository Times, CRC Press and others. If any of these titles interest you, please don’t hesitate to click on these links for further information and purchasing options.

 

Ever-Moving ReposeEver-Moving Repose: A Contemporary Reading of Maximus the Confessor’s Theory of Time
By Sotiris Mitralexis

‘This book will be important both to theologians looking to further explore Maximus’ works and their relevance for today, and to philosophers interested in ancient conceptions of time and the way these may challenge our contemporary understanding of physics.’

Emma Brown Dewhurst, Ludwig Maximilians Universitat Munchen, The Expository Times, Volume 130, Number 6, March 2019

 

Mary Sumner: Mission, Education and Motherhood: Thinking a Life with BourdieuMary Sumner
By Sue Anderson-Faithful

‘The Book has a useful timeline, and provides biographical notes on significant women activists of the period during which Sumner lived. There is a thorough bibliography.’

Gloria Cadman, CRC News, Book Reviews

 

 

The Final Days of JesusThe Final Days of Jesus: The Thrill of Defeat, The Agony of Victory: A Classical Historian Explores Jesus’s Arrest, Trial, and Execution
By Mark D. Smith

‘Anyone picking up and either reading or flicking through the pages of this book will be rewarded with a clearer insight of the classical world into which the critical events of the Gospel took root as that world understood it.’

P Mark Pullinger, CRC News, Book Reviews

 

The Artist and the Trinity: Dorothy L. Sayers’ Theology of WorkThe Artist and the Trinity
By Christine M. Fletcher

‘This is a good book to read if you’ve never heard of Sayers, if you already love one aspect of her work (as novelist, playwright, or theologian), or even if you are familiar with all of her work.’

Jennifer Woodruff Tait, Diversity, Future of the Movement, Resource Reviews

 

KempeKempe: The Life, Art and Legacy of Charles Eamer Kempe
By Adrian Barlow

‘One comes away with a sense of the shape of Kempe’s life, an interesting set of insights into his working methods, and, above all, the sense that he’s a considerable artist.’ ‘Adrian Barlow’s Kempe will send people back to the work, with much more background knowledge, with a clearer understanding of how his big Victorian studio worked, and, above all, with new enthusiasm and new eyes.’

Phillip Wilk, ‘Into the Light’, English Buildings, 29 November 2018

 

Stay tuned for more reviews soon!

Latest Reviews

Here at Lutterworth Press we are pleased to be able to share with you all our new reviews from the likes of The Tablet, Country Life and others. If any of these titles interest you, please don’t hesitate to click on these links for further information and purchasing options.

Andrew Young

Andrew Young: Priest, Poet and Naturalist: A Reassessment
By Richard Ormrod

‘Poetry was the linchpin of this formidably well-researched book.’
Sue Gaisford, The Tablet, pg 22, 22nd September 2018

 

 

 

Kempe: The Life, Art and Legacy of Charles Eamer KempeKempe
By Adrian Barlow

‘Adrian Barlow’s book is a scholarly biography of the outstanding and prolific stained-glass artist Charles Kempe.’

John Goodall, Country Life, pg92, 9th January 2019

 

 

Eloquence Divine: In Search of God’s RhetoricEloquence Divine
By Philip Arrington

‘This is an agnostic’s shrewd and clever critique of Christian fundamentalism – but it is also a fascinating journey into biblical literature and the assumptions that are made about it by more critical voices within theology.’

David Jasper, University of Glasgow, The Expository Times, Vol. 130(5) pg231, 2019

 

 

Suffering Romans
By Siu Fung WuSuffering in Romans

‘This fascinating exploration demonstrates that Paul’s audience were very much familiar with the realities of daily suffering. The author has a gift for locating his current argument within his larger argument. This monograph should represent a significant contribution to the field of Pauline scholarship.’
Michael Hayden, Castle Church, Stafford, Churchman, Winter 2018, pg265

 

 

C.S. Lewis at Poets' CornerC.S. Lewis at Poets’ Corner
By Michael Ward and Peter S. Williams (editors)

‘Here is something for almost everyone – often presented, suitably enough, with both charm and wit, and surely enticing many of us to read or re-read the books.’
Christopher Idle, Herne Hill, SE London, Churchman, Winter

 

 

 

Stay tuned for more reviews soon!

 

 

 

Latest Reviews

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.

The Use of the Old Testament in a Wesleyan Theology of Mission
By Gordon L. Snider

 

The Use of the Old Testament in a Wesleyan Theology of Mission 9780227176023‘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

 

 

The Conversion and Therapy of Desire
By Mark J. Boone

The Conversion and Therapy of Desire 9780227176665.jpg

‘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
By Ambrose Mong

A Tale of Two Theologians 9780227176580

‘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

 

Perfecting Perfection 9780227175880

Perfecting Perfection: Essays in Honour of Henry D. Rack
By Robert Webster

‘Perfecting Perfection is a fitting tribute to the author of such a considerable and influential output.’
– Robert Schofield, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Volume 68, Issue 4, October 2017

 

 

Stay tuned for many more reviews in the future!

New Reviews

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.

Dialogue Derailed: Joseph Ratzinger’s War against Pluralist Theology
By Ambrose Mong

Dialogue Derailed

“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

 

 

A Tale of Two Theologians: Treatment of Third World Theologies
By Ambrose Mong

A Tale of Two Theologians

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

 

 

Book of Homilies: A Critical Edition
By Gerald Bray

The Books of Homilies

“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: Imperialism and Evangelism in China
By Ambrose Mong

Guns and Gospel

“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

 

 

 

The Role of Death in Life: A Multidisciplinary Examination of the Relationship between Life and Death
By John Behr and Conor Cunningham (Editors)

The Role of Death in Life

“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

 

 

The Claim of Humanity in Christ: Salvation and Sanctification in the Theology of T.B. and J.B. Torrance
By Alexandra S. Radcliff

The Claim of Humanity in Christ

“Above all, I highly recommend Radcliff’s work that is a comprehensive account of the Torrances’ soteriology.”
Ximan Xu, The Expository Times, Volume 129, Number 9, June 2018

 

 

 

Postcolonial Public Theology: Faith, Scientific Rationality and Prophetic Dialogue
By Paul S. Chung

Postcolonial Public Theology

“Chung’s book has begun this much-needed conversation and should be applauded for its efforts to engage in such dialogue.”
Calida Chu, The Expository Times, Volume 129, Number 11, August 2018

 

 

 

 

Beware the Evil Eye: The Evil Eye in the Bible and the Ancient World (Volume 3: The Bible and Related Sources)
By John H. Elliott

Beware the Evil Eye

“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

 

 

 

Contextualization of Sufi Spirituality in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth- Century China: The Role of Liu Zhi
By David Lee

Contextualization of Sufi Spirituality in Seventeeth and Eighteenth-Century China

“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