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Learning Socratic Lessons of Disillusion and Renewal
Thomas Eisele explores the premise that the Socratic method of inquiry need not teach only negative lessons (showing us what we do not know, but not what we do know). Instead, Eisele contends, the Socratic method is cyclical: we start negatively by recognizing our illusions, but end positively through a process of recollection performed in response to our disillusionment, which ultimately leads to renewal. Thus, a positive lesson about our resources as philosophical investigators, as students and teachers, becomes available to participants in Socrates’ robust conversational inquiry. Bitter Knowledge includes Eisele’s detailed readings of Socrates’ teaching techniques in three fundamental Platonic dialogues, Protagoras, Meno, and Theaetetus, as well as his engagement with contemporary authorities such as Gregory Vlastos, Martha Nussbaum, and Stanley Cavell. Written in a highly engaging and accessible style, this book will appeal to students and scholars in philosophy, classics, law, rhetoric, and education.
Texts Relating to the Cult of Saint Louis of France
Louis IX, king of France from 1226 to 1270 and twice crusader, was canonized in 1297. He was the last king canonized during the medieval period, and was both one of the most important saints and one of the most important kings of the later Middle Ages. In Blessed Louis, the Most Glorious of Kings: Texts Relating to the Cult of Saint Louis of France, M. Cecilia Gaposchkin presents six previously untranslated texts that informed medieval views of St. Louis IX: two little-known but early and important vitae of Saint Louis; two unedited sermons by the Parisian preacher Jacob of Lausanne (d. 1322); and a liturgical office and proper mass in his honor—the most commonly used liturgical texts composed for Louis’ feast day—which were widely copied, read, and disseminated in the Middle Ages. Gaposchkin’s aim is to present to a diverse readership the Louis as he was known and experienced in the Middle Ages: a saint celebrated by the faithful for his virtue and his deeds. She offers for the first time to English readers a typical hagiographical view of Saint Louis, one in counterbalance to that set forth in Jean of Joinville’s Life of Saint Louis. Although Joinville’s Life has dominated our views of Louis, Joinville’s famous account was virtually unknown beyond the French royal court in the Middle Ages and was not printed until the sixteenth century. His portrayal of Louis as an individual and deeply charismatic personality is remarkable, but it is fundamentally unrepresentative of the medieval understanding of Louis. The texts that Gaposchkin translates give immediate access to the reasons why medieval Christians took Louis to be a saint; the texts, and the image of Saint Louis presented in them, she argues, must be understood within the context of the developing history of sanctity and sainthood at the end of the Middle Ages.
Its Purpose and Inner Logic
The Liber Regularum, written by Tyconius in the Fourth Century A.D., was the first system of biblical interpretation proposed by a Latin theologian. Augustine was very interested in this work and included an extraordinary summation of it in his De doctrina christiana. Although this treatment insured the preservation of the work and its lasting fame, Augustine's summary became better known than the original. Pamela Bright's The Book of Rules of Tyconius: Its Purpose and Inner Logic reintroduces this neglected classic of early church literature. Bright asserts that although Augustine was greatly influenced by the Liber Regularum, his philosophical differences caused him to misunderstand its meaning. Bright reexamines the meaning of “prophecy” and “rule” from Tyconius's perspective and reveals that the purpose of the book was not to provide a general guide to scriptural interpretation, but rather a way to interpret apocalyptic texts. She cites Tyconius's intense concern with evil in the church as the genesis of his interest in the apocalypse and subsequently the meaning of the scripture concerning it. Tyconius speaks of the “seven mystical rules” of scripture that with the grace of the Holy Spirit reveal the true meaning of prophecy. If an interpreter follows the “logic” of these rules, the nature of the church as composed by both good and evil membership is revealed. Bright argues that Tyconius was not illogical or incompetent in the work's composition as many critics have claimed but rather that he organized his material in a concentric pattern so that Rule Four, the center of the seven rules, is also the central development of his theory.
Essays on the Election of Israel in Honor of Jon D. Levenson
The topic of the election of Israel is one of the most controversial and difficult subjects in the entire Bible. Modern readers wonder why God would favor one specific people and why Israel in particular was chosen. One of the most important and theologically incisive voices on this topic has been that of Jon D. Levenson. His careful, wide-ranging scholarship on the Hebrew Bible and its theological reuse in later Judaic and Christian sources has influenced a generation of Jewish and Christian thinkers. This focused volume seeks to bring to a wide audience the ongoing rich theological dialogue on the election of Israel. Writing from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, the authors—Jews, Catholics, and Protestants—contribute thought-provoking essays spanning fields including the Hebrew Bible, apocryphal and pseudepigraphic literature, New Testament, rabbinics, the history of Christian exegesis, and modern theology. The resulting book not only engages the lifelong work of Jon D. Levenson but also sheds new light on a topic of great import to Judaism and Christianity and to the ongoing dialogue between these faith traditions.
Reginald Pecock's Books and Textual Communities
The Call to Read is the first full-length study to situate the surviving oeuvre of Reginald Pecock in the context of current scholarship on English vernacular theology of the late medieval period. Kirsty Campbell examines the important and innovative contribution Pecock made to late medieval debates about the roles of the Bible, the Church, the faculty of reason, and practices of devotion in fostering a vital, productive, and stable Christian community. Campbell argues that Pecock’s fascinating attempt to educate the laity is more than an effort to supply religious reading material: it is an attempt to establish and unite a community of readers around his books, to influence and thus change the ways they understand their faith, the world, and their place in it. The aim of Pecock’s educational project is to harness the power of texts to effect religious change. Combining traditional approaches with innovative thinking on moral philosophy, devotional exercises, and theological doctrine, Pecock’s works of religious instruction are his attempt to reform a Christian community threatened by heresy through reshaping meaningful Christian practices and forms of belief. Campbell’s book will be of interest to scholars and students of medieval literature and culture, especially those interested in fifteenth-century religious history and culture.
Why is the Catholic Church against the death penalty? This second edition of Brugger’s classic work Capital Punishment and Roman Catholic Moral Tradition traces the doctrinal path the Church has taken over the centuries to its present position as the world’s largest and most outspoken opponent of capital punishment. The pontificate of John Paul II marked a watershed in Catholic thinking. The pope taught that the death penalty is and can only be rightly assessed as a form of self-defense. But what does this mean? What are its implications for the Church’s traditional retribution-based model of lethal punishment? How does it square with what the Church has historically taught? Brugger argues that the implications of this historic turn have yet to be fully understood. In his new preface, Brugger examines the contribution of the great Polish pope’s closest collaborator and successor in the Chair of Peter, Pope Benedict XVI, to Catholic thinking on the death penalty. He argues that Pope Benedict maintained the doctrinal status quo of his predecessor’s teaching on capital punishment as self-defense, with detectable points of reluctance to draw attention to nontraditional implications of that teaching.
A Closed Question?
The “Galileo Affair” has been the locus of various and opposing appraisals for centuries: some view it as an historical event emblematic of the obscurantism of the Catholic Church, opposed a priori to the progress of science; others consider it a tragic reciprocal misunderstanding between Galileo, an arrogant and troublesome defender of the Copernican theory, and his theologian adversaries, who were prisoners of a narrow interpretation of scripture. In The Case of Galileo: A Closed Question? Annibale Fantoli presents a wide range of scientific, philosophical, and theological factors that played an important role in Galileo’s trial, all set within the historical progression of Galileo’s writing and personal interactions with his contemporaries. Fantoli traces the growth in Galileo Galilei’s thought and actions as he embraced the new worldview presented in On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, the epoch-making work of the great Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus.
This collection of essays explores the survival of Catholic culture in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century England—a time of Protestant domination and sometimes persecution. Contributors examine not only devotional, political, autobiographical, and other written texts, but also material objects such as church vestments, architecture, and symbolic spaces. Among the topics discussed in this volume are the influence of Latin culture on Catholic women, Marian devotion, the activities of Catholics in continental seminaries and convents, the international context of English Catholicism, and the influential role of women as maintainers of Catholic culture in a hostile religious and political environment. Catholic Culture in Early Modern England makes an important contribution to the ongoing project of historians and literary scholars to rewrite the cultural history of post-Reformation English Catholicism.
In Catholic Progressives in England after Vatican II, Jay P. Corrin traces the evolution of Catholic social and theological thought from the end of World War II through the 1960s that culminated in Vatican Council II. He focuses on the emergence of reformist thinking as represented by the Council and the corresponding responses triggered by the Church's failure to expand the promises, or expectations, of reform to the satisfaction of Catholics on the political left, especially in Great Britain. The resistance of the Roman Curia, the clerical hierarchy, and many conservative lay men and women to reform was challenged in 1960s England by a cohort of young Catholic intellectuals for whom the Council had not gone far enough to achieve what they believed was the central message of the social gospels, namely, the creation of a community of humanistic socialism. This effort was spearheaded by members of the English Catholic New Left, who launched a path-breaking journal of ideas called Slant. What made Slant revolutionary was its success in developing a coherent philosophy of revolution based on a synthesis of the “New Theology” fueling Vatican II and the New Left’s Marxist critique of capitalism. Although the English Catholic New Left failed to meet their revolutionary objectives, their bold and imaginative efforts inspired many younger Catholics who had despaired of connecting their faith to contemporary social, political, and economic issues. Corrin’s analysis of the periodical and of such notable contributors as Terry Eagleton and Herbert McCabe explains the importance of Slant and its associated group within the context of twentieth-century English Catholic liberal thought and action.
Although slaveholding southerners and Catholics in general had little in common, both groups found themselves relentlessly attacked in the northern evangelical press during the decades leading up to the Civil War. In Catholics, Slaveholders, and the Dilemma of American Evangelicalism, 1835–1860, W. Jason Wallace skillfully examines sermons, books, newspaper articles, and private correspondence of members of three antebellum groups—northern evangelicals, southern evangelicals, and Catholics—and argues that the divisions among them stemmed, at least in part, from disagreements over the role that religious convictions played in a free society. Focusing on journals such as The Downfall of Babylon, Zion’s Herald, The New York Evangelist, and The New York Observer, Wallace argues that northern evangelicals constructed a national narrative after their own image and, in the course of vigorous promotion of that narrative, attacked what they believed was the immoral authoritarianism of both the Catholic and the slaveholder. He then examines the response of both southerners and Catholics to northern evangelical attacks. As Wallace shows, leading Catholic intellectuals interpreted and defended the contributions made by the Catholic Church to American principles such as religious liberty and the separation of church and state. Proslavery southern evangelicals, while sharing with evangelicals in the North the belief that the United States was founded on Protestant values, rejected the attempts by northern evangelicals to associate Christianity with social egalitarianism and argued that northern evangelicals compromised both the Bible and Protestantism to fit their ideal of a good society. The American evangelical dilemma arose from conflicting opinions over what it meant to be an American and a Christian.