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A Study in Early Christian History and Difference
In the first full-length study of the circumcision of Jesus, Andrew S. Jacobs turns to an unexpected symbol—the stereotypical mark of the Jewish covenant on the body of the Christian savior—to explore how and why we think about difference and identity in early Christianity.
Jacobs explores the subject of Christ's circumcision in texts dating from the first through seventh centuries of the Common Era. Using a diverse toolkit of approaches, including the psychoanalytic, postcolonial, and poststructuralist, he posits that while seeming to desire fixed borders and a clear distinction between self (Christian) and other (Jew, pagan, and heretic), early Christians consistently blurred and destabilized their own religious boundaries. He further argues that in this doubled approach to others, Christians mimicked the imperial discourse of the Roman Empire, which exerted its power through the management, not the erasure, of difference.
For Jacobs, the circumcision of Christ vividly illustrates a deep-seated Christian duality: the fear of and longing for an other, at once reviled and internalized. From his earliest appearance in the Gospel of Luke to the full-blown Feast of the Divine Circumcision in the medieval period, Christ circumcised represents a new way of imagining Christians and their creation of a new religious culture.
Artistic representations were of significant value to early Christian communities. In Christ the Miracle Worker in Early Christian Art, Lee Jefferson argues that images provided visual representations of vital religious and theological truths crucial to the faithful and projected concepts beyond the limitations of the written and spoken word. Images of Christ performing miracles or healings functioned as advertisements for Christianity and illustrated the nature of Christ. Using these images of Christ, Jefferson examines the power of art, its role in fostering devotion, and the deep connection between art and its elucidation of pivotal theological claims.
Essays on Anglican and Episcopal History in China
Written by a team of internationally recognized scholars, Christian Encounters with Chinese Culture focuses on a church tradition that has never been very large in China but that has had considerable social and religious influence. Themes of the book include questions of church, society and education, the Prayer Book in Chinese, parish histories, and theology. Taken together, the nine chapters and the introduction offer a comprehensive assessment of the Anglican experience in China and its missionary background. Historical topics range from macro to micro levels, beginning with an introductory overview of the Anglican and Episcopal tradition in China. Topics include how the church became embedded in Chinese social and cultural life, the many ways women’s contributions to education built the foundations for strong parishes, and Bishop R. O. Hall’s attentiveness to culture for the life of the church in Hong Kong. Two chapters explore how broader historical themes played out at the parish level—St. Peter’s Church in Shanghai during the War against Japan and St. Mary’s Church in Hong Kong during its first three decades. Chapters looking at the Chinese Prayer Book bring an innovative theological perspective to the discussion, especially how the inability to produce a single prayer book affected the development of the Chinese church. Finally, the tension between theological thought and Chinese culture in the work of Francis C. M. Wei and T. C. Chao is examined. “This is one of the finest books on Christianity and Chinese culture to have emerged in recent years. Philip Wickeri has done the almost-impossible, and assembled an outstanding, world-class team of scholars to write on Anglican and Episcopal history in China, with essays focusing on education, liturgy, ministry, ecclesiology and theology. This is a timely, important book—and one that will re-shape the way we understand the place of Anglican and Episcopal churches in the past, present and future.” —Martyn Percy, dean of Christ Church, Oxford, UK “This pioneering study provides new knowledge of local parishes, translation of liturgy, as well as mission and theology of Chung Hua Sheng Kung Hui. Comprehensive in scope and original in using new resources, it will stimulate new scholarship in the study of Christianity in China.” —Kwok Pui-lan, author of Chinese Women and Christianity, 1860–1927 “The essays included in this important volume offer a refreshingly realistic image of the Christian missionary enterprise and its interaction with Chinese culture and society. The contributors present new angles of interpretation, with more informed and nuanced accounts of the complexities and contradictions that shaped the encounter of one particular strand of Western Christianity and Chinese culture during a turbulent century of change.” —R. G. Tiedemann, professor of Chinese history, Shandong University, China
Men and Religion in Northern Europe in the 19th and 20th Centuries
In the mid-nineteenth century, when the idea of religion as a private matter connected to the home and the female sphere won acceptance among the bourgeois elite, Christian religious practices began to be associated with femininity and soft values. Contemporary critics claimed that religion was incompatible with true manhood, and today's scholars talk about a feminisation of religion. But was this really the case? What expression did male religious faith take at a time when Christianity was losing its status as the foundation of society? This is the starting point for the research presented in Christian Masculinity. Here we meet Catholic and Protestant men struggling with and for their Christian faith as priests, missionaries, and laymen, as well as ideas and reflections on Christian masculinity in media, fiction, and correspondence of various kinds. Some men engaged in social and missionary work, or strove to harness the masculine combative spirit to Christian ends, while others were eager to show the male character of Christian virtues. This book not only illustrates the importance of religion for the understanding of gender construction, but also the need to take into consideration confessional and institutional aspects of religious identity.
A Reader in Christian Social Ethics from the Bible to the Present
No question has been as persistently nettling as the proper relationship of Christians and the Christian church to political power, and the results have often been calamitous. This classic collection of Christian statements on social ethics, now fully revised and augmented, provides a panoramic view of the 2000-year development of Christian concerns for political justice, peace, civil rights, family law, civil liberties, and other "worldly" issues. In readings that range from the Bible to church fathers to Bonhoeffer and Pope Benedict XVI, these substantial excerpts enable the student to see the flow of Christian thought and the deeper religious context for addressing today's most pressing problems.
A Brief History
In Christian Thought in America: A Brief History, Daniel Ott and Hannah Schell offer a short, accessible overview of the history of Christian thought in America, from the Puritans and other colonials to the beginning of the twenty-first century. Moving chronologically, each chapter addresses a historical segment, focusing on key movements and figures and tracing general trends and developments. While many texts offer a detailed history of Christianity in the American context, few focus on the philosophical and theological issues, which form an important yet often neglected part of our history.
The narrative aims to underscore the diversity of Christian thought in America by addressing issues in their historical contexts and by examining across a range of traditions. At the same time, it conveys a sense of the vibrancy of Christian thought, as well as the liveliness and creativity of the ongoing theological debates. The book explores several recurring themes that mark the trajectory of Christian thought in America, including the idea of a divine mission, the tendency to privilege the individual, and the influence of the spirit of reform and revival.
Each chapter concludes with a short bibliograpy of recent scholarship for further reading.
Religious history more generally has experienced an exciting revival over the past few years, with new methodological and theoretical approaches invigorating the field. The time has definitely come for this “new religious history” to arrive in Eastern Europe. This book explores the influence of the Christian churches in Eastern Europe's social, cultural, and political history. Drawing upon archival sources, the work fills a vacuum as few scholars have systematically explored the history of Christianity in the region. The result of a three-year project, this collective work challenges readers with questions like: Is secularization a useful concept in understanding the long-term dynamics of religiosity in Eastern Europe? Is the picture of oppression and resistance an accurate way to characterize religious life under communism, or did Christians and communists find ways to co-exist on the local level prior to 1989? And what role did Christians actually play in dissident movements under communism? Perhaps most important is the question: what does the study of Eastern Europe contribute to the broader study of modern Christian history, and what can we learn from the interpretative problems that arise, uniquely, from this region?
The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul
Lisa Kaaren Bailey’s Christianity’s Quiet Success: The Eusebius Gallicanus Sermon Collection and the Power of the Church in Late Antique Gaul is the first major study of the Eusebius Gallicanus collection of anonymous, multi-authored sermons from fifth- and sixth-century Gaul. Bailey sheds new light on these sermons, which were strikingly popular and influential from late antiquity to the High Middle Ages, as the large number of surviving manuscripts attests. They were used for centuries by clergy as a preaching guide and by monks and pious lay people as devotional reading. Bailey’s analysis demonstrates the extent to which these stylistically simple and straightforward sermons emphasize consensus, harmony, and mutuality as the central values of a congregation. Preachers encouraged tolerance among their congregants and promoted a model of leadership that placed themselves at the center of the community rather than above it. These sermons make clear the delicate balancing act required of late antique and warly medieval pastors as they attempted to explain the Christian faith and also maintain the clerical control considered necessary for a universal church. The Eusebius Gallicanus collection gives us fresh insight inyo the process by which the Catholic Church influenced the lives of Western Europeans.
For too long, the study of religious life in Late Antiquity has relied on the premise that Jews, pagans, and Christians were largely discrete groups divided by clear markers of belief, ritual, and social practice. More recently, however, a growing body of scholarship is revealing the degree to which identities in the late Roman world were fluid, blurred by ethnic, social, and gender differences. Christianness, for example, was only one of a plurality of identities available to Christians in this period.
In Christians and Their Many Identities in Late Antiquity, North Africa, 200-450 CE, Éric Rebillard explores how Christians in North Africa between the age of Tertullian and the age of Augustine were selective in identifying as Christian, giving salience to their religious identity only intermittently. By shifting the focus from groups to individuals, Rebillard more broadly questions the existence of bounded, stable, and homogeneous groups based on Christianness. In emphasizing that the intermittency of Christianness is structurally consistent in the everyday life of Christians from the end of the second to the middle of the fifth century, this book opens a whole range of new questions for the understanding of a crucial period in the history of Christianity.