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For fascination, influence, inspiration, and controversy, Dietrich Bonhoeffer's Letters and Papers from Prison is unmatched by any other book of Christian reflection written in the twentieth century. A Lutheran pastor and theologian, Bonhoeffer spent two years in Nazi prisons before being executed at age thirty-nine, just a month before the German surrender, for his role in the plot to kill Hitler. The posthumous Letters and Papers from Prison has had a tremendous impact on both Christian and secular thought since it was first published in 1951, and has helped establish Bonhoeffer's reputation as one of the most important Protestant thinkers of the twentieth century. In this, the first history of the book's remarkable global career, National Book Award-winning author Martin Marty tells how and why Letters and Papers from Prison has been read and used in such dramatically different ways, from the cold war to today.
In his late letters, Bonhoeffer raised tantalizing questions about the role of Christianity and the church in an increasingly secular world. Marty tells the story of how, in the 1960s and the following decades, these provocative ideas stirred a wide range of thinkers and activists, including civil rights and antiapartheid campaigners, "death-of-God" theologians, and East German Marxists.
In the process of tracing the eventful and contested history of Bonhoeffer's book, Marty provides a compelling new perspective on religious and secular life in the postwar era.
The Dionysian Mystical Theology introduces the Pseudo-Dionysian “mystical theology,” with glimpses at key stages in its interpretation and critical reception through the centuries. In part one, the elusive Areopagite’s own miniature essay, The Mystical Theology, is quoted in its entirety, sentence by sentence, with commentary. Its cryptic contents would be almost impenetrable without judicious reference to the rest of the Dionysian corpus: The Divine Names, The Celestial Hierarchy, The Ecclesiastical Hierarchy, and the ten Letters. Of special importance is the Dionysian use of negations in an “apophatic” theology that recognizes the transcendence of God beyond human words and concepts.
Stages in the reception and critique of this Greek corpus and theme are sketched in part two: first, the initial sixth-century introduction and marginal comments (Scholia) by John of Scythopolis; second, the early Latin translation and commentary by the ninth-century Carolingian Eriugena and the twelfth-century commentary by the Parisian Hugh of St. Victor; and third, the critical reaction and opposition by Martin Luther in the Reformation. In conclusion, the Dionysian apophatic is presented alongside other forms of negative theology in light of modern and postmodern interests in the subject.
Management, Finances and Patrimony of Religious Orders and Congregations in Europe, 1773 - ca. 1930 / Gestion, finances et patrimoine des ordres et congregations en Europe, 1773 - ca. 1930
During the French Revolution almost all monasteries and abbeys were suppressed and their possessions seized. Yet after the French Revolution many religious institutes were very successful in re-establishing themselves, sometimes accumulating large patrimonies, against the background of often hostile political forces. This book deals with the question of how the religious orders and congregations rebuilt their patrimony, a necessary prerequisite for the growth of the number of religious, educational and charitable services. The authors discuss the (real or supposed) wealth, the financial structures, and the management and juridical foundations of the orders and congregations in Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Luxembourg, Belgium, Ireland, and the United Kingdom from the late eighteenth century to the 1930s.
Bodies, Desires, and Sexuality in Christianity
The topic of sexuality intersects directly with the most contested historical, theological, and ethical questions of our day. In this edgy yet profound volume, noted scholars and theologians assay the Christian tradition's classic and contemporary understandings of sex, sexuality, and sexual identity.
The project unfolds in three phases: contemporary assessments of the Christian tradition, new thinking about eros and being human religiously, and new perspectives on classic mysteries in light of eros and embodiment.
Catholic Action before and after Vatican II
The early 1960s were a heady time for Catholic laypeople. Pope Pius XII's assurance "You do not belong to the Church. You are the Church" emboldened the laity to challenge Church authority in ways previously considered unthinkable. Empowering the People of God offers a fresh look at the Catholic laity and its relationship with the hierarchy in the period immediately preceding the Second Vatican Council and in the turbulent era that followed. This collection of essays explores a diverse assortment of manifestations of Catholic action, ranging from genteel reform to radical activism, and an equally wide variety of locales, apostolates, and movements.
Translation, Scholarship, Culture
How did the Bible survive the Enlightenment? In this book, Jonathan Sheehan shows how Protestant translators and scholars in the eighteenth century transformed the Bible from a book justified by theology to one justified by culture. In doing so, the Bible was made into the cornerstone of Western heritage and invested with meaning, authority, and significance even for a secular age.
The Enlightenment Bible offers a new history of the Bible in the century of its greatest crisis and, in turn, a new vision of this century and its effects on religion. Although the Enlightenment has long symbolized the corrosive effects of modernity on religion, Sheehan shows how the Bible survived, and even thrived in this cradle of ostensible secularization. Indeed, in eighteenth-century Protestant Europe, biblical scholarship and translation became more vigorous and culturally significant than at any time since the Reformation. From across the theological spectrum, European scholars--especially German and English--exerted tremendous energies to rejuvenate the Bible, reinterpret its meaning, and reinvest it with new authority.
Poets, pedagogues, philosophers, literary critics, philologists, and historians together built a post-theological Bible, a monument for a new religious era. These literati forged the Bible into a cultural text, transforming the theological core of the Judeo-Christian tradition. In the end, the Enlightenment gave the Bible the power to endure the corrosive effects of modernity, not as a theological text but as the foundation of Western culture.
Nature was always vital in Thomas Merton’s life, from the long hours he spent as a child watching his father paint landscapes in the fresh air, to his final years of solitude in the hermitage at Our Lady of Gethsemani, where he contemplated and wrote about the beauty of his surroundings. Throughout his life, Merton’s study of the natural world shaped his spirituality in profound ways, and he was one of the first writers to raise concern about ecological issues that have become critical in recent years. In The Environmental Vision of Thomas Merton, author Monica Weis suggests that Merton’s interest in nature, which developed significantly during his years at the Abbey of Gethsemani, laid the foundation for his growing environmental consciousness. Tracing Merton’s awareness of the natural world from his childhood to the final years of his life, Weis explores his deepening sense of place and desire for solitude, his love and responsibility for all living things, and his evolving ecological awareness.