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If Basil of Caesarea receives mention in a standard course of lectures on Christian theology or history it is as the first person to write a dedicated discourse on the Holy Spirit. Ironically, the primary question about Basil for scholars is whether he fully believed in the divinity of the Holy Spirit himself.
Timothy McConnell argues that Basil did regard the Holy Spirit as fully divine and an equal Person of the Holy Trinity. However, Basil refused to use philosophical terminology to make the point, preferring instead to prove the divinity of the Holy Spirit by what the Spirit himself revealed through divine act and Holy Scripture. Thus, “illumination” becomes the primary paradigm that Basil used to argue the divinity of the Holy Spirit, rather than philosophical rationalism of his time.
What Basil called illumination, later theologians would come to refer to as ‘theology of revelation’ setting the stage for this study’s high relevance for contemporary thought.
Samuel DeWitt Proctor and Black Public Faith
As a distinguished Baptist pastor, educator, and public servant, Samuel DeWitt Proctor made it his mission to serve American life by fighting against racism. In The Imposing Preacher, Adam Bond shows how Proctor, as the product of a prophetic black church tradition, a social gospel-laced liberal Protestantism, and a black middle-class integrationist ethos, envisioned a type of pulpit activism through which the United States could realize a civil society and genuine community, and was able to anticipate and contest some of the themes articulated in the black religious movements of the late twentieth century.
Bond shows Proctor to be a public theologian committed to developing an inclusive and racially pluralistic global society that confronts racism as the social crisis of its time. Proctor did not respond to segregation through marches and visible protests. Instead he saw the classroom and the pulpit as the sacred spaces for dialogue about race in America. In this way, he presents an alternative model of religious and social leadership and for studies of African American religion in the twentieth century.
Essays on Jesus Christ in the Early Church in Honor of Brian E. Daley, S.J.
The early centuries of the Christian church are widely regarded as the most decisive and influential for the formation of the church’s convictions about Jesus Christ. The essays in this volume offer readers a fresh orientation, and ground-breaking analyses, of the figure of Jesus in late antiquity. Written by historians and theologians who examine the thought of leading theologians, Latin and Greek, from the second through the seventh centuries, these essays honor and complement the scholarship of Brian E. Daley, Catherine F. Huisking Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame. While most discussions still confine patristic Christology to its conciliar trajectory, this volume broadens our horizons. The essays gathered here explore aspects of early Christology that cannot be narrowly confined to the path marked by the ecumenical councils. The contributors locate Jesus within a rich matrix of relationships: they explore how early Christian theologians connected Jesus Christ to their other doctrinal concerns about God, the gift of salvation, and the eschaton, and they articulate how convictions about Jesus Christ informed numerous practices, including discipleship, martyrdom, scriptural interpretation, and even the practice of thinking well about Christ.
Historical Perspectives, Emerging Issues
In the early twenty-first century, interest in the life and work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer is increasing significantly. In this environment, how should we understand and interpret Bonhoeffer? Interpreting Bonhoeffer explores the many questions surrounding the complexities of Bonhoeffer’s life, work, and historical context and what they might mean for how we understand and interpret Bonhoeffer now and in the future. Looks at issues of interpreting Bonhoeffer’s work and legacy in light of increased interest from across the theological spectrum.
The Use of the Church Fathers in Reformation Debates over the Eucharist
Adding great historical insight to the events of the sixteenth century, Inventing Authority uncovers how and why the Protestant reformers came, in their dissent from the Catholic church, to turn to the Church Fathers and align their movements with the early church. Discovering that the reformers most frequently appealed to patristic sources in polemical contexts, Esther Chung-Kim adeptly traces the variety and creativity of their appeals to their forebears in order to support their arguments—citing them to be authoritative for being “exemplary scriptural exegetes” to “instruments of choice.” Examining three generations of sixteenth-century reformers—from such heavy-weights as Calvin and Luther to lesser-known figures like Oecolampadius and Hesshusen—Chung-Kim offers an analysis of striking breadth, one that finds its center by focusing in on the perennially contentious topic of the Eucharist. Filling a significant lacuna in the early history of the Lutheran and Reformed traditions, Inventing Authority is an important and eye-opening contribution to Reformation studies.
Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon
Evangelicals and scholars of religious history have long recognized George Whitefield (1714–1770) as a founding father of American evangelicalism. But Jessica M. Parr argues he was much more than that. He was an enormously influential figure in Anglo-American religious culture, and his expansive missionary career can be understood in multiple ways. Whitefield began as an Anglican clergyman. Many in the Church of England perceived him as a radical. In the American South Whitefield struggled to reconcile his disdain for the planter class with his belief that slavery was an economic necessity. Whitefield was drawn to an idealized Puritan past that was all but gone by the time of his first visit to New England in 1740.
Parr draws from Whitefield’s writing and sermons and from newspapers, pamphlets, and other sources to understand Whitefield’s career and times. She offers new insights into revivalism, print culture, transatlantic cultural influences, and the relationship between religious thought and slavery. Whitefield became a religious icon shaped in the complexities of revivalism, the contest over religious toleration, and the conflicting role of Christianity for enslaved people. Proslavery Christians used Christianity as a form of social control for slaves, whereas evangelical Christianity’s emphasis on “freedom in the eyes of God” suggested a path to political freedom. Parr reveals how Whitefield’s death marked the start of a complex legacy that in many ways rendered him more powerful and influential in the afterlife than during his long career.
Apostolic Discourse and Papal Authority in Late Antiquity
On the first anniversary of his election to the papacy, Leo the Great stood before the assembly of bishops convening in Rome and forcefully asserted his privileged position as the heir of Peter the Apostle. This declaration marked the beginning of a powerful tradition: the Bishop of Rome could leverage the cult of St. Peter, and the popular association of St. Peter with the city itself, to his advantage. In The Invention of Peter, George E. Demacopoulos examines this Petrine discourse, revealing how the link between the historic Peter and the Roman Church strengthened, shifted, and evolved during the papacies of two of the most creative and dynamic popes of late antiquity, ultimately shaping medieval Christianity as we now know it.
By emphasizing the ways in which this rhetoric of apostolic privilege was employed, extended, transformed, or resisted between the reigns of Leo the Great and Gregory the Great, Demacopoulos offers an alternate account of papal history that challenges the dominant narrative of an inevitable and unbroken rise in papal power from late antiquity through the Middle Ages. He unpacks escalating claims to ecclesiastical authority, demonstrating how this rhetoric, which almost always invokes a link to St. Peter, does not necessarily represent actual power or prestige but instead reflects moments of papal anxiety and weakness. Through its nuanced examination of an array of episcopal activity—diplomatic, pastoral, political, and administrative—The Invention of Peter offers a new perspective on the emergence of papal authority and illuminates the influence that Petrine discourse exerted on the survival and exceptional status of the Bishop of Rome.
Life, Scripture, Legacy
Champion of martyrs, scourge of heretics, erudite theologian, shrewd politician—no account of early Christianity is complete without careful consideration of Irenaeus of Lyons. Here a team of international scholars examines aspects of the saint’s life, historical context, engagement with scripture, and his ecclesiastical and theological legacy for succeeding generations.
Israel, Church, and the Gentiles in the Gospel of Matthew addresses one of the central theological problems of Matthew’s Gospel: what are the relationships between Israel and the Church and between the mission to Israel and the mission to the Gentiles? To answer these questions, Matthias Konradt traces the surprising transition from the Israel-centered words and deeds of Jesus (and his disciples) before Easter to the universal mission of Jesus’ earliest followers after his resurrection. Through careful historical and narrative analysis, Konradt rejects the interpretation of the Gospel of Matthew that the Church replaced Israel in God’s purposes—that is, the interpretation that because Israel rejected Jesus as Israel’s Messiah, the Church replaced Israel in the role of God’s chosen people. Konradt instead discovers in Matthew that the Israel- and universally-centered dimensions of God’s saving purposes are far more positively connected. Matthew develops a narrative that features Jesus’ identity as both the messianic Son of David and the universal Son of God. What developed into a mainly Gentile Church should never think of itself as the "new" or "true” Israel; but, according to Matthew’s Gospel, the Church represents an extension of the promises first made to Israel and now inclusive of the Gentiles.