Emerging Scholars

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Abraham in the Works of John Chrysostom

By Demetrios E. Tonias

Throughout its first three centuries of existence, the Christian community, while new to the Roman world’s pluralistic religious scene, portrayed itself as an historic religion. The early church community claimed the Jewish Bible as their own and looked to it to defend their claims to historicity. While Jews looked to Moses and the Sinai covenant as the focus of their historical relationship with God, the early church fathers and apologists identified themselves as inheritors of the promise given to Abraham and saw their mission to the Gentiles as the fulfillment of God’s declaration that Abraham would be “a father of many nations” (Gen 17:5).M

It is in light of this background that Demetrios Tonias undertakes the first, comprehensive examination of John Chrysostom’s view of the patriarch Abraham.

By analyzing the full range of references to Abraham in Chrysostom’s work, Tonias reveals the ways in which Chrysostom used Abraham as a model of philosophical and Christian virtue, familial devotion, philanthropy, and obedient faith.

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Between Magisterium and Marketplace

A Constructive Account of Theology and the Church

by Robert C. Saler

What is the relationship of the church to theology? How does the church relate to the work of creative theological authorship, particularly when authors propose novel claims? Even more, how do ecclesial models, particularly of ecclesial authority, underwrite or authorize how theology is done? Saler takes up these challenging and provocative questions and argues for a fresh ecclesiology of the church as event, specifically as a diffusively spatialized event.

Establishing this claim through the fascinating historical encounters between thinkers like Thomas More and William Tyndale, John Henry Newman and Friedrich Schleiermacher, Between Magisterium and Marketplace provides a theological genealogy of modern ecclesiology, arguing that modern and contemporary ecclesiology is a theological contest not between Barth and Schleiermacher, but rather Newman and Schleiermacher. Constructing an alternative path, Saler turns to the work of a diverse array of authors past and present to argue for a humble yet hopeful view of the theological task in light of contemporary ecclesial opportunities.

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Chosen Nations

Pursuit of the Kingdom of God and Its Influence on Democratic Values in Late Nineteenth-Century Britain and the U.S.

By Christina L. Littlefield

At the heart of the biblical myth of chosenness is the idea that God has blessed a people to be a blessing to others. It is a mission of solemn responsibility. The six British and American thinkers examined in this study embraced the myth of chosenness for their countries, believed that the liberties they enjoyed were inherently tied to their Protestant faith, and that it was their mission to protect and spread that faith, and its democratic fruit, at home and abroad.

Each theologian in this study—Robert William Dale, Hugh Price Hughes, and Brooke Foss Westcott in England; Walter Rauschenbusch, Henry Codman Potter, and Josiah Strong in the United States—wanted, in Rauschenbusch's words, to “Christianize the social order,” seeking to evolve their countries into true Christian nations that would lead to an international kingdom of God. They were all products of their time, yet ahead of their time, and their pursuit of a true, free, national Christianity helped support the development of Western democratic values. However, their belief in chosenness also fuelled imperialistic claims, neglected the rights of native peoples, led to anti-Catholicism, and hindered the religious liberties of others.

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Christ and Analogy

The Christocentric Metaphysics of Hans Urs von Balthasar

By Junius Johnson

As one of the pillars of the nouvelle theologie movement, a main influence upon the Second Vatican Council, and one of the few figures to complete a full-scale multi-volume systematics, Hans Urs von Balthasar is undoubtedly one of the towering figures of twentieth-century theology. Until now, the structural undergirding of von Balthasar’s main contribution, a weighty 15-volume, three-part “triptych” dogmatics, has not been assessed. In this volume, the author presents an analysis of von Balthasar’s work in dogmatics and provides the structural linchpin for understanding the whole of this massive (and massively important) systematic theology by reconstructing the metaphysics of von Balthasar. Taking the person of Jesus Christ as the metaphysical starting point, the project highlights the fundamental connections to key doctrinal, historical, and philosophical issues. This is a critical volume for professors, scholars, and students in systematic theology, philosophical theology, and the study of twentieth-century Catholic and Protestant theology and history.

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Christ Crucified in a Suffering World

The Unity of Atonement and Libreation

By Nathan D. Hieb

What is the connection between Christian doctrine and concrete social action? This question marks the often unarticulated divide between systematic theology and liberation theology, each often emphasizing one primarily or formally over the other. Examining the work of Karl Barth, T. F. Torrance, and Jon Sobrino, here Nathan Hieb contests this bifurcation, specifically around the nodal points of the crucifixion, or the doctrine of atonement, and the context of suffering. This book is an innovative study that bridges the boundaries of method, doctrine, and praxis, creating a strong theological and action-oriented relationship between systematic and liberation theology.

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Christ the Light

The Theology of Light and Illumination in Thomas Aquinas

by David L. Whidden III

Light is one of the most ancient and significant metaphors adopted by Christianity by which to understand the significance of Jesus Christ. The Easter liturgy, for instance, is marked by beautiful and powerful rituals proclaiming Christ as the light of the world in his death and resurrection. That understanding developed over subsequent centuries into a larger doctrine of illumination—how Christians come to understand and know God through Christ the Light. In this work, David Whidden takes up that theme in contesting a standard paradigm of interpretation that asserts that Aquinas eliminated the doctrine of illumination in his theology.

In Christ the Light, Whidden argues that illumination is a critical systematic motif in Aquinas’s theology, one that involves the nature of truth, knowledge, and God; at the root, Aquinas’s theology of light, or illumination, is Christological, grounding human knowledge of God and eschatological beatitude. This volume establishes the theological network formed by the crucial motif of light/illumination in Aquinas, from how theology operates to the systematic, sacramental, and moral coordinates in Aquinas’ theology. Christ the Light thus provides a much needed and illuminating retrieval of the one of the most important and creative theologians in the western Christian tradition.

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Creativity as Sacrifice

Toward a Theological Model for Creativity in the Arts

by James M. Watkins

Theological interest in art is at a premium. However, theological engagement with art is often enacted without a clear sense of method. This text argues for a theological methodology in engaging the arts, and, specifically, the author puts forward a theological model for understanding human creativity in the light of Jesus’ sacrificial redemption. In dialogue with theology, philosophy, psychology, and art theory, the author establishes the relevance and applicability of an incarnational and sacrificial model of human creativity. Theological models also do more than provide a conceptual framework for theological inquiries. They engage the imagination. A theological model for human creativity is like an invitation to join in the creative vision God has for the world, and to embody this vision in one’s own creative work. Therefore, Creativity as Sacrifice does not merely articulate a conceptual framework for human creativity; it also casts a vision for human life as a creative response to the gracious gifts of a creative God.

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Deus providebit

Calvin, Schleiermacher, and Barth on the Providence of God

by Sung-Sup Kim

This dissertation stages an intervention in Reformed readings of the doctrine of providence, particularly around Barth’s critical interpretation of the tradition stemming from Calvin and Schleiermacher, and provides a critical and constructive assessment of Barth’s contribution. The author argues that while Barth advances the discussion in key ways, his reading of Calvin in particular is significantly hampered by his running challenge to Schleiermacher.

Following an assessment of Barth’s critique of the Reformed position, the author provides an extensive reading of Calvin’s writings, demonstrating that Calvin is far more concerned with the Christological basis and Christian meaning of providence than Barth’s theology recognizes; as well, Schleiermacher’s theological construction problematizes aspects of Barth’s reading.

The upshot of this work is that each of these theologians provide critical safeguards and soundings that need to be heard in concert and mutual correction for a robust doctrine of divine providence.

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Divine Eloquence and Human Transformation

Rethinking Scripture and History through Gregory of Nazianazus and Hans Frei

By Ben Fulford

Key to a theology of scripture and how theology functions in relation to the interpretation of Christianity's religious texts is the important issue of faith and history. Seeking to address a critical problem in theology and the interpretation of scripture raised by modern historical consciousness, Ben Fulford argues for a densely historical and theological reading of scripture centered in a Christological rubric. The argument herein uncovers a pattern of triune action and presence in the rhetorical use of Christian sacred texts, one which draws readers into fuller participation in the shaping of history in Christ. Tracing the problem through the modern theological heritage, the author turns to a comparative account of theologically patterned reading represented by patristic theology in Gregory of Nazianzus and postliberal theology in its pivotal founder, Hans Frei. The book addresses the challenge of historicity and historical consciousness, argues for the relevance of pre-modern approaches to scripture, and offers a fresh and extensive account of two salient figures from the early and contemporary tradition, thus enacting a theology of retrieval as a resource on a present issue of vital importance.

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Dogmatic Aesthetics

A Theology of Beauty in Dialogue with Robert W. Jenson

by Stephen John Wright

The identification of God with beauty is one of the most aesthetically rich notions within Christian thought. However, this claim is often at risk of becoming untethered from core Christian theological confessions. To avoid a theological account of beauty becoming a mere projection of our wildest desires, it must be reined in by dogmatics. To make this case, this book employs the thought of Robert W. Jenson to construct a dogmatic aesthetics. Jenson’s whole theological program is directed by exploring the systematic potential of the core doctrines of the faith that finally opens out into a vast vision of the beauty of God and creatures: “God is a great fugue . . . the rest is music.” Taking Jenson’s cue, the account of beauty presented in this book is propelled by a core conviction of Jenson’s theology: the sole analogue between God and creatures is not “being” or any other metaphysical concept, but Jesus Christ.

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