The purpose of this series is to present in plain English the most indispensable texts of pastoral writers prior to the beginning of the eighteenth century. Its goal is the care of souls, viewed historically. To this end, Classical Pastoral Care features selected short passages from these writers on a number of important issues that face today’s pastor. Pride of place is given to patristic sources, although medieval and Reformation authors are scarcely overlooked. Concise introductions preface thoughtfully organized thematic sections, and each text is linked with companion texts through insightful analysis.
Pastoral Care is that branch of Christian theology that deals with care of persons by pastors. It is pastoral because it pertains to the offices, tasks, and duties of the pastor. It is care because it has charge of, and is deliberately attentive to the spiritual growth and destiny of persons. Pastoral care is analogous to a physician's care of the body. Since that particular sphere over which one exercises care is the psyche, (soul, anima, the animating, enlivening, energizing, motivating spring of human existence without which a body is a corpse, pastoral care is also appropriately called the care of souls.
Classical pastoral care is pastoral care as understood, practiced and set forth by key writers of the Christian tradition. That is classical which is versed in the classics. Classics are the works of highest rank and quality in a field of study, whose worth has been recognized over a long period of time.
The Classical Pastoral Care series presents especially those rare texts that have a gem-like quality, that one often hopes to find easily but for which much reading is often necessary. The search has often required extensive digging in a given period or series before coming across just that text that best embodies the pastoral tradition, that brightly illuminates its subject, or profoundly grasps the point, or states it more subtly than before. This has been the joy and vexation of this editorial effort, similar to panning for gold in a deserted stream, only rarely coming across the bright nugget.
This is a source which will fill both mind and heart and should be a ready reference… for every evangelical pastor.
Thomas C. Oden is Henry Anson Buttz Professor of Theology at the Theological School, Drew University. He received his Ph.D. from Yale University.