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Christian Approaches to Contemporary Thinking Collection (6 vols.)
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Overview

The six-volume Christian Approaches to Contemporary Thinking Collection interacts with Western and Eastern philosophies, and shows the potential for theology beyond these intellectual paradigms. The included titles, while grappling with divergent issues, betray their dissatisfaction with the philosophical kernel that imbues their respective topics. The result is a collection that looks past the limited and sometimes intellectually stagnant nature of modern philosophy. Topics include the possibility of free will in Heaven, a Christian conception of suffering versus a modernist view, converting from Buddhism to Catholicism, recovering the sense of the sacred, wisdom in the contemporary world, and more. Also included is Literary Encounters with the Reign of God, an assemblage of essays that apply the latest in literary criticism to the Scriptures.

Key Features

  • Six titles exploring philosophical questions
  • Essays that apply the latest in literary criticism to the Scriptures.

Individual Titles

Will There Be Free Will in Heaven?: Freedom, Impeccability and Beatitude

  • Author: Simon Francis Gaine
  • Publication Date: 2003
  • Pages: 128

Sample pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4

Just before Christmas 1999, various prominent public figures, teachers, clergymen and others received a set of ten religious questions from the BBC's Today program. All were predictable save one: “Will there be free will in heaven?” This book addresses this important question.

Simon Gaine sets out the arguments of two modern philosophers, one who concludes that heaven is undesirable because it excludes freedom by excluding the possibility of sin (Wall), and the other who responds that an orthodox notion of heaven in fact implies the real possibility of sin (Donnelly). He shows how such modern concerns have arisen against the background of theologians such as Subrez, who limits freedom in the face of heavenly impeccability, and asks whether a high value placed on freedom can be successfully combined with heavenly impeccability.

He then goes on to investigate the theories of Duns Scotus and William of Ockham, two theologians who hold a high view of freedom in general as well as heavenly impeccability, but they are found wanting. Gaine then introduces an alternative conception of freedom through an account of Servais Pinckaers' connection of two different ideas of freedom (“indifference” and “excellence”) with two different moral theologies. He applies these two conceptions to eschatology. He concludes that the most pleasing theory combines freedom for excellence and an intrinsic theory of impeccability. He develops this suggestion by drawing on and developing some ideas found in Thomas Aquinas.

Gaine combines medieval scholarship with a witty and informed understanding of perennially fascinating questions about human free will in this lucidly written and accessible book.

—Fergus Kerr

Fr. Simon Francis Gaine, O.P. is Catholic Chaplain to the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh College of Art, UK.

This is the Night: Suffering, Salvation, and the Liturgies of Holy Week

  • Author: James W. Farwell
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Pages: 200

Sample pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

This Is the Night is a work of “liturgical theology,” understood as a theology inspired or informed by the liturgies of Christian Holy Week. In the context of modernity in crisis, it is an attempt to think with the principal liturgies of the “Paschal Triduum” – Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and the Great Vigil of Easter – about human suffering.

The author works from an analysis of the structure of the Christian paschal liturgies to offer an account of suffering that is more compassionate and honest than that of western modernity. Moreover, this account is the theoretical correlate of an ethic performed by the paschal liturgies: their structure and rhythm give rise not only to an account of suffering and its remedy, but to a compassionate practice into which Christians are called.

In both the philosophical and the popular imagination, modernity is a context in which “progress” is the defining human telos. Because of this commitment to progress, modernity is often allergic to the concrete pain and horror of suffering. Modernity sidelines suffering as an unfortunate but necessary moment in the course of human progress, not infrequently because it is a by-product of our “progress” – our technical mastery of nature and leadership of global capitalization. In this context, suffering is more a concept than an existential fact or experience. Yet downplaying human suffering in this way creates even greater suffering, by anesthetizing us to its effect on human beings.

Some of the critics of modernity also criticize Christianity as a religious version of the modern myth of progress, or even as its very source. Inspired in part by the political theology of Johann Metz and by the liturgical scholarship of Don Saliers, Robert Taft, and others, the author argues instead that in the liturgies of Holy Week, the passion, death, and resurrection of Christ form a context in which Christians recognize human suffering not as an unfortunate moment on the way to salvation but as the very field of God’s saving activity. That divine activity is saving precisely as we enter into it by practice. To be saved– to enter into an abundant and vigorous human life– is to become a priestly people, orienting ourselves toward suffering in the same way that Jesus Christ did, facing it with courage where necessary and resisting its ravages where possible.

James W. Farwell is Assistant Professor in the H. Boone Porter Chair of Liturgics at General Theological Seminary, New York.

Where Shall Wisdom Be Found?: Wisdom in the Bible, the Church and the Contemporary World

  • Editor: Stephen Barton
  • Publication Date: 2005
  • Pages: 416

Sample pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

What is wisdom - and where is it to be found? A number of experts in a wide range of theological and related disciplines have come together to explore this question. In the first part they consider wisdom in Israel and in the church, drawing upon scriptural sources and historical case-studies. In the second part, theologians, philosophers, social scientists, ethicists and educationalists look at wisdom in the contemporary world. While much good work has been done on biblical traditions, there has been very little on the many facets of wisdom in the Judeo-Christian theological, philosophical and ethical traditions. This book breaks considerable new ground.

There is a great deal of wisdom about wisdom to be found in this wonderful book. I can think of no greater recommendation for a book than when I read through it, I was thinking, ‘I would love to have a class carefully read through these essays as in the process I think we should all be made better.’ That’s what a good book does, and Where Shall Wisdom Be Found? does it.

—Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University

Dr. Stephen Barton is Reader in New Testament, Department of Theology and Religion, Durham University, UK. He is the author of The Family in Theological Perspective, and editor of Idolatry: False Worship in the Bible, Early Judaism and Christianity and The Cambridge Companion to the Gospels.

The Sense of the Supernatural

  • Author: Jean Borella
  • Publication Date: 2001
  • Pages: 176

Sample Pages: 1 | 2 | 3

Jean Borella explores the modernist crisis in Catholic theology, its causes and implications, and offers a solution to the fundamental dilemma of the Western Christian mind and a path to the recovery of the sense of the sacred. For three centuries, philosophers and theologians tried to preserve God's transcendence by denying continuity between the natural and the supernatural. This prolonged division allowed an illusory autonomy and an inclination towards totalitarian humanism. The writings of Henri de Lubac, referring to ancient and Eastern sources, were instrumental in dispelling this illusion. In this remarkable book, Jean Borella lays the foundations for a theology of culture in the tradition of Newman and de Lubac, and recalls us to the adventure of the Christian vocation to holiness, re-opening “the place in us where God awaits our waiting on him.”

In this book, Jean Borella bravely seeks to undo the damage caused by the papal condemnation of Henri de Lubac’s thesis concerning the inherent supernatural ordination of human nature… his book deserves attention from a wide readership.

—Catherine Pickstock, University of Cambridge

Jean Borella teaches at the University of Nancy II, France. He has written extensively on theology, religious ideas and symbolism.

The Unexpected Way: On Converting from Buddhism to Catholicism

  • Author: Paul Williams
  • Publication Date: 2002
  • Pages: 264

Sample pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6

Described as an “essay in radical postmodern theology,” The Unexpected Way  is a record of one man's unexpected philosophical and theological pilgrimage from Buddhism to Catholicism. There are Christians who, in mid-life decide to abandon their Christian faith and become Buddhists. Paul Williams did the opposite. After twenty years spent practicing and teaching Tibetan Buddhism in Britain, scholar and broadcaster Paul Williams astonished his family and friends in 1999 by converting to Roman Catholicism. Williams explains why he joined a Church that many Buddhists and others might regard as a repressed and outdated way of life and belief. He argues that being a Catholic in the modern world is no less rational than being a Buddhist, and may in many respects, be more so. Williams’ conversion explanation interacts as much with the paramount intellectual thinkers of Western and Eastern philosophy as it does with his pet cat, doughnuts, and other seemingly innocuous artifacts of modern culture.

Gratitude and joy are the main threads in the fabric of this book… a book to be grateful for in times like these…

—Paul Griffiths, Commonweal

...a heartfelt and sensitive account of God’s leadings…

—Lavinia Byrne, The Church Times

...a fascinating and original work… It is an account of a necessary journey, but one not made in vain, and the riches yielded from the account of a conversion so well made mark this as a modern classic of Catholic spirituality.

—Kieran Flanagan, Saint Austin Review

...richly fascinating and immensely readable, with insights and challenges on every page…

Second Spring

Paul Williams is Professor of Indian and Tibetan Philosophy and Codirector of the Centre for Buddhist Studies, University of Bristol. He is a former President of the UK Association for Buddhist Studies. He has written five other books on Buddhist thought, the most recent being Songs of Love, Poems of Sadness.

Literary Encounters with the Reign of God

  • Editors: Sharon Ringe and H. C. P. Kim
  • Publication Date: 2004
  • Pages: 384

Sample pages: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Essays in Honor of Robert Tannehill. Tannehill is one of the most recognized scholars of the Gospels in the American academy. His work on narrative criticism of the Gospels remains unsurpassed in the academy. His book on Luke-Acts remains the single most important book on that unit of biblical writing, and it produced an entire generation of New Testament scholars who have now become well-known for their work in literary studies in the Gospels. This volume amasses a sampling of that generation’s intellectual output. With essays on the future of the Bible in a digital age, postcolonial reflections on Luke-Acts, literary critical studies on the Gospels and more, the contributors apply the latest in philosophical and literary thought to the Bible.

This delightful collection of articles honoring Robert Tannehill reflects his interests in Jesus; literary approaches to Matthew, Mark and Luke; and his love for the natural world. Such diverse topics as eco-justice in the New Testament, how Matthew is treated in introductory textbooks, the significance of the famine in the story of the prodigal son, and Luke’s mimicry of and resistance to the imperial ethos are only a sample of the volume’s richness. The essays will be of academic interests to scholars, and several will be useful in introductory biblical courses.

—Joanna Dewey, Episcopal Divinity School

This festschrift honors Robert Tannehill by following many of the paths opened up by his groundbreaking work in New Testament studies. Both individually and collectively, these essays illustrate how the richness and the cutting edge– the sword– of biblical texts are again and again unveiled when these texts are read with the literary sensibility and rigor that Robert Tannehill’s work exemplifies.

—Daniel Patte, Vanderbilt University

Sharon Ringe is Professor New Testament at Wesley Theological Seminary and the author of Wisdom's Friends: Community and Christology in the Fourth Gospel.

H. C. P. Kim is Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible at Methodist Theological School in Ohio and the author of Ambiguity, Tension and Multiplicity in Deuter-Isaiah.

Product Details

  • Title: Christian Approaches to Contemporary Thinking Collection (6 vols.)
  • Volumes: 6
  • Pages: 1,568