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Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon, written by Paul from prison
in the middle of the first century, were addressed to specific
Christian communities facing concrete challenges. What did these
letters mean at the time, and what do they mean for us today?
The Reformation transformed Europe, and left an indelible mark on the modern world. It began as an argument about what Christians needed to do to be saved, but rapidly engulfed society in a series of fundamental changes. This Very Short Introduction provides a lively and up-to-date guide to the process. It explains doctrinal debates in a clear and non-technical way, but is equally concerned to demonstrate the effects the Reformation had on politics, society, art, and minorities. Peter Marshall argues that the Reformation was not a solely European phenomenon, but that varieties of faith exported from Europe transformed Christianity into a truly world religion. The complex legacy of the Reformation is also assessed; its religious fervour produced remarkable stories of sanctity and heroism, and some extraordinary artistic achievements, but violence, holy war, and martyrdom were equally its products. A paradox of the Reformation - that it intensified intolerance while establishing pluralism - is one we still wrestle with today. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
Many observers greeted the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) as the most important religious event in the twentieth century. Its implementation and impact are still being felt in the Catholic Church, the wider Christian world, and beyond. One sea change that Vatican II brought concerned Roman Catholic attitudes towards Judaism, Islam, and other religions. Gerald O'Collins breaks fresh ground by examining in detail five documents from the Council which embodied a new mind set about other religious faiths and mandated changes that quickly led to international and national dialogues between the Catholic Church and the followers of non-Christian religions. The book also includes chapters on the insights that prepared the way for the re-thinking expressed by Vatican II, and on the follow-up to the Council's teaching found in the work of Pope John Paul II and Jacques Dupuis. O'Collins ably illustrates how the Council made a startling advance in official Catholic teaching about followers of other living faiths. Carefully researched, the book is written in the clear, accessible style that readers of previous works by O'Collins will recognize.
The general councils of the fifteenth century constituted a remarkable political experiment, which used collective decision-making to tackle important problems facing the church. Such problems had hitherto received rigid top-down management from Rome. However, at Constance and Basle, they were debated by delegates of different ranks from across Europe and resolved through majority voting. Fusing the history of political thought with the study of institutional practices, this innovative study relates the procedural innovations of the general councils and their anti-heretical activities to wider trends in corporate politics, intellectual culture and pastoral reform. Alexander Russell argues that the acceptance of collective decision-making at the councils was predicated upon the prevalence of group participation and deliberation in small-scale corporate culture. Conciliarism and Heresy in Fifteenth-Century England offers a fundamental reassessment of England's relationship with the general councils, revealing how political thought, heresy, and collective politics were connected.
Convening leading scholars to reflect on the practical and philosophical implications of religious values, this volume is an accessible introduction to Catholic social thought on contemporary affairs. Its gracefully written chapters cover three themes - direct environmental policy implications of Laudato Si', philosophical alternatives to dominant policy discourse, and renewed political economy based on robust conceptions of human flourishing. Care for the World offers learned reflections on what it would mean to express an ethic of compassion in an era of climate crises.
For St. Ephrem of Syria (d. 373) and Jacob of Serugh (d. 521), God is utterly mysterious, yet He is present in all that He has created. The kenosis (self-emptying) of the Word of God is found not only in the human nature of Christ, but in the finite words of Sacred Scripture. In this action, the Divine makes itself accessible to human beings. The triple descent of the Son of God into the womb of Mary, the Jordan River at his baptism, and into sheol at his death, were actions directed both to redemption and divinization. Ephrem and Jacob employed a system of types and antitypes used in Sacred Scripture to demonstrate the sacraments as extensions of Christ's actions through history. St. Ephrem, who was proclaimed a Doctor of the Church by Pope Benedict XV, and Jacob of Serugh were two of the earliest and most important representatives of the theological world-view of the Syriac church. Much of their work was in the form of hymns and metrical homilies, using poetry to express theology. In Early Syriac Theology, Chorbishop Seely Joseph Beggiani strives to present their insights in a systematic form according to headings used in western treatises, while not undermining the originality and cohesiveness of their thought. The material is organized under the themes of the hiddenness of God, creation and sin, revelation, incarnation, redemption, divinization and the Holy Spirit, the Church, Mary, the mysteries of initiation, eschatology and faith. Additionally, the book highlights the fact that the liturgical tradition of the Maronite church, one of the Syriac churches, is consistently and pervasively a living expression of the theology of these two Syriac church fathers.
Ever since its appearance in Europe five centuries ago, the rosary has been a widespread, highly visible devotion among Roman Catholics. Its popularity has persisted despite centuries of often seismic social upheaval, cultural change, and institutional reform. In form, the rosary consists of a ritually repeated sequence of prayers accompanied by meditations on episodes in the lives of Christ and Mary. As a devotional object of round beads strung on cord or wire, the rosary has changed very little since its introduction centuries ago. Today, the rosary can be found on virtually every continent, and in the hands of hard-line traditionalists as well as progressive Catholics. It is beloved by popes, professors, protesters, commuters on their way to work, children learning their "first prayers," and homeless persons seeking shelter and safety. Why has this particular devotional object been so ubiquitous and resilient, especially in the face of Catholicism's reinvention in the Early Modern, or "Counter-Reformation," Era? Nathan D. Mitchell argues in lyric prose that to understand the rosary's adaptability, it is essential to consider the changes Catholicism itself began to experience in the aftermath of the Reformation. Unlike many other scholars of this period, Mitchell argues that after the Reformation Catholicism actually became more innovative and diversified rather than retrenched and monolithic. This innovation was especially evident in the sometimes "subversive"; visual representations of sacred subjects, such as in the paintings of Caravaggio, and in new ways of perceiving the relation between Catholic devotion and the liturgy's ritual symbols. The rosary was thus involved not only in how Catholics gave flesh to their faith, but in new ways of constructing their personal and collective identity. Ultimately, Mitchell employs the history of the rosary, and the concomitant devotion to the Virgin Mary with which it is associated, as a lens through which to better understand early modern Catholic history.
At the start of the nineteenth century, the Jesuits seemed fated for oblivion. Dissolved as a religious order in 1773 by one pope, they were restored in 1814 by another, but with only six hundred aged members. Yet a century later, the Jesuits numbered seventeen thousand men and were at the vanguard of the Catholic Church's expansion around the world. In the United States especially, foreign-born Jesuits built universities and schools, aided Catholic immigrants, and served as missionaries. This book traces this nineteenth-century resurgence, showing how Jesuits nurtured a Catholic modernity through a disciplined counterculture of parishes, schools, and associations. Drawing on archival materials from three continents, American Jesuits and the World tracks Jesuits who left Europe for America and Jesuits who left the United States for missionary ventures across the Pacific. Each chapter tells the story of a revealing or controversial event, including the tarring and feathering of an exiled Swiss Jesuit in Maine, the efforts of French Jesuits in Louisiana to obtain Vatican approval of a miraculous healing, and the educational efforts of American Jesuits in Manila. These stories place the Jesuits at the center of the worldwide clash between Catholics and liberal nationalists, and reveal how the Jesuits not only revived their own order but made modern Catholicism more global. The result is a major contribution to modern global history and an invaluable examination of the meaning of religious liberty in a pluralistic age.
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