Ten Theology Books to Watch For – Jan. 2018

January 4, 2018 — Leave a comment

 

Here are a some excellent theology* books that will be released this month:

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology

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The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity: Texts and Analysis

E.L. Gallagher / J.D. Meade

Oxford UP

 

The Bible took shape over the course of centuries, and today Christian groups continue to disagree over details of its contents. The differences among these groups typically involve the Old Testament, as they mostly accept the same 27-book New Testament. An essential avenue for understanding the development of the Bible are the many early lists of canonical books drawn up by Christians and, occasionally, Jews. Despite the importance of these early lists of books, they have remained relatively inaccessible. This comprehensive volume redresses this unfortunate situation by presenting the early Christian canon lists all together in a single volume. The canon lists, in most cases, unambiguously report what the compilers of the lists considered to belong to the biblical canon. For this reason they bear an undeniable importance in the history of the Bible.

The Biblical Canon Lists from Early Christianity provides an accessible presentation of these early canon lists. With a focus on the first four centuries, the volume supplies the full text of the canon lists in English translation alongside the original text, usually Greek or Latin, occasionally Hebrew or Syriac. Edmon L. Gallagher and John D. Meade orient readers to each list with brief introductions and helpful notes, and they point readers to the most significant scholarly discussions. The book begins with a substantial overview of the history of the biblical canon, and an entire chapter is devoted to the evidence of biblical manuscripts from the first millennium. This authoritative work is an indispensable guide for students and scholars of biblical studies and church history.

 

 

Isaac of Nineveh’s Ascetical Eschatology

Jason Scully

Oxford UP

 

Isaac of Nineveh’s Ascetical Eschatology demonstrates that Isaac’s eschatology is an original synthesis based on ideas garnered from a distinctively Syriac cultural milieu. Jason Scully investigates six sources relevant to the study of Isaac’s Syriac source material and cultural heritage. These include ideas adapted from Syriac authors like Ephrem, John the Solitary, and Narsai, but also adapted from the Syriac versions of texts originally written in Greek, like Evagrius’s Gnostic Chapters, Pseudo-Dionysius’s Mystical Theology, and the Pseudo-Macarian homilies. Isaac’s eschatological synthesis of this material is a sophisticated discourse on the psychological transformation that occurs when the mind has an experience of God. It begins with the premise that asceticism was part of God’s original plan for creation. Isaac says that God created human beings with infantile knowledge and that God intended from the beginning for Adam and Eve to leave the Garden of Eden. Once outside the garden, human beings would have to pursue mature knowledge through bodily asceticism.

Although perfect knowledge is promised in the future world, Isaac also believes that human beings can experience a proleptic taste of this future perfection. Isaac employs the concepts of wonder and astonishment in order to explain how an ecstatic experience of the future world is possible within the material structures of this world. According to Isaac, astonishment describes the moment when a person arrives at the threshold of eschatological perfection but is still unable to comprehend the heavenly mysteries, while wonder describes spiritual comprehension of heavenly knowledge through the intervention of divine grace.

 

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