Ten Theology Books to Watch For – Sept. 2017

September 14, 2017 — 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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Parish and Place: Making Room for Diversity in the American Catholic Church

Tricia Colleen Bruce

Oxford UP

 

The Catholic Church stands at the forefront of an emergent majority-minority America. Parish and Placetells the story of how America’s largest religion is responding at the local level to unprecedented cultural, racial, linguistic, ideological, and political diversification. Specifically, it explores bishops’ use of personal parishes – parishes formally established not on the basis of territory, but purpose. Today’s personal parishes serve an array of Catholics drawn together by shared identities and preferences, rather than shared neighborhoods. They allow Catholic leaders to act upon the perceived need for named, specialist organizations alongside the more common territorial parish that serves all in its midst.

Parish and Place documents the American Catholic Church’s movement away from “national” parishes and towards personal parishes as a renewed organizational form. Tricia Bruce uses in-depth interviews and national survey data to examine the rise and rationale behind new parishes for the Traditional Latin Mass, for Vietnamese Catholics, for tourists, and more. Featuring insights from bishops, priests, and diocesan leaders throughout the United States, this book offers a rare view of institutional decision making from the top. Parish and Place demonstrates structural responses to diversity, exploring just how far fragmentation can go before it challenges unity.

 

Augustine and the Mystery of the Church

James K. Lee

Fortress Press

Over the course of the past two centuries, Augustine’s ecclesiology has been subject to interpretations that overdraw the distinction between the visible and invisible dimensions of the church, sometimes reducing the church to a purely spiritual, invisible reality, over against the visible church celebrating the sacraments; the empirical community is incidental, at best, and can be discarded. By contrast, this book argues that the church is a mystery that is visible and invisible. Far from discarding the visible, Augustine places greater emphasis on the empirical church as his thought develops.

This study traces Augustine’s ecclesiology from early writings to later works in order to demonstrate this thesis. His early thought is heavily influenced by Platonism and tends to focus on the ascent of the individual soul. After his study of Scripture in the 390s, Augustine gives priority to participation in the visible, sacramental community. In his mature thought, the church is one mystery (mysterium, sacramentum) revealed by Scripture, with visible and invisible aspects. This book explores Augustine’s exegesis of biblical images of the church, such as body of Christ, bride of Christ, city of God, and sacrifice, in order to show how the visible community is intrinsic to the mystery of the church.

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