News, Theology

Ten Theology Books to Watch For – July 2022

Here are some excellent new theology books * that will be released in July 2022 :

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

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Sonorous Desert: What Deep Listening Taught Early Christian Monks―and What It Can Teach Us

Kim Haines-Eitzen

(Princeton UP)

Enduring lessons from the desert soundscapes that shaped the Christian monastic tradition

For the hermits and communal monks of antiquity, the desert was a place to flee the cacophony of ordinary life in order to hear and contemplate the voice of God. But these monks discovered something surprising in their harsh desert surroundings: far from empty and silent, the desert is richly reverberant. Sonorous Desert shares the stories and sayings of these ancient spiritual seekers, tracing how the ambient sounds of wind, thunder, water, and animals shaped the emergence and development of early Christian monasticism.

Kim Haines-Eitzen draws on ancient monastic texts from Egypt, Sinai, and Palestine to explore how noise offered desert monks an opportunity to cultivate inner quietude, and shows how the desert quests of ancient monastics offer profound lessons for us about what it means to search for silence. Drawing on her own experiences making field recordings in the deserts of North America and Israel, she reveals how mountains, canyons, caves, rocky escarpments, and lush oases are deeply resonant places. Haines-Eitzen discusses how the desert is a place of paradoxes, both silent and noisy, pulling us toward contemplative isolation yet giving rise to vibrant collectives of fellow seekers.

Accompanied by Haines-Eitzen’s evocative audio recordings of desert environments, Sonorous Desert reveals how desert sounds taught ancient monks about solitude, silence, and the life of community, and how they can help us understand ourselves if we slow down and listen.


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Cross and Creation: A Theological Introduction to Origen of Alexandria

Mark Therrien

(Catholic U of America Press)

Even though the theology of Origen of Alexandria has shaped the Christian Tradition in almost every way, the controversies over his legacy have been seemingly endless. One major interpretative trend, for example, has suggested Origen’s theology is really akin to the heterodox Gnostics against whom he wrote than the actual teaching of the Gospel, since he (supposedly) had a disdainful attitude towards Creation and ultimately saw little redemptive meaning in the Passion.

In Cross and Creation: A Theological Introduction to Origen of Alexandria, Mark Therrien offers an original interpretation of Origen’s theology. Focusing on some of Origen’s most important works (especially On First Principles and the Commentary on John, but ultimately making reference to his writings more broadly), this book retrieves and examines some of the foundational pillars of Origen’s theology through close readings and re-examinations of those texts. It examines eight of these theological foundations: God, Christ, the Holy Spirit, the end, the soul, the world, the cross, and deification. Moreover, by showing the connections between Origen’s understanding of these foundational pillars, it also shows the coherence of his theology as a whole. Taken collectively, what emerges from these eight chapters is that two doctrines specially shape Origen’s theology: Cross and Creation. As Therrien shows, Origen did not hold contempt for Creation. Rather, Origen thinks that Creation emerges from the very life of God as eternally foreknown and provided for in the person of Christ, the Wisdom of God the Father. Moreover, he also holds that, though fallen, Creation will be restored according to its original, eternal intention in God precisely through the Passion of Jesus Christ on the Cross. The Cross is thus not minimalized in Origen’s theology; it is rather its very center.

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