The Church : Theology in History.

Author: Frederick J. Cwiekowski
ISBN: 978-0814644683
Date: 2018
Price: £25.99
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Publisher: Collegeville : Liturgical Press

Understanding the development of any academic discourse outside its historical context is always limiting – if not impossible. When that discourse is the development of an understanding of relationship with God then the role of history is front and centre. Add to that the historical sweep in which the author himself developed his formative theology – in this case during the Second Vatican Council – and the role of temporality is even richer.

Aimed at the specialist and the educated generalist (the former benefitting from rich footnotes) this highly readable book is written at a good pace by Cwiekowski, a Sulpician priest and scholar For example, within a few pages he charts the key themes of the exilic and post exilic period (‘Second Temple Judaism’) showing succinctly how these elements generated the narrative behind that expectation of Jesus’ birth.

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Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence

Editor: Marie Dennis
ISBN: 978-1-62698-270-3
Date: 2018
Price: £20.99
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Publisher: Orbis books

Recently the world has marked the centenary of the end of the First World War. While this has been marked in many ways it is easy to overlook the fact that partly because of it and Pope Benedict XV’s courageous and isolated opposition to it, Catholic teaching about war and peace has changed substantially in the last century. St John XXIII and successors, together with the Second Vatican Council, were crucial in this development; but it is becoming clear that Pope Francis is helping the Church to move towards a more complete rejection of violence. To this end a conference was organised in the Vatican in April 2016 by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and Pax Christi International. Following it in his 2017 World Peace Day message the Holy Father wrote ‘To be true followers of Jesus today also includes embracing his teaching about nonviolence... I pledge the assistance of the Church in every effort to build peace though active and creative nonviolence…Every such step, however modest, helps to build a world free of violence, the first step towards justice and peace.’

Read more: Choosing Peace: The Catholic Church Returns to Gospel Nonviolence

New books on preaching

God, Neighbour, Empire
Author: Walter Brueggemann
ISBN: 978-0-334-05562-4
Date: 2017
Price: £15.50
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Publisher: SCM Press

A Theology of Preaching
and Dialectic
Author: Aaron P Edwards
ISBN: 978-0-567-67856-0
Date: 2018
Price: £69.99
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Publisher: T & T Clark

In the field of the study of liturgy and worship there has not been, at any rate in this country, a great deal of theological writing about the art of preaching and homiletics. The College of Preachers, and the work, for example, of theologians like Deacon Duncan Macpherson, who has often contributed to this journal, have attempted to fill the gap but I suspect many of us who preach regularly seldom reflect critically or theologically about what we are doing Sunday by Sunday or day by day.

The American Old Testament scholar Walter Brueggemann has written extensively on preaching over the years, but unfortunately his work is not known that well in this country. His new book, God, Neighbour Empire has a forward written by Jane Williams who teaches on the Anglican ministerial course, St Mellitus College, so hopefully it will have some influence on future clergy. The book is made up of lectures given at Fuller Seminary in the United States. Rather in the manner of Fr Daniel Berrigan, Brueggemann’s theme is the relationship between God as portrayed in the Old Testament and the empires which form the historical background and setting for our texts.

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Thomas Cromwell: A Life

Author: Diarmaid MacCulloch
ISBN: 978-1-846-14429-5
Date: 2018
Price: £30
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Publisher: Allen Lane. Penguin, Random House

In late June 1535 Thomas Cromwell jotted down on a scrap of paper things he needed to see to immediately. Amongst the jottings, he noted he must decide ‘when Master Fisher shall go to execution, and so the other.’ Thus did he conceal from himself his squeamishness about doing something he wished he did not have to do, to arrange the execution of Sir Thomas More. This is just one tiny instance of the archival brilliance of Diarmaid MacCulloch’s biography of Thomas Cromwell. This is the most exhaustively-researched biography of any sixteenth-century Briton and yet all the time MacCulloch spots telling and sometimes clinching detail or long-lost connection buried in the most unprepossessing places. I have long thought that his biography of Cranmer is the finest Tudor biography we have. I do not want to have to choose between that and this.

Read more: Thomas Cromwell: A Life

The Prophets

The Bible in Medieval Tradition: The Book of Jeremiah
Editor: Joy A.Schroeder
ISBN: 978 0 8028 7329 3
Date: 2017
Price: £45.99
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Publisher: Eerdmans / Alban Books

Medieval commentaries, unlike patristic ones, have been rather neglected (many of them have never been translated into English), so The Bible in Medieval Tradition series is calculated to fill a gap. In the present volume, by Professor Schroeder of Columbus, Ohio, we are given lengthy quotations, newly translated, of medieval comments on different parts of the Book of Jeremiah. These passages of Jeremiah have been selected because they appear in most modern lectionaries, and the medieval comments on them are therefore likely to be of interest to preachers today, or because scholars regard them as key texts for interpreting the biblical book. The commentators chosen are Rupert of Deutz (born c.1075), Albert the Great (b.c.1206), Rabanus Maurus (b.c.783), Hugh of St Cher (b.c. 1200), Aquinas (b.c.1225), Nicholas of Lyra (b.c. 1270), and Denis the Carthusian (b.c. 1402).

Read more: The Prophets

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