By Nathan Bieniek
Never before in English, this volume presents Luther’s prefaces from 1520-32 for the writings of both colleagues and opponents. In Luther’s day, the preface was sometimes the most important part of the book. The preface used the most beautiful of language to praise the author, his work, and his arguments–and to decry his opponents. Publishers knew that having Luther’s preface brought instant fame to any book.
Some of Luther’s prefaces are short, witty, and incisive; others are as long as treatises, with thorough discussions of important theology. Satirical, earnest, tender, combative–in his prefaces Luther is all these things. Over and over, Luther calls his readers to remember why the Reformation was needed, and not to take it for granted.
Author Information: Christopher Brown
Examining the diverse religious texts and practices of the late Hellenistic and Roman periods, this collection of essays investigates the many meanings and functions of ritual sacrifice in the ancient world. The essays survey sacrificial acts, ancient theories, and literary as well as artistic depictions of sacrifice, showing that any attempt to identify a single underlying significance of sacrifice is futile. Sacrifice cannot be defined merely as a primal expression of violence, despite the frequent equation of sacrifice to religion and sacrifice to violence in many modern scholarly works; nor is it sufficient to argue that all sacrifice can be explained by guilt, by the need to prepare and distribute animal flesh, or by the communal function of both the sacrificial ritual and the meal.
As the authors of these essays demonstrate, sacrifice may be invested with all of these meanings, or none of them. The killing of the animal, for example, may take place offstage rather than in sight, and the practical, day-to-day routine of plant and animal offerings may have been invested with meaning, too. Yet sacrificial acts, or discourses about these acts, did offer an important site of contestation for many ancient writers, even when the religions they were defending no longer participated in sacrifice. Negotiations over the meaning of sacrifice remained central to the competitive machinations of the literate elite, and their sophisticated theological arguments did not so much undermine sacrificial practice as continue to assume its essential validity.
Ancient Mediterranean Sacrifice offers new insight into the connections and differences among the Greek and Roman, Jewish and Christian religions.
Author Information: Jennifer Knust
Exploring Christian Heritageprovides students and teachers with a rich and substantial introduction to the texts that have shaped the Christian faith. Including significant works penned by Augustine, Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Wesley, John Calvin, and Karl Barth, among others, this collection also highlights essential movements–from the second to the twentieth centuries–often glossed over in primary sources readers. From Pentecostalism and the Baptists to feminism and religious liberty movements, Exploring Christian Heritage succinctly integrates the most influential voices throughout Christian history and theology into one invaluable and accessible resource.Author Information: Rady Roldan-Figueroa
Arvo Pärt is one of the most influential and widely performed contemporary composers. Around 1976 he developed an innovative new compositional technique called ‘tintinnabuli’ (Latin for ‘sounding bells’), which has had an extraordinary degree of success. It is frequently performed around the world, has been used in award-winning films, and pieces such as Für Alina and Spiegel im Siegel have become standard repertoire. This collection of essays, written by a distinguished international group of scholars and performers, is the essential guide to Arvo Pärt and his music. The book begins with a general introduction to Pärt’s life and works, covering important biographical details and outlining his most significant compositions. Two chapters analyze the tintinnabuli style and are complemented by essays which discuss Pärt’s creative process. The book also examines the spiritual aspect of Pärt’s music and contextualizes him in the cultural milieu of the twenty-first century and in the marketplace.
Author Information: Andrew Shenton
Self, Culture, and Others in Womanist Practical Theology argues for a critical engagement between womanist theology and psychoanalytic Self Psychology. Sheppard’s position is that a psychoanalytically informed womanist practical theology will more fully account for the complexities of black women’s experiences of self and black embodiment as well as the role of religion and cultural objects in self understanding. This psychoanalytic turn allows us not only to examine practices of care in relation to black women but also to direct a psychoanalytic lens toward womanist theological anthropology, embodiment, pedagogy, psychology of religion, as well as psychoanalytic reader response to engagement with scripture. In the end, her work challenges and advances both psychoanalysis and womanist thought.
Author Information: Phillis Isabella Sheppard
In The Entangled God, Kirk Wegter-McNelly addresses the age-old theological question of how God is present to the world by constructing a novel, scientifically informed account of the God–world relation. Drawing on recent scientific and philosophical work in “quantum entanglement,” Wegter-McNelly develops the metaphor of “divine entanglement” to ground the relationality and freedom of physical process in the power of God’s relational being. The Entangled God makes a three-fold contribution to contemporary theological and religious discourse. First, it calls attention to the convergence of recent theology around the idea of “relationality.” Second, it introduces theological and religious readers to the fascinating story of quantum entanglement. Third, it offers a robust “plerotic” alternative to kenotic accounts of God’s suffering presence in the world. Above all, this book takes us beyond the view of theology and science as adversaries and demonstrates the value of constructively relating these two important areas of intellectual investigation.
Autho Information: Kirk Wegter McNelly
What is the value of religious and spiritual experiences within human life? Are we evolutionarily programmed to have such experiences? How will emerging technologies change such experiences in the future? Wesley Wildman addresses these key intellectual questions and more, offering a spiritually evocative naturalist interpretation of the diverse variety of religious and spiritual experiences. He describes these experiences, from the common to the exceptional, and offers innovative classifications for them based on their neurological features and internal qualities. His account avoids reductionalistic oversimplifications and instead synthesizes perspectives from many disciplines, including philosophy and natural sciences, into a compelling account of the meaning and value of religious and spiritual experiences in human life. The resulting interpretation does not assume a supernatural worldview nor does it reject such experiences as positive affirmation of this-worldly existence.
Autho Information: Wesley Wildman
Für die ökumenische und liturgische Bewegung des 20. Jahrhunderts ist die Taufe eines der wichtigsten Themen und Anliegen gewesen. In jüngster Zeit wurden die zunehmende Bedeutung der sog. Limaerklärung zu Taufe, Eucharistie und Amt und ihre Konsequenzen in den Kirchen diskutiert. Zur gleichen Zeit vollzog sich in verschiedenen christlichen Gemeinschaften eine Wiederentdeckung der Taufe, die nun in einer neuen, gemeinschaftlicheren Form gefeiert wurde. Ein internationales Autorenteam diskutiert in diesem Band die Taufe im Hinblick auf die historische Entwicklung der Feiergestalt, die liturgietheologischen Grundlagen und die praktisch theologischen Konsequenzen für eine angemessene Taufpraxis heute.
Author information: Karen Westerfield Tucker