Christian Spirituality : The Classics book cover
1st Edition

Christian Spirituality
The Classics

Edited By

Arthur Holder

ISBN 9780415776028
Published August 17, 2009 by Routledge
392 Pages

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Book Description

Christian Spirituality: The Classics is a unique and comprehensive guide to thirty key Christian spirituality texts. Ranging from Origen and Augustine to Jonathan Edwards, Thérèse of Lisieux and Thomas Merton, it offers a view of the texts which is founded in scholarship, but which also presents them as living documents that invite- even compel -contemplative reflection and existential response.

Each chapter briefly describes the classic text’s author and audience, gives a synopsis of its contents, suggests some of its influence in history, and then explores aspects of the text’s meaning for readers today. Key themes include:

  • What is the meaning of life?
  • How can human beings find truth?
  • How can they discover who they really are?
  • How can they live together in peace?
  • How can they live more fully in God’s presence in this world and be united with God in the world to come?

The scholars who have written these chapters are all experts on their respective topics, but they wear their learning lightly. Anyone wishing to discover the riches of Christian spirituality will find this the ideal introduction and should be able to progress to a deeper understanding of the texts themselves.

Table of Contents

Notes on Contributors  Editor’s Introduction  1. Origen (ca. 185 - ca. 253), Commentary on the Song of Songs (John J. O’Keefe)  2. Athanasius (ca. 295-373), Life of Antony (Douglas Burton-Christie)  3. Gregory of Nyssa (ca. 335 - ca. 395), Life of Moses (Nonna Verna Harrison)  4. Augustine (354-430), Confessions (Jennifer Hockenbery)  5. (Pseudo) Dionysius the Areopagite (late fifth century), On the Divine Names and Mystical Theology (John D. Jones)  6. Benedict of Nursia (ca. 480 - ca. 547), Rule (Theresa Ladrigan-Whelpley)  7. Gregory the Great (ca. 540-604), Book of Pastoral Rule (Arthur Holder)  8. Bernard of Clairvaux (1090-1153), On Loving God (Mark S. Burrows)  9. Mechthild of Magdeburg (ca. 1210 - ca. 1282), The Flowing Light of the Godhead (Ulrike Wiethaus)  10. Bonaventure (ca. 1217/21 - 1274), The Soul’s Journey into God (Elizabeth A. Dreyer)  11. Marguerite Porete (d. 1310), The Mirror of Simple Souls (Maria Lichtmann)  12. Gregory Palamas (1296-1359), Triads in Defense of the Holy Hesychasts (John A. McGuckin)  13. Julian of Norwich (ca. 1342 - ca. 1416), Showings (Elisabeth Koenig)  14. Anonymous (fourteenth century), Cloud of Unknowing (Steven Chase)  15. Catherine of Siena (1347-80), Dialogue (Darleen Pryds)  16. Martin Luther (1483-1546), The Freedom of a Christian (Timothy J. Wengert)  17. Ignatius of Loyola (1491-1556), The Spiritual Exercises (Elizabeth Liebert)  18. Teresa of Avila (1515-82), The Interior Castle (Mary Frohlich)  19. John of the Cross (1542-91), The Dark Night (David B. Perrin)  20. Francis de Sales (1567-1622), Introduction to the Devout Life (Wendy M. Wright)  21. George Herbert (1593-1633), The Country Parson (Philip Sheldrake)  22. Madame Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717), A Short and Very Easy Method of Prayer (Bo Karen Lee)  23. Jonathan Edwards (1703-58), A Treatise on Religious Affections (Timothy Hessel-Robinson)  24. Søren Kierkegaard (1813-55), An Occasional Discourse (Purity of Heart) (David J. Kangas)  25. Anonymous (mid-nineteenth century), The Way of a Pilgrim (Suzette Phillips)  26. Thérèse of Lisieux (1873-97), Story of a Soul (Joann Wolski Conn)  27. Evelyn Underhill (1875-1941), Mysticism (Dana Greene)  28. Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), Life Together (Lisa E. Dahill)  29. Howard Thurman (1899-1981), Jesus and the Disinherited (Luther E. Smith, Jr)  30. Thomas Merton (1915-68), New Seeds of Contemplation (Bruce H. Lescher)

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The Reverend Arthur G. Holder is Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs and John Dillenberger Professor of Christian Spirituality at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California


'In this lively and engaging volume Arthur Holder has provided the academic and formative communities that critically study and read classical spiritual texts for transformative purposes a book that is likely to shape the introductory courses on the history of Christian spirituality for the forseeable future ... These essays are so good, so elegant and written in such a scholarly and heartfelf manner, that anyone reading them will want to read the classic texts themselves ... [an] extraordinarily useful volume.' – Janet K. Ruffing, Fordham University, USA, Horizons: Journal of the College Theology Society vol. 36, no. 2 (2009)

'This volume contains thirty essays about major spiritual texts from the second century to the twentieth; it will introduce the reader, in a most lively and accessible manner, to many central aspects of human life lived towards God today; it is both an introduction to these writings and an invitation to explore them deeply and personally.' – Benedicta Ward, Oxford University, UK

'It is rare when one can say that every essay in a collaborative work is worth reading, but that is definitely the case here. ... This volume should be considered for adoption in many courses on spirituality and Christian history.' – Don H. Compier, St. Paul School of Theology, Anglican and Episcopal History