The friendship between Abraham Joshua Heschel and Reinhold Niebuhr was both personal and intellectual. Neighbours on the Upper West Side of New York City, they walked together in Riverside park and shared personal concerns in private letters; Niebuhr asked Heschel to deliver the eulogy at his funeral. They were bound by shared religious sensibilities as well, including their love of the Hebrew Bible, the irony they saw in American history and in the writings of the Hebrew prophets, and in their commitment to social justice as a duty to God. Heschel arrived in the public sphere later, as a public intellectual with a prophetic voice, much as Niebuhr had been for many decades prior. Niebuhr’s affirmation of the affinities between his and Heschel’s theological scholarship pays tribute to an extraordinary friendship of Protestant and Jew.
William Dyrness and Christi Wells
Edwards’s aesthetics grounded in the ongoing work of God communicated in creation, not only lies at the centre of his thought but is increasingly recognized as one of his most original contributions to theology. Edwards’s reflection on God’s beauty emerged in the context of his work as a pastor, which allowed him to frame God’s dynamic presence in dramatic and multi-sensory categories. For Edwards Beauty glimpsed in the form of images formed in the mind reflects a consent of being; the visual beauty of symmetry and proportion is meant to move the heart to consent to the will of God reflected in creation—what Edwards calls respectively secondary and primary beauty. All creatures are types and shadows of spiritual realities; beauty and morality are linked, though only the Holy Spirit allows believers to consent to God’s self-disclosure in creation. Edwards’s neo-platonic framework allowed his reflections on the revivals to affirm physical beauty while subordinating its meaning to the spiritual, enhancing its role as revelation but diminishing its value as an end in itself.
Adriaan C. Neele
Jonathan Edwards’s attention to Africa cannot go unnoticed, as articulated in his A History of the Work of Redemption. Less attention, however, has been given to the reception of Edwards’s works in Africa. This absence in Edwardsean research is remarkable, as many of his works have been reprinted, translated, and published from the eighteenth century onwards, particularly by those who had a vested interest in missionary movements and societies labouring throughout Africa. In fact, the reception of Edwards’s thought in Africa is primarily through the work of nineteenth-century missionaries and missionary societies—willing or unwilling participants of the colonial European expansion in Africa. Several of his works translated into Arabic, Dutch, English, French, and German found their way from Cairo to Cape Town. This chapter, then, is a preliminary overview from North Africa to Southern Africa of the distribution, use, and appropriation of some of Edwards’s works throughout the continent.
Heather A. Warren
Reinhold Niebuhr’s ability to analyse the most fundamental aspects of human existence and reckon with them on the grandest scale has remained relevant for American foreign policy since the 1930s. In the contexts of the interwar years, the Second World War, the immediate post-war world, and the Cold War, Niebuhr called attention to the importance of justice, pride, national interest, and prudence in deliberations about the United States’ responsibilities in an interdependent world that faced the menace of communism. The Irony of American History (1952) was his extended examination of America in the new international system, and it included recommendations to guide the making of American foreign policy. Niebuhr’s principles provide insight into US successes and failures in the Vietnam, Bosnian, and Gulf Wars.
Adam D. McCoy OHC
Anglican monasticism began in the 1840s and was associated with the Anglo-Catholic movement. Women’s communities, which were focused on nursing, teaching, and social work, grew quickly, while men’s communities developed later and more slowly. Fears of Roman Catholicism initially caused new communities to avoid traditional forms of monasticism in favour of the more recent models of the Visitation, Daughters of Charity, and Mercy Sisters. Anglican monasticism quickly spread to North America, Africa, Asia, Australia, and Melanesia. The years since have seen the emergence of characteristically Anglican notions of community formation, rules, governance, and spirituality. The Second Vatican Council had a profound effect on the Anglo-Catholic movement, leading to significant changes in Anglican monastic communities—among them a greater willingness to experiment with different kinds of community life. Many areas of research are open.
This chapter considers the emergence of the complex relationship between Anglicanism and a broader evangelical movement (often known as ‘pan-evangelicalism’) which transcends denominational boundaries. The origins of this relationship goes back to the sixteenth century, but became especially important from the eighteenth century onwards as a result of the ‘evangelical revival’ in England, and its extended influence. The expansion of British colonial power was an important factor in consolidating and extending an evangelical influence within Anglicanism, especially on account of the role of entrepreneurial individuals and mission societies in propagating the Christian faith. The chapter concludes with reflections on the future of this relationship, given contemporary developments within both Anglicanism and evangelicalism.
This chapter explores Edwards’s theological anthropology from the perspective of his psychological understanding of the person, where the human intellect and volition reflect and participate in the Word–Spirit unity, distinction, and ordering in God. Special attention is paid to his idealist and dynamic human ontology, which rejects substance as its underlying reality. Yet, it is argued that Edwards’s particular versions of determinism and occasionalism, where the will is bound by causes though humans are not efficient causes, do not undermine his compatibilist account of free will. Under consideration are the critical roles the intellect and body play in the natural affections and the way in which true freedom coincides with the theocentric and integral nature of the religious affections. The chapter concludes with a description of Edwards’s embodied, dynamic, and relational dimensions of eschatological humanity.
Stephen J. Davis
This chapter, organized in three sections, reviews and critiques the history of archaeological practice and interpretation pertaining to early Christian monastic sites. The first section introduces readers to the development of cultural-historical, processual, and post-processual approaches in modern archaeology. The second and third sections address methodological problems related to the identification and dating of monastic remains. Selected case studies from the first millennium
Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom
This chapter explores the buildings and artefacts of late antique monastic sites in Egypt and Palestine. It uses household archaeology to examine the daily behaviours of those who lived in monastic settlements. Household archaeology combines methodologies from archaeology, anthropology, geography, and history. Its application enables us to read the archaeology of monasticism with greater sophistication, so that the artefacts and the places of ordinary life can be interpreted alongside other sources, such as liturgy, images, and texts. Archaeological remains offer an additional lens for reading monastic settlements as complex households or homesteads, and they permit us to write a more nuanced history of monastic life.
This chapter argues that the sensory, corporeal, and spatial practices of desert ascetics transmuted into a technique of Christian imperialism in the later Roman Empire. It is divided into two sections: ‘Fortress of the Ascetic Body’ and ‘Spatial Practice of the Ascetic Body’. The first section surveys ways in which the Christian body vanquished its classical counterpart through sensory, material, and spatial techniques. The second part of the chapter applies the corporeal theory established in the first section to build the architecture of the ascetic body, a new direction for scholarship in the field. The essay concludes by suggesting methods through which the material, sensory, and architectural world of late ancient asceticism travelled across the Alps to the monasteries of the early medieval North, where the ideal of the desert became part of the everyday experience of monks.
This short chapter considers the renewed interest in Niebuhr’s legacy from the middle part of the first decade of the twenty-first century, through the presidency of Barack Obama and into the era of Donald Trump, following his victory in the 2016 presidential election. It places what might be called the Niebuhrian ‘world view’—understood as Christian theology set upon an international historical canvas—against the backdrop of the so-called ‘crisis of world order’, about which much has been written since 2014. It argues that Niebuhr plays a similar role in American intellectual life as Edmund Burke has done in Britain and that his ideas continue to provide a useful guide to the world today.
Richard Finn OP
Christian asceticism began not in the desert or other monastic settings, but within the urban churches of the first three centuries. Teachings attributed to Christ and the Apostles, together with older beliefs from Judaism and Greek philosophy, variously influenced patterns of communal and individual asceticism: abstention from foods, sexual relations, and wealth. Communal fasting was practised weekly by many, and by most before the celebration of Christ’s death and resurrection. Literature, especially the apocryphal Acts, celebrated or advocated sexual abstention, but the relationship between these texts and social practices remains opaque. Widows and virgins were honoured for their sexual renunciation, which strengthened the purity of heart essential for prophecy and prayer. However, in the mid-third century Origen offered a highly persuasive account of asceticism within the individual’s struggle for holiness, and it was this struggle which was finally carried into the desert and the cloister.
This chapter gives an overview of the scholarship of Asian Edwardseans and the significant publications of primary and secondary sources on Edwards in Asia. There remains today little critical research on Jonathan Edwards’s influence in Asia or Asian Edwardsean scholarship. Thus, the significant contributions of Asian scholars to Edwardsean scholarship have been largely unacknowledged. This chapter begins by assessing the state of Korean Edwardseans, which is the second-largest group of Edwardseans in the world. Korean scholars, publications, and churches together reveal a robust engagement with Jonathan Edwards’s life and thought. Edwards’s influence on the Korean Church has rapidly accelerated in recent decades and is poised for continued growth. In addition to Korea, Japanese, Chinese, and Singaporean Edwardsean scholarship receives attention. Throughout the chapter, comments on the future of Asian Edwardsean scholarship are provided, including pointing out areas where further development remains necessary.
Because evangelicalism has been arguably the strongest expression of Christianity in Australia, Edwards, as one of its principal founders, has been a seminal presence. The explicit reception of his writings, however, was not extensive in the nineteenth century and was most evident among Presbyterian clergy. In the twentieth century he was central to the ‘marriage mysticism’ of the Reformed theologians attached to the New Creation Teaching Ministry headed by the Rev. Geoff Bingham, an Edwards aficionado. At the end of the twentieth century, Edwards was increasingly cited by both supporters and opponents of the Charismatic movement. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, he has been the subject of increasingly sophisticated academic inquiry. His spirituality and ecclesiology have been studied with a view to benefitting especially evangelical churches, while his trinitarian theology has been quarried by those, not necessarily evangelicals, who have been captivated by Edwards’s thinking on creation and design.
Scott G. Bruce
This chapter examines the history of the word ‘Benedictine’ in the Middle Ages. Although it is currently employed by scholars to describe cloistered communities loyal to the tenets of the Rule of Benedict, the term ‘Benedictine’ was not used in medieval Europe. Moreover, its use in contemporary discourse threatens to obscure the rich diversity and historical development of monastic practice in the Middle Ages, because it implies that all monks read and interpreted Benedict’s rule in the same way. After providing an introduction to the Rule of Benedict and its author, the chapter examines the varieties of monastic expression in medieval Europe, and it highlights neglected areas of research in the premodern Benedictine tradition.
Robert E. Brown
Jonathan Edwards’s exegesis brought together a remarkable constellation of issues in early modern thought and biblical interpretation. Although he lived on the frontier of the British empire, he lived intimately with the core philosophical and theological issues at the heart of that society. The Bible’s status as an unquestioned religious and social authority was under scrutiny during his lifetime, with many concluding that it was hopelessly primitive and outmoded. Edwards sought to fashion an interpretive approach that took seriously modern historical, scientific, and anthropological discoveries, while maintaining a high degree of confidence in the Bible as the revelation of God. Thus, he adapted much of his interpretation to modern categories of thought, while at the same time employing traditional modes of theological interpretation such as typology, miracles, and the analogy of faith. His exegesis served to underwrite all of his major theological treatises.
In Britain and Europe, Jonathan Edwards was first known as a revivalist. Early works such as A Faithful Narrative (1737), The Distinguishing Marks of a Work of the Spirit of God (1741), Some Thoughts Concerning the Present Revival of Religion in New-England (1742), and Religious Affections (1746) brought him international acclaim in the 1740s. Later works such as Freedom of the Will (1754) and Original Sin (1758) extended his reputation in Britain and Europe as a theologian and philosopher. His status as a revivalist and important American thinker depended on the booksellers, printers, and editors who worked behind the scenes to publish his works within his lifetime, and in the decades following his death in 1758. At the end of the eighteenth century, and into the modern era, intellectuals in Britain and Continental Europe began critically analysing Edwards’s thought; some of them celebrated him as an innovative Reformed theologian, with others pronouncing him as an archaic specimen of the past.
The chapter begins with an overview of the history of Christian monasticism in the various countries of Asia, giving attention to major publications in the field. It reconstructs the process of documenting early foundations and their later evolution, with particular reference to China, Korea, and Sri Lanka. It then considers the ways in which contemporary Western monasticism has responded to the manifold challenges of the Asian context. Two themes are explored: the creation of a distinctive ‘monastic missiology’ for Asia; and the role of some key figures in the historical encounter of Western monastics with their Eastern confrères. The chapter addresses, finally, the present state of Christian monasticism in Asia. It charts the number of Christian monasteries throughout Asia, and it identifies the major issues that now face Christian monasticism there.
D. Stephen Long
This chapter traces the development of Reinhold Niebuhr’s Christology through the course of his writings, arguing that his later work showed a fuller engagement with Christology. It then situates his Christology within a five-fold dogmatics based on (1) the doctrine of the incarnation; (2) Jesus’ life and mission; (3) his betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion; (4) his resurrection and ascension; (5) his promised return. Reinhold Niebuhr’s Christology has received diverse evaluations. Although some of that diversity is noted, this chapter is not primarily interested in resolving the conflicting assessments. Instead, it aims to offer a comprehensive interpretation of his Christological thought as a whole.
Anne E. Lester
Founded in 1098, the Cistercians grew to be one of the most important monastic orders of the Middle Ages, stretching from the shores of Scotland to the littoral of Palestine, from Greece to Poland. This chapter traces three major themes that have influenced the scholarship on the topic, namely the idea of the ‘order’, the role of women within it, and the notion of Cistercian decline or corruption. Administered from its first house, Cîteaux, in northern Burgundy, the Cistercian network included hundreds of houses for monks and nuns as well as granges and chapels administered by lay brothers and sisters known as conversi and conversae, all united within a complex filiation system. From the middle of the twelfth century the Cistercians pioneered one of the most influential administrative organizations of the premodern period and developed a distinctive spirituality and aesthetic that defined their ideal of community and monastic devotion.