The term ‘apocalypse’ denotes a particular literary type found in the literature of ancient Judaism, characterized by claims to offer visions or other disclosures of divine mysteries concerning a variety of subjects, especially those to do with the future. Cataclysmic events described in these texts are often labelled ‘apocalyptic’ because they resemble the world-shattering events described in John's visions in the book of Revelation. There is only one apocalypse in the Hebrew Bible, the book of Daniel, though the discovery of fragments of an Enoch apocalypse among the Dead Sea Scrolls suggests that apocalyptic was a widespread phenomenon in Second Temple Judaism. The concern with human history and the vindication of Israel's hopes echo prophetic themes, several of which have contributed to the language of the book of Revelation, particularly Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah.
In Greek forensic usage, an ‘apology’ (apologia) is a formal speech on behalf of the defendant. The first surviving works to bear this title professed to be records of the speech delivered by Socrates in reply to a capital charge in 399
Gesa Elsbeth Thiessen
The central role of the imagination in theology and religion has often been neglected by theologians. The chapter considers how the imagination and, in particular, artistic imagination, faith and theology are related. It provides a brief outline of perspectives on the meaning and function of the imagination in relation to faith and art by leading philosophers and theologians in history from the Hebrew Bible, Plato, and Aristotle to Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Kant, Burke, Schleiermacher, Schelling, and Kierkegaard. The chapter discusses the act of imagination as a fundamental source and requisite in faith, art, and creativity, in beauty and the sublime, in aesthetics, and in any development of human knowledge. The role of art is explored as a locus theologicus with reference to Tillich and contemporary theologians. Finally, the eschatological dimension as the ultimate link between artistic imagination and Christian faith concludes the chapter.
M. Daniel Carroll R. and Darrell L. Bock
Christians have always believed that the Bible is the most important resource for thinking about the moral life of individual believers and their communities. Many different kinds of issues arise—theological, hermeneutical, exegetical, and historical—when we use the Bible to help answer ethical questions. Christopher Wright takes very seriously the shape of Israel's laws, social structures, and contextual realities, and avoids the vagueness of a disembodied set of supposed eternal principles. This article provides an overview of the most salient topics that are foundational for a proper appropriation of the Bible, both those of a more general sort and those most significant for the Old and New Testaments. First, it discusses the authority of the Bible for ethics, the study of ethics as it pertains to the Old Testament, social and textual reconstruction, virtue ethics, ethics and the canon, and New Testament ethics. It also examines different models for ethics in the New Testament, such as the imitation of Jesus, Jesus-centered character ethics, and the biblical Jesus in combination with a theological matrix.
Peter S. Hawkins
Any consideration of the ‘Bible as Literature and Sacred Text’ must begin by recognizing the problematic nature of that deceptively simple conjunction, ‘and’. Although it may imply an easy equivalency, these two identities have never rested easily with one another. For centuries, appreciation for Scripture's artistry sprang from the devout conviction that its divine Author would offer nothing less than perfection. Now, by contrast, biblical writing is typically considered a human endeavour that warrants critical consideration for historical and aesthetic reasons. Given the Bible's importance to Western literature, people study it to gain some notion of the biblical literacy that until recently almost any writer both possessed and expected to find in a reader.
One of the great ironies of the history of theological writing in England is that Bishop Joseph Butler (1692–1752) viewed his intellectual projects – scientific in spirit, clouded only by the careful qualifications of his claims – as eminently practical extensions of his pastoral duties as a clergyman. This article suggests that in the rise and fall of Butler's influence, one can see the way in which religion in modernity has tended to become rationalized and secularized into a morality that has no need of faith. In the apologetic quest for rational arguments in favour of Christianity, Butler came to affirm the element of uncertainty in religious belief to an extent so disturbing in the Age of Reason. Butler's gradual recognition of the subtle ways in which people shape their propensity to believe led to an interest in church ritual and self-construction.
This article uses the term ‘equivocation’ to describe the sense in which Christian incarnational theology appears to have provided a resource or way of thinking about the embodied human condition. For British literary works produced across a period of over a thousand years, that is not wholly negative. Christian convictions about God's investment in the materiality of human existence bear witness to the perception of infinite human longings and seemingly endless possibilities, as well as our fearful limitations. British artists and commentators during this period have not all accepted the authority of a Christian approach, and in the last two or three centuries many have aspired to challenge the more negative or limiting emphases of its teaching. Arguably, the paradigm remains significant, yet it continues to provide both impetus and challenge to ongoing reflections on the nature of unavoidable human incarnation.
Often referred to as the greatest Anglican apologist of modern times, C. S. Lewis is also regarded as a ‘popular’ theologian. His theology seems to be primarily encapsulated in his theological digest Mere Christianity, but that work contains only a pale reflection of most of his theological thought. Lewis's academic writings have a clarity and lucidity that makes them attractive to the general reader. His theological works have the same qualities, but are written from his own perspective as a layman. Lewis's theology might be divided into three parts, each representing a stage in his own spiritual development. The three parts of his theological vision are supernaturalism, the nature of good and evil, and the process of redemption. Each aspect of this vision emphasizes the key issue of his Christian faith: the surrender of the self to God.
This article traces the history of the canonization of the Scripture in the context of Trinitarian doctrine. It presents a series of four vignettes illustrative of how early Christian interpretations of the fact and contents of the scriptural canon were determinative of its Trinitarian faith. These include the works of Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Athanasius, and Augustine. It shows that the fluidity of the canon in the first centuries does not appear to have affected Trinitarian doctrine but the development of the notion of canonicity itself speaks to the understanding of revelation at work in the development of Trinitarian doctrine. It also suggests that the canon of Scripture provides certain norms that shaped the development of Trinitarian doctrine, such as the identity of the God of the Old Testament with the God of the New, the rule of faith as an interpretive key and the Christological reading of Scripture.
Simon J. Gathercole
It is common in current scholarship on the apocryphal Gospels to emphasize that their claims to represent the ‘real’ Jesus are just as valid as the claims of the New Testament Gospels: there is nothing intrinsic to any particular Gospel which demands it be made canonical. However, an examination of the earliest Christian rule of faith common to the apostles, as encapsulated in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4, shows that that rule of faith emphasized the death and resurrection of Jesus, both in accordance with the Scriptures, as ‘of first importance’ in the apostolic gospel. We can compare a selection of early Christian Gospels with this rule of faith: this chapter examines the New Testament Gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, with the Gospels of Thomas, Philip, Mary, and the Nag Hammadi Gospel of the Egyptians. The result of a comparison of all these Gospels with the apostolic rule of faith is that the canonical Gospels are seen to conform to that rule, but the others examined do not. The New Testament Gospels, in contrast to the others, conform themselves to the pre-existing apostolic gospel.
The chapter first outlines Christological developments in relation to Judaism, Islam, and Hinduism. It provides snapshots from these critical moments showing both the enrichment of Christological thinking in these encounters, as well as the emergence of new problems. There follows an inspection of inculturation, the necessary precondition of fresh Christological exploration. There are difficulties involved in inculturation, including the establishment of criteria for orthodox inculturations. Finally, the chapter turns to two significantly disputed Christological features: the uniqueness of Christ; and the universal salvific efficacy of Christ. Both these features have been challenged by those who believe they are problematic for good interreligious dialogue. Overall, the chapter argues for the centrality of a high orthodox Christology as being helpful and constructive, not problematic, in interreligious dialogue.
Classical rabbinic literature comprises all those ancient Jewish literary compilations which transmit the traditions of tannaitic (70–200
This chapter explores the construction of evil and the strategies of violence in purification. Prurient fascination and righteous revulsion both recreate and repel each other, developing an anxiety of confusion that has resulted in many circumstances in community efforts to cast the subject, the symbol, of that confusion. Erotic prurience into the nature and deeds of Evil may remain as a living genre for centuries without lending itself to societies as legitimation for purge. Dramaturgy and procession can contribute to brutal but cathartic narratives of saints and monsters, martyrs, and their persecutors, into the immediate festival lives of communities. Furthermore, brutality and atrocity are recurrent characteristics of any culture, often aggravated in situations of historical stress independent of religious systems.
Since the 1970s, social scientists increasingly have cast human emotions in the arenas of culturally or linguistically constructed expression. A wide spectrum of theoretical terminology has been employed, including “constructionism” and “constructivist.” This essay reviews constructionist theories that bear on the study of religion and emotion. It analyzes constructionist theories as both determinist and relativist. It focuses on the recent historical ethnographic work of an important anthropologist of emotion, William M. Reddy. It also examines how religious emotions get constructed and what forms serve to give them expression. Generally, religious ritual is a form that can function in such a way so that the emotional lows of loss and grief are made less low. Conversely, ritual can heighten the feelings of joy and happiness at times of celebration. The construction of ritual form reflects specific religious traditions, yet cultures also share more broadly emotional forms for handling death, birth, marriage, and personal formation.
Cynthia Nielsen and Michael Barnes Norton
Gender, like race, is a controversial and volatile topic. We encounter one another as embodied and thus gendered beings. But what precisely is gender? What does it mean to be feminine? This chapter offers a philosophical analysis of the concept of gender and discourses about gender. The opening sections begin with a discussion of key terms and distinctions such as gender essentialism, gender as a social construction, the distinction between gender and (biological) sex, gender realism and nominalism, and so forth. Specific examples—both historical and contemporary—are employed to elucidate the claim that gender is socially constructed. Two sections are devoted to prominent feminist philosophers, Judith Butler and Linda Martín Alcoff. The topics addressed in these sections include: Butler’s notion of performing gender and her rejection of the gender/sex distinction, and Alcoff’s development of gender as positionality and fluid identity and her historically and materially sensitive version of gender realism.
In the days before universal literacy, linguistic style was most chiefly influenced by that which was heard being read aloud. The place where everyone was subject to this was in church at worship. The first major dose of this wholesome and improving medicine was administered by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer (1489–1556) through the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The collects provide a rich source of the Archbishop's art. The collect is a short and particular type of prayer that is a feature of the worship of Western Christianity. It asks for one thing and one thing only, and that in the tersest of language. To be good, it must have colour, rhythm, finality, a certain conciseness as well as vigour of thought; but it must be a united petition or it becomes something else rather than a collect.
In English literature and theology, the varieties of fictions about the End follow certain patterns and scattered genealogies, yet the connections to political and social realities of the times are always worthy of connection and comment. Death lyrics in poetic or prose form have a long history. These lyrics were popular in the Middle Ages in England, especially in the fifteenth century. Everyone will eventually die, and death treats all social classes equally. Literature responds, in poetry, sermons, novels and plays, to humour death. All these writers mentioned in this article faced these limitations of understanding death and the afterlife. These writers wrote in the context of plague; of their own and others' sickness; of existential dilemmas, sudden death, or funerals. They spoke out of despair, joy, memory, politics, and hope. In the face of death they dreamed of afterlives and saw visions of their own world transformed.
Desire and love have always been important themes in Christianity, but there is no self-evident meaning for either of these concepts. This chapter examines some important contributions in the history of theology to the understanding of each, and offers some steps towards a constructive theology that regards desire as an integrative part of love. If the problem with the dominant tradition during antiquity and the Middle Ages was that it separated eros from a legitimate sexuality, the problem of modern Christianity is that it has reduced desire to sexuality. It is not helpful to separate agape from eros, as this implies a theology for which important aspects of human longing fall outside its frame. An account of love that avoids narcissism and an economy of the same includes desire; a love without desire lacks the motor that moves us forward towards the other.
Karl Christian Felmy
This article explores the Byzantine theologies of the Trinity from the ninth through the fifteenth centuries. It discusses liturgical hymnody and art and analyzes the controversy over the Filioque with particular attention to the ninth-century Patriarch of Constantinople Photius. It also considers the Trinity doctrine of Patriarch Gennadios II and Gregory Palamas, whose approach was similar to that of Augustine except with regards to the Filioque and the divine energies.
The story of belief and doubt in modern literature begins with the emergence of open [CE1]unbelief at roughly the midpoint of the nineteenth century. For the first generation of writers—including such greats as Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Fyodor Dostoevsky—the sense of conflict and uncertainty was palpable, as they grappled on new ground with classic questions concerning the nature and existence of God, the problem of evil, and the meaning of human life. In the generations that followed, from the rise of naturalism to the heights of modernism into the postmodern, eclectic age we call our own, the overtly Christian nature of the question of belief began to recede from view, and a politically oriented understanding took center stage. To a significant extent, on matters having to do with the relationship between literature and belief, the twentieth century was to witness an ever-widening gap between the view of those matters from the ivory tower and the perspective from the pews and the private regions of the heart. As a result, while powerful theoretical developments were fueling academic skepticism about the role of religion within the academy, outside the academy’s walls men and women continued to grapple with God and to record their struggles for others to read, to hear, and to heed. Given the infinitely diverse and widely dispersed nature of modern culture, these individual accounts of faith and doubt perhaps have not had the same cultural resonance that the explosive explorations of the nineteenth-century writers did. Yet at the same time, they testify to the ongoing vitality of belief, and unbelief, in contemporary literature and experience. At their best, such works are marked by a creative pugnacity, and in their willingness to mention the unmentionable, they continue to serve as a counter-cultural force challenging the pieties of the modern literary and theoretical establishments.