In October, Augsburg Fortress released “Comprehending Christian Zionism: Perspectives in Comparison,” edited by Göran Gunner (Uppsala University) and Robert O. Smith (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America). The publisher’s description follows:
The issue of Christian Zionism is one that is fiercely debated within theology, the church, politics, and society. Comprehending Christian Zionism brings together an international consortium of scholars and researchers to reflect on the network of issues and topics surrounding this critical subject. The volume provides a lens on the history of Zionism within Christian theology and offers a constructive, multidimensional path for assessment and introspection around the meaning of Zionism to Christian faith and practice.
This month, Eerdmans releases “Christians in South Indian Villages, 1959-2009: Decline and Revival in Telangana,” by John Carman and Chilkuri Vasantha Rao. The publisher’s description follows:
A discerning study of a slice of modern Indian Christianity and Christian-Hindu encounter.
This book revisits South Indian Christian communities that were studied in 1959 and written about in Village Christians and Hindu Culture (1968). In 1959 the future of these village congregations was uncertain. Would they grow through conversions or slowly dissolve into the larger Hindu society around them?
John Carman and Chilkuri Vasantha Rao’s carefully gathered research fifty years later reveals both the decline of many older congregations and the surprising emergence of new Pentecostal and Baptist churches that emphasize the healing power of Christ. Significantly, the new congregations largely cut across caste lines, including both high castes and outcastes (Dalits).
Carman and Vasantha Rao pay particular attention to the social, political, and religious environment of these Indian village Christians, including their adaptation of indigenous Hindu practices into their Christian faith and observances.
Last month, Routledge released “The Russian Orthodox Church, 1917-1948: From Decline to Resurrection,” by Daniela Kalkandjieva (University of Sofia, Bulgaria). The publisher’s description follows:
This book tells the remarkable story of the decline and revival of the Russian Orthodox Church in the first half of the twentieth century and the astonishing U-turn in the attitude of the Soviet Union’s leaders towards the church. In the years after 1917 the Bolsheviks’ anti-religious policies, the loss of the former western territories of the Russian Empire, and the Soviet Union’s isolation from the rest of the world and the consequent separation of Russian emigrés from the church were disastrous for the church, which declined very significantly in the 1920s and 1930s. However, when Poland was partitioned in 1939 between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, Stalin allowed the Patriarch of Moscow, Sergei, jurisdiction over orthodox congregations in the conquered territories and went on, later, to encourage the church to promote patriotic activities as part of the resistance to the Nazi invasion. He agreed a Concordat with the church in 1943, and continued to encourage the church, especially its claims to jurisdiction over émigré Russian orthodox churches, in the immediate postwar period. Based on extensive original research, the book puts forward a great deal of new information and overturns established thinking on many key points.
Last month, Penguin released Christendom Destroyed: Europe 1517-1648, by historian Mark Greengrass (University of Sheffield (Emeritus)). The publisher’s description follows:
From peasants to princes, no one was untouched by the spiritual and intellectual upheaval of the sixteenth century. Martin Luther’s challenge to church authority forced Christians to examine their beliefs in ways that shook the foundations of their religion. The subsequent divisions, fed by dynastic rivalries and military changes, fundamentally altered the relations between ruler and ruled. Geographical and scientific discoveries challenged the unity of Christendom as a belief community. Europe, with all its divisions, emerged instead as a geographical projection. Chronicling these dramatic changes, Thomas More, Shakespeare, Montaigne, and Cervantes created works that continue to resonate with us.
Spanning the years 1517 to 1648, Christendom Destroyed is Mark Greengrass’s magnum opus: a rich tapestry that fosters a deeper understanding of Europe’s identity today.
Last month, Random House released the paperback edition of Visions of a Better World: Howard Thurman’s Pilgrimage to India and the Origins of African American Nonviolence, by Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt. The publisher’s description follows:
In 1935, at the height of his powers, Howard Thurman, one of the most influential African American religious thinkers of the twentieth century, took a pivotal trip to India that would forever change him—and that would ultimately shape the course of the civil rights movement in the United States.
When Thurman (1899–1981) became the first African American to meet with Mahatma Gandhi, he found himself called upon to create a new version of American Christianity, one that eschewed self-imposed racial and religious boundaries, and equipped itself to confront the enormous social injustices that plagued the United States during this period. Gandhi’s philosophy and practice of satyagraha, or “soul force,” would have a momentous impact on Thurman, showing him the effectiveness of nonviolent resistance.
After the journey to India, Thurman’s distinctly American translation of satyagraha into a Black Christian context became one of the key inspirations for the civil rights movement, fulfilling Gandhi’s prescient words that “it may be through the Negroes that the unadulterated message of nonviolence will be delivered to the world.” Thurman went on to found one of the first explicitly interracial congregations in the United States and to deeply influence an entire generation of black ministers—among them Martin Luther King Jr.
Visions of a Better World depicts a visionary leader at a transformative moment in his life. Drawing from previously untapped archival material and obscurely published works, Quinton Dixie and Peter Eisenstadt explore, for the first time, Thurman’s development into a towering theologian who would profoundly affect American Christianity—and American history.
This December, Harvard University Press will release “American Apocalypse: A History of Modern Evangelicalism” by Matthew Avery Sutton (Washington State University). The publisher’s description follows:
The first comprehensive history of modern American evangelicalism to appear in a generation, American Apocalypse shows how a group of radical Protestants, anticipating the end of the world, paradoxically transformed it.
Matthew Avery Sutton draws on extensive archival research to document the ways an initially obscure network of charismatic preachers and their followers reshaped American religion, at home and abroad, for over a century. Perceiving the United States as besieged by Satanic forces—communism and secularism, family breakdown and government encroachment—Billy Sunday, Charles Fuller, Billy Graham, and others took to the pulpit and airwaves to explain how Biblical end-times prophecy made sense of a world ravaged by global wars, genocide, and the threat of nuclear extinction. Believing Armageddon was nigh, these preachers used what little time was left to warn of the coming Antichrist, save souls, and prepare the nation for God’s final judgment.
By the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan and conservative Republicans appropriated evangelical ideas to create a morally infused political agenda that challenged the pragmatic tradition of governance through compromise and consensus. Following 9/11, the politics of apocalypse continued to resonate with an anxious populace seeking a roadmap through a world spinning out of control. Premillennialist evangelicals have erected mega-churches, shaped the culture wars, made and destroyed presidential hopefuls, and brought meaning to millions of believers. Narrating the story of modern evangelicalism from the perspective of the faithful, Sutton demonstrates how apocalyptic thinking continues to exert enormous influence over the American mainstream today.
In October, Rowman & Littlefield released “The Jesuits: A History from Ignatius to the Present” by John W. O’Malley, S.J. (Georgetown University). The publisher’s description follows:
As Pope Francis continues to make his mark on the church, there is increased interest in his Jesuit background—what is the Society of Jesus, how is it different from other religious orders, and how has it shaped the world? In “The Jesuits,” acclaimed historian John W. O’Malley, SJ, provides essential historical background from the founder Ignatius of Loyola through the present.
The book tells the story of the Jesuits’ great successes as missionaries, educators, scientists, cartographers, polemicists, theologians, poets, patrons of the arts, and confessors to kings. It tells the story of their failures and of the calamity that struck them in 1773 when Pope Clement XIV suppressed them worldwide. It tells how a subsequent pope restored them to life and how they have fared to this day in virtually every country in the world. Along the way it introduces readers to key figures in Jesuit history, such as Matteo Ricci and Pedro Arrupe, and important Jesuit writings, such as the Spiritual Exercises.
On Tuesday, December 2 at noon, Hudson Institute’s Center for Religious Freedom will host Dr. Amal Marogy, originally from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, to discuss “The Race Against ISIS: Efforts to Preserve Ancient Christian Culture in the Middle East.”
As ISIS continues to wage a campaign to eradicate the entire Christian presence and every trace of that ancient community’s existence in northern Iraq, a treasure of Christian patrimony, consisting of relics and manuscripts testifying to nearly two millennia of Christianity, is being systematically destroyed. Dr. Amal Marogy, originally from the northern Iraqi city of Kirkuk, fears that the ongoing jihadist religious cleansing of this 1,600-year-old Christian community means that Iraq’s Aramaic language and culture is in danger of dying out. ISIS has already burned some 1,500 biblical manuscripts held at the fourth-century monastery of St. Behnam, which was seized last summer in Nineveh. While some manuscripts, including those of Mar Behnam, have been digitized, many others have not.
Dr. Marogy is on an urgent mission to record the social history of her region, Duhok, and its Aramaic songs, prayers, and poetry. In 2013, she founded the Aradin Charitable Trust to help preserve Aramaic and the Christian heritage throughout the Middle East. She is an Affiliated Researcher in Neo-Aramaic Studies at Cambridge University and was previously Director of Studies in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies at King’s College.
Register for the event, which is in Washington, D.C., here.
You can also live stream the event on Hudson’s homepage.
This January, Fortress Publishing will release “Lutherans in America: A New History” by Mark Granquist (Luther Seminary). The publisher’s description follows:
The story of Lutherans in America is one of mutual influence. From the first small groups of Lutherans to arrive in the colonies, to the large immigrations to the rich heartland of a growing nation, Lutherans have influenced, and been influenced by, America.
In this lively and engaging new history, Granquist brings to light not only the varied and fascinating institutions that Lutherans founded and sustained but the people that lived within them. The result is a generous, human history that tells a complete story—not only about politics and policies but also the piety and the practical experiences of the Lutheran men and women who lived and worked in the American context.
Bringing the story all the way to the present day and complemented with new charts, maps, images, and sidebars, Granquist ably covers the full range of Lutheran expressions, bringing order and clarity to a complex and vibrant tradition.
Last month, Ashgate Publishing released Armenian Christianity Today: Identity Politics and Popular Practice, edited by Alexander Agadjanian (Russian State University for the Humanities). The publisher’s description follows:
Armenian Christianity Today examines contemporary religious life and the social, political, and cultural functions of religion in the post-Soviet Republic of Armenia and in the Armenian Diaspora worldwide. Scholars from a range of countries and disciplines explore current trends and everyday religiosity, particularly within the Armenian Apostolic Church (AAC), and amongst Armenian Catholics, Protestants and vernacular religions.
Themes examined include: Armenian grass-roots religiosity; the changing forms of regular worship and devotion; various types of congregational life; and the dynamics of social composition of both the clergy and lay believers. Exploring through the lens of Armenia, this book considers wider implications of ‘postsecular’ trends in the role of global religion.