There’s lots to look forward to in the next few months. Here’s just a few highlights:
Geoffrey Studdert Kennedy, often known as `Woodbine Willie’ because of his practice of distributing Woodbine cigarettes together with New Testaments to the troops, was undoubtedly the most famous World War One chaplain.
Stark, moving but with glimmers of humour amongst the wreckage, The Hardest Part asks perhaps the hardest question of all when faced with the horrors of the 1st World War – where was God to be found in the carnage of the western front?
Kennedy’s answer, that through the cross God shares in human suffering rather than being a `passionate potentate’ looking down unmoved by death, injury and destruction on an immense scale, was, and still is, revolutionary.
Marking the centenary both of the end of the First World War and the original publication of The Hardest Part, this new critical edition is edited by Thomas O’Loughlin and Stuart Bell. Available as a beautiful jacketed hardback, the book contains a contextual introduction, a brief biography of Studdert Kennedy, annotated bibliography and the full text of the first edition of the book, with explanatory notes.
Philip Jenkins, Distinguished Professor of History at Baylor University says “The editors have done a superb job of explaining the background to the man, and to the situation in which he found himself. The resulting book is a priceless contribution.”
In May comes The Bible and Disability: A Commentary, the first comprehensive commentary on the Bible from the perspective of disability.
The Commentary examines how the Bible constructs or reflects human wholeness, impairment, and disability in all their expressions.
Each of the fourteen contributors has worked at the intersection of biblical studies and disability studies; and through their combined expertise, the very best of both biblical studies and disability studies culminates in detailed textual work of description, interpretation, and application to provide a synthetic and synoptic whole.
The result is a close reading of the Bible that gives long-overdue attention to the fullness of human identity narrated in the Scriptures.
Also in May, we’ll publish a new theological commentary on Exodus – Mark Scarlata’s The Abiding Presence.
With an emphasis on the nature and importance of divine presence, “The Abiding Presence” provides a unique perspective on the overarching theology of Exodus drawing particular attention to God’s revelation at the burning bush, Sinai, and the tabernacle and reflects on how these themes were employed by New Testament authors in understanding the life and ministry of Christ.
Bridging the gap between accessibility and scholarly rigour, this commentary offers an excellent tool for ordinands, students, teachers in higher education and preachers to engage with the theology of the book in its Old Testament context as well as how its message is revealed in the New Testament and continues to spetoday.
Walter Moberla fine reading of the biblical text. Scarlata takes seriously both the complexities and the insights of modern biblical scholarship. He situates them, however, within an accessible literary and theological reading of the biblical text in its received form as an enduring witness to the ways, and presence, of God.
Walter Brueggeman describes the book as “a winsome accessible exposition of the Book of Exodus… of immense value for preachers, teachers, and serious church readers.”
Out of Nothing: A Cross-Shaped Approach to Fresh Expressions by Andrew Dunlop offers an account of his journey in starting a fresh expression, and along the way proposes an alternative theological foundation for evaluation – the Cross-Shaped approach.
Dunlop proposes a theological foundation which goes to the heart of God’s action in the world (drawing on Christology, atonement theories, and practical theology), informed by Karl Barth’s ecclesiology and Andrew Root’s development of Eberhard Jungel’s work on God acting ex nihilo. Both accessible and critically engaged, the book will provide an important resource for both pioneers and for those studying pioneer ministry.
The book is published in June.
How can the arts witness to the transcendence of the Christian God? It is widely believed that there is something transcendent about the arts, that they can awaken a profound sense of awe, wonder, and mystery, of something “beyond” this world. Many argue that this opens up fruitful opportunities for conversation with those who may have no use for conventional forms of Christianity.
In Redeeming Transcendence in the Arts Jeremy Begbie – a leading voice on theology and the arts – in employs a biblical, trinitarian imagination to show how Christian involvement in the arts can (and should) be shaped by a vision of God’s transcendence revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.
After critiquing some current writing on the subject, he goes on to offer rich resources to help readers engage constructively with the contemporary cultural moment even as they bear witness to the otherness and uncontainability of the triune God of love.
Again, the book is available in June.
Also coming in June is Seeking the God Beyond: A Beginner’s Guide to Christian Apophatic Spirituality.
Apophatic, or negative, theology attempts to describe God, the Divine Good, by negation, to speak only in terms of what may not be said about the perfect goodness that is God.
It is a way of coming to an understanding of who God is which has played a significant role across centuries of Christian tradition but is very often treated with suspicion by those engaging in theological study today. This book seeks to introduce students to this oft-misunderstood form of spirituality.
Beginning by placing apophatic spirituality within its biblical roots, the book later considers the key pioneers of apophatic faith and a diverse range of thinkers including C S Lewis and Keats – to inform us in our negative theological journey.
A final section explores what difference a negative theological approach might make to our practice and our liturgy.