"Let books be your dining table, / And you shall be full of delights. / Let them be your
And you shall sleep restful nights" (St. Ephraim the Syrian).

Thursday, July 11, 2013

New Books from Brepols

After a sojourn in New England, I returned to a number of catalogues announcing forthcoming fall publications, including several from Brepols: Brouria Bitton-Ashkelony and Lorenzo Perrone, eds., Between Personal and Institutional Religion: Self, Doctrine, and Practice in Late Antique Eastern Christianity (Brepols, 2013), 400pp.

About this book the publisher tells us:
The shift from Late Antiquity to Early Byzantium seen in the light of the mutual relations between personal and institutional religion. This book addresses change and continuity in late antique Eastern Christianity, as perceived through the lens of the categories of institutional religion and personal religion. The interaction between personal devotion and public identity reveals the creative aspects of a vibrant religious culture that altered the experience of Christians on both a spiritual and an institutional level. A close look at the interrelations between the personal and the institutional expressions of religion in this period attests to an ongoing revision of both the patristic literature and the monastic tradition. By approaching the period in terms of ‘revision’, the contributors discuss the mechanism of transformation in Eastern Christianity from a new perspective, discerning social and religious changes while navigating between the dynamics of personal and institutional religion.
Recognizing the creative aspects inherent to the process of ‘revision’, this volume re-examines several aspects of personal and institutional religion, revealing dogmatic, ascetic, liturgical, and historiographical transformations. Attention is paid to the expression of the self, the role of history and memory in the construction of identity, and the modification of the theological discourse in late antique culture. The book also explores several avenues of Jewish-Christian interaction in the institutional and public sphere.
Students of Maximus the Confessor will be interested in Joshua Loller, "To See Into the Life of Things" the Contemplation of Nature in Maximus the Confessor's "Ambigua to John" (Brepols, 2013), 357pp.

About this book we are told:
This work provides a synthetic treatment of Maximus the Confessor’s Ambigua to John, a collection of texts uniquely expressive of the speculative contours of his thought.
Maximus the Confessor (580-662) is one of the great minds of the Christian tradition and his Ambigua to John are a collection of texts uniquely expressive of the speculative contours of his thought. They have not, however, received a synthetic treatment until now. This work provides such a synthetic treatment and argues that Maximus’ central concern in the Ambigua to John is to articulate the nature of philosophy and, more precisely, the scope of the contemplation of nature (θεωρία φυσική) within the philosophical life, where "philosophy," the love of wisdom, is nothing less than the love of the Divine. Part I of this study provides a thorough background in Greek philosophical and patristic philosophies of nature, showing how Maximus’ predecessors understood knowledge of the world in relation to philosophical life, discourse, and praxis. Part II studies the contemplation of nature in the Ambigua and analyzes Maximus’ account of human affectivity in the world, his account of the coherence of philosophical life (praxis and contemplation) as a response to this affectivity, his understanding of the relation between God and the world, and his reconciliation of these various aspects of philosophy in the Christian economy of salvation, which he understands as the renewal of nature and its contemplation.
Finally,  students of the Church of the East, and the complex religious route known as the Silk Road, will be interested in Sam Lieu et al., Medieval Christian and Manichaean Remains from Quanzhou (Zayton) (Brepols, 2012), x+282pp.+ 127b&w ills.
About this book we are told:

Better known to western medieval travelers as Zayton, Quanzhou in Fujian was China’s main port and also the terminus of the Maritime Silk Road. The city was home to a cosmopolitan population especially when China was under Mongol rule (ca. 1280-1368 CE). Italian visitors to and inhabitants of the city included Marco Polo, Odoric of Pordenone and Andrew of Perugia. The city had a significant Christian population, both Catholic and Church of the East (Nestorian), and the nearby town of Jinjiang has to this day in its neighbourhood a Manichaean shrine housing a unique statue of Mani as the Buddha of Light. These religious communities left a wealth of art on stone which first came to light in Mid-Twentieth Century but is still very little known and studied outside China. This volume containing over 200 illustrations (many in full colour) is the work of a team of scholars from Australian universities in collaboration with the major museums in Quanzhou and Jinjiang and is the first major work on this unique material in a western language. The book will be of great interest not only to scholars of Manichaeism and of the Church of the East but also to scholars of East-West contacts under the Mongols.

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