"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).

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Indian Christian Traditions

Fortress Press recently sent me their fall catalogue and in it I spy three works focusing on the resplendently diverse Eastern and other Christian traditions in India and more broadly in southern Asia.

First up, published last month, is a new book by Roger Hedlund, Christianity Made in India: From Apostle Thomas to Mother Teresa (Fortress, 2017), 230pp.

The blurb from the publisher tells us the following:
Christianity Made in India: From Apostle Thomas to Mother Teresa discusses the indigenization of Christianity in the Indian context. It is set in the larger context of the exceptional growth of the church in the non-Western world during the twentieth century, which has been characterized by a diversity of localized cultural expressions. It recognizes that the center of Christian influence numerically and theologically is shifting wouthward to Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Increasingly, it is found in nontraditional (non-Catholic, non-Protestant, non-Syrian) churches of indigenous-independent variety, frequently charismatic, not necessarily Pentecostal, but of substantial evangelical and cultural diversity. Predominantly, it is a church of the poor. It affirms the reality that wherever the gospel goes, it takes root in the local culture.
Also published in October is D. Perman Niles' new book, Is God Christian?: Christian Identity in Public Theology: An Asian Contribution (Fortress, 2017), 216pp.

About this book the publisher tells us the following:
Is God Christian? Christian Identity in Public Theology: An Asian Contribution is a sequel to Niles's previous book, The Lotus and the Sun: Asian Theological Engagement with Plurality and Power, and continues the narrative of the social biography of Asian theology. It enters the theological efforts of the author's generation as a collective enterprise to survey methods that in the arena of public theology confront and reject the assertion that God is Christian or there is a Christian god among other gods. The focus is on the issues and questions that affect the people and societies of Asia. The theology envisaged here is not the kind that will confine itself within the Christian community but one that will have an import for the actors in public life. Asian Public Theology will be one that will be inherently interreligious in nature. Accordingly, the theological methods explored in this book are not concerned narrowly with problems in Christian theology, but rather with challenges posed for Christian theology in the wider arena of social and political life in Asia.
The last book draws our attention to a prominent Indian Orthodox hierarch about whom I was already hearing many glowing things when I was involved in the World Council of Churches in the 1990s and he was still alive. I was in Canberra in early 1991 for the seventh general assembly of the WCC, when Paulos Mar Gregorios was one of the WCC's presidents, and I recall his sailing serenely around the assembly with a lovely smile and avuncular air.

He died in 1996, but since then interest in his work and influence has held steady. The author himself of noted works, including Cosmic Man - The Divine Presence: The Theology of St. Gregory of Nyssa, he also edited a collection of important essays that were republished just this year: Neoplatonism and Indian Philosophy.

Now, this month, under the editorship of K.M. George, Paulos Mar Gregorios: A Reader has just been published by Fortress (368pp.).

About this book the publisher tells us:
Paulos Mar Greogorios: A Reader is a compilation of the selected writings of Paulos Mar Gregorios, a metropolitan of the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church of India and a former President of the World Council of Churches. The book deals with his thought in the areas of ecumenism, orthodox theology, philosophy, interfaith dialogue, and philosophy of science. The book will be of special value to the students of ecumenism, Eastern and Oriental Orthodoxy, Indian philosophy, interdisciplinary studies, and holistic education.

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