"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, June 27, 2018

John Henry Newman

While John Henry Newman is a pivotal figure in 19th-century Western Catholic Christianity, he is unique insofar as he is not confined there or constrained by its categories--as so often happens to Western figures unknown in the East. Early in his life, half of which he spent as an Anglican of course, he was shaped by that uniquely patristic ethos of Oxford and the Church of England of his time (as Benjamin King has demonstrated in more detail than just about anybody in his book, Newman and the Alexandrian Fathers), and this formation made him of such interest to 19th-century Greek Orthodox thought that he was--as George Dion Dragas and C.S. Dessain had earlier showed--just about the only Western figure of that era to be translated into Greek and studied by Orthodox scholars.

Since his death in 1890, and more especially since the Second Vatican Council, the field of Newman studies has exploded, with many new books published and annual conferences organized about his thought, and journals devoted entirely to him. For those trying to find a place to begin in sorting out the riches of this vast world, you could start with a forthcoming collection set for release this fall: The Oxford Handbook of John Henry Newman, eds. Frederick D. Aquino and Benjamin J. King (Oxford UP, 2018), 640pp.

About this collection--edited by two who have published their own monographs and other collections on Newman--the publisher has this to say:
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) has always inspired devotion. Newman has made disciples as leader of the Catholic revival in the Church of England, an inspiration to fellow converts to Roman Catholicism, a nationally admired preacher and prose-writer, and an internationally recognized saint of the Catholic Church. Nevertheless, he has also provoked criticism. The church authorities, both Anglican and Catholic, were often troubled by his words and deeds, and scholars have disputed his arguments and his honesty.
Written by a range of international experts, The Oxford Handbook of John Henry Newman shows how Newman remains important to the fields of education, history, literature, philosophy, and theology. Divided into four parts, part one grounds Newman's works in the places, cultures, and networks of relationships in which he lived. Part two looks at the thinkers who shaped his own thought, while the third part engages critically and appreciatively with themes in his writings. Part four examines how those themes have shaped conversations in the churches and the academy. This Handbook will serve as an important resource to critical and appreciative exploration of the person, writings, controversies, and legacy of Newman.

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