"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, March 31, 2021

The Oxford Handbook of Ecumenical Studies

I was pleased and honoured to have been asked, nearly a decade ago now, to contribute to this forthcoming collection, part of a series of such Handbooks published by the world's most prestigious academic press: The Oxford Handbook of Ecumenical Studies, eds. Geoffrey Wainwright and Paul McPartlan (Oxford University Press, July 2021), 696pp. My chapter is on ecclesiology. 

As an editor myself of international scholarly collections, including my newest one, Married Priests in the Catholic Church, which likewise took nearly a decade to finish, I am well aware of how much one is at the mercy of contributors, and how long they can force you to drag things out by not submitting materials on time, or by (in some especially egregious cases) agreeing to submit and then not only failing to do so, but refusing all further communication in a vexatiously rude manner. I know from talking to Paul over the years that this forthcoming Handbook took much longer than was hoped--so much so that the other editor, Geoffrey Wainwright, died just over a year ago, before this book was in print. 

But at long last this Handbook makes its debut. About it the publisher tells us this:

The Oxford Handbook of Ecumenical Studies is an unparalleled compendium of ecumenical history, information and reflection. With essay contributions by nearly fifty experts in their various fields, and edited by two leading international scholars, the Handbook is a major resource for all who are involved or interested in ecumenical work for reconciliation between Christians and for the unity of the Church. Its six main sections consider, respectively, the different phases of the history of the ecumenical movement from the mid-nineteenth century to the present; the ways in which leading Christian churches and traditions, Orthodox, Anglican, Methodist, Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptist, and Pentecostal, have engaged with and contributed to the movement; the achievements of ecumenical dialogue in key areas of Christian doctrine, such as Christology and ecclesiology, baptism, Eucharist and ministry, morals and mission, and the issues that remain outstanding; various ecumenical agencies and instruments, such as covenants and dialogues, the World Council of Churches, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Global Christian Forum; the progress and difficulties of ecumenism in different countries, areas and continents of the world, the UK and the USA, Africa, Asia, South America, Europe, and the Middle East, ; and finally two all-important questions are considered by scholars from various traditions: what would Christian unity look like and what is the best method for seeking it? This is a remarkably comprehensive account and assessment of one of the most outstanding features of Christian history, namely the modern ecumenical movement.

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