"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, February 2, 2011

The Church in Council

I know not a few who call themselves Christian who are complete naifs when it comes to Christian history in general, and doctrinal history in particular. But then too many people today are too ignorant of history, and this includes many Christians who seem to think that, e.g., the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed fell from the sky one day during lunch. They are, or at least affect to be, horrified when they learn of the process of deliberation, including heated confrontation and division, that went into the councils of the Church and the formation of her creeds and canons.

We have a new book out to give fresh examination of not only all the councils, but the whole idea of conciliarity or sobornost:

Norman Tanner, The Church in Council: Conciliar Movements, Religious Practice and the Papacy from Nicea to Vatican II (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011), 272pp.

Norman Tanner, a Jesuit, has done extremely important historical work as well as work on the councils in previous books, including his two-volume critical edition of the conciliar decrees from Nicaea I to Vatican II. 

The publisher provides us the following blurb about the book:

Councils have been of fundamental importance to the historical development of the Catholic Church. From the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE to the reforming Second Vatican Council of 1962-5, the conciliar movement has more often than not represented the interests and prerogatives of the mass of the faithful: frequently -- especially from medieval times -- as a bulwark against the untrammelled supremacy of the Pope. Norman Tanner is arguably the outstanding scholar of church councils writing in English and his work provides an essential framework to our understanding of the development of Western Catholicism. In this volume, which assembles some of his best work on the topic, he reflects on the legacy of conciliarism, and shows how and why the apostolic spirit of Nicaea was to resurface at Vatican II.
The table of contents: 
Introduction * Is the Church too Asian? * Was the Church too Democratic? * The African church and the first five ecumenical councils * The Eucharist in the Ecumenical Councils * Mary in the Ecumenical Councils of the Church * Historiography of Vatican II in the Anglophone World * Ecumenism and the Ecumenical Councils * The Book of the Councils: Nicaea I to Vatican II * Ecumenical Councils and non-Christian Religions * The image of John XXIII and Paul VI in the Anglo-Saxon World during and after Vatican II * Greek Metaphysics and the Language of the Early Church Councils: Nicaea I (325) to Nicaea II * Appendix: Publications on Church Councils by Norman Tanner
I look forward to seeing The Church in Council: Conciliar Movements, Religious Practice and the Papacy from Nicea to Vatican II  reviewed later this year in Logos: A Journal of Eastern Christian Studies. 

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