"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).

Friday, February 14, 2020

Divine Guidance

In perusing the 2020 catalogue from Oxford University Press, I am delighted to find a familiar name, the name of a man who was and is both mentor and friend: John A. Jillions, author of the forthcoming Divine GuidanceLessons for Today from the World of Early Christianity (OUP, 2020), 336pp.

Fr John was on the faculty of the Sheptytsky Institute when it was still in Ottawa at Saint Paul University nearly twenty years ago now when I started my doctorate there. He sat on my jury for what became my first book, Orthodoxy and the Roman Papacy.

His own doctoral work had taken place in Greece but had never been published as far as I know. He told me it was on the subject of divine guidance, and now we are able to read what he wrote in this forthcoming book, set for official release next week in fact.

About Divine Guidance, Oxford UP tells us the following:
The twenty-first century opened with the religiously-inspired attacks of 9/11 and in the years since such attacks have become all too common. Over against the minority who carry out violence at God's direction, however, there are millions of believers around the world who live lives of anonymous kindness. They also see their actions as guided by the divine. How is divine guidance to be understood against the background of such diametrically opposed results? How to make sense of both Osama bin Laden and Mother Teresa?
In order to answer this question, John A. Jillions turns to the first-century world of Corinth, where Jews, Gentiles, and early Christians intermixed and vigorously debated the question of divine guidance. In this ancient melting pot, the ideas of writers and poets, philosophers, rabbis, prophets, and the apostle Paul confronted and complemented each other. These writers reveal a culture that reflected deeply upon the realities, ambiguities, and snares posed by questions of divine guidance. Jillions draws these insights together to offer an outline for the twenty-first century and suggest criteria for how to assess perceived divine guidance. Jillions opens a long-closed window in the history of ideas in order to shed valuable light on this timeless question.
We're also given some impressive and well-known "blurbers":

"By a comprehensive historical survey of literary and religious evidence from Greco-Roman and Jewish cultures, Fr. Jillions offers a brilliant analysis of Paul's letter to the Corinthians. Philosophical reflections about grace and free will, faith and reason, inspired Scripture and personal experience, encounter the cross. This book reflects that of all theological doctrines, the most challenging may be providence: does God sit idle in heaven, or does he exercise divine guidance in our lives?" -- David W. Fagerberg, Professor, University of Notre Dame

"John Jillions has written a book that is a splendid work of scholarship, and on a fascinating (if neglected) topic. But it is ever so much more than that: a rich, searching, moving meditation on some of the most essential dimensions of spiritual longing and religious hope." -- David Bentley Hart, author of The Hidden and the Manifest: Essays in Theology and Metaphysics.

"This is a work of original scholarship that breaks new ground. It is of interest to specialists in the field of New Testament studies and early church history, but it is written in such a way that it will also appeal to a wider field, including theology students in general, and clergy and laity who are not necessary academics. I predict it will become the standard treatment of the subject." -- Metropolitan Kallistos (Ware) of Diokleia.

I've already contacted Fr John to see if we can set up an interview on here about his book. Stay tuned!

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