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Beginning At Jerusalem - Five Reflections On The History Of The Church

Item Number: 18676

Catalog Code: BAJ-E

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Beginning At Jerusalem

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 General Description:

The Church lives in the "in-between" times. This book is a sustained reflection on this fact, on the meaning of the Church's life in time. It is at once a theoogy of history and the reflections of a practicing historian on Church history. Each chapter takes up a period of Church history and examines one or more of its central developments in relation to the present. If the Church is in time, in what sense does she retain her essence, in what sense develop? Is the Christianity formed in the earlier ages still accessible to people of the twenty-first century, or must it be radically reformulated? Are central Christian doctrines, formed according to the views and expressed in the language of earlier ages, still intelligible? How is a Christian to confront the age that is upon us?

The first chapter, centering on ancient Christianity, treats secularization and sacralization as simultaneously at work in all periods, and uses the writing of Church history itself to illustrate this. The argument is that no age has been decisively left behind, and in some sense all earlier ages walk with us.

Chapter two, on late ancient and early medieval Christianity, considers the development of the liturgy and uses what some would consider unpromising subjects, namely the development of the cult of the saints and angelology, to discuss the question of whether Christianity is tied to or best expressed in a cosmic liturgy.

The rich development of the medieval Church is the subject of the third chapter, especially the increasing exploration of the doctrine of the incarnation in relation to the formulation of distinctly Christian political and economic principles, the development of scholasticism, and the growth of subjectivity in religion as exemplified by such figures as St. Francis of Assisi.

The fourth chapter treats the Church in the world from Renaissance through Enlightenment, centering the discussion on the Ignatian themes of finding God in all things and doing all to the greater glory of God. The chapter raises the question of the nature of modernity and the Christian's proper response to it.

The final chapter structures a discussion of the Church at the turn to the third millennium around such problems as modernization, the determination of the signs of the times, and the desired relation of the Church to the larger culture. Two appendices develop the thought of the Catechism of the Catholic Church on the relation between prayer as Covenant Drama and history as the passage from shadow to reality. Througout, the thought of Hans Urs von Balthasar frames the discussion.

Glenn W. Olsen is a Professor of History at the University of Utah, with a Ph.D. in the history of the Middle Ages. He has contributed numerous articles to many historical journals and is also the author of the book Christian Marriage: A Historical Study.

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