Notable Books

Publications of Note

Christianity and Contemporary Politics: The Conditions and Possibilities of Faithful Witness, by Luke Bretherton (to be published 19 January 2010)

Book description:

Relations between religious and political spheres continue to stir passionate debates on both sides of the Atlantic. Through a combination of theological reflection and empirical case studies, Bretherton succeeds in offering timely and invaluable insights into these crucial issues facing 21st century societies.

  • Explores the relationship between Christianity and contemporary politics through case studies of faith-based organizations, Christian political activism and welfare provision in the West; these case studies assess initiatives including community organizing, fair trade, and the sanctuary movement
  • Offers an insightful, informative account of how Christians can engage politically in a multi-faith, liberal democracy
  • Integrates debates in political theology with inter-disciplinary analysis of policy and practice regarding religious social, political and economic engagement in the USA, UK, and continental Europe
  • Reveals how Christians can help prevent the subversion of the church – and even of politics itself – by legal, bureaucratic, and market mechanisms, rather than advocating withdrawal or assimilation
  • Engages with the intricacies of contemporary politics whilst integrating systematic and historical theological reflection on political and economic life


“I confess I did not think this book could be written. But it can be done because Bretherton has done it. He has written this marvelous book that engages the complex theoretical issues necessary to develop a constructive theological politics without losing sight of concrete social challenges associated with community organizing, immigration, and consumerism. Bretherton has set a new standard in Christian political reflection.” —Stanley Hauerwas, Duke Divinity School

“Sophisticated, erudite, deeply insightful, and written with a passion born out of political engagement. Bretherton pushes the field of political theology into fresh pastures … This book will serve many, not just political theorists and theologians.” —Gaving D’Costa, University of Bristol

“Luke Bretherton has provided us with the first fully-fledged theological theory of community-organising. It is a sparkling performance and heralds a new era in which communitarianism, virtue-ethics and faith-based social reflection are likely to make a real social, economic and political impact. Judging from the intellectual and practical energy displayed by this treatise, this new global phase may well have its fulcrum in London.” —John Milbank, University of Nottingham

Reading Genesis After Darwin, edited by Stephen C. Barton and David Wilkinson

Book description:

Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species has changed the landscape of religious thought in many ways. There is a widespread assumption that before Darwin, all Christians believed that the world was created some 6,000 years ago over a period of 6 days. After Darwin, the first chapters of Genesis were either rejected totally by skeptics or defended vehemently in scientific creationism. This book tells a very different story. Bringing together contributions from biblical scholars, historians and contemporary theologians, it is demonstrated that both Jewish and Christian scholars read Genesis in a non-literal way long before Darwin. Even during the nineteenth century, there was a wide range of responses from religious believers towards evolution, many of them very positive. Stephen C. Barton and David Wilkinson argue that being receptive to the continuing relevance of Genesis today regarding questions of gender, cosmology, and the environment is a lively option.

Contains essays by Walter Moberly, Francis Watson, Andrew Louth, Richard S. Briggs, John Rogerson, John Hedley Brooke, David Brown, David Wilkinson, David Clough, Jeff Astley, Stephen C. Barton, Ellen F. Davis, and Mathew Guest.

The Politics of Discipleship: Becoming Postmaterial Citizens, by Graham Ward

Book description:

Internationally acclaimed theologian Graham Ward is well known for his thoughtful engagement with postmodernism. This volume, the fourth in The Church and Postmodern Culture series, offers an engaging look at the political nature of the postmodern world. In the first section, “The World,” Ward considers “the signs of the times” and the political nature of contemporary postmodernism. It is imperative, he suggests, that the church understand the world to be able to address it thoughtfully. In the second section, “The Church,” he turns to practical application, examining what faithful discipleship looks like within this political context. Clergy and those interested in the emerging church will find this work particularly thought provoking.

Graham Ward is known for his thoughtful engagement with postmodernism and with contemporary critical theology. Here he provides an engaging account of the inherently political nature of postmodernity and thoughts on what it means to live the Christian faith within that setting. The Politics of Discipleship not only provides an accessible guide to contemporary postmodernism and its wide-ranging implications but also elaborates a discipleship that informs a faith seeking understanding, which Ward describes as “the substance of the church’s political life.”


“For some time now, Graham Ward has blended orthodox theology, biblical study, and cultural theory with an independent originality. Now he has added politics to this mix. The result is simultaneously a greater edge to his own theology and an imbuing of contemporary political theology with more realistic depth and practical prescience than it usually exhibits. An extremely significant volume in the present time.”—John Milbank, professor of religion, politics, and ethics, University of Nottingham

“Extraordinary! Ward does nothing less than help us see how ‘world’ and ‘church’ implicate each other by providing an insightful and learned account of the transformation of democracy, the perversities of globalization, and the ambiguities of secularization. Perhaps even more significant is his theological proposal for the difference the church can make in the world so described. This is an extraordinary book.”—Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke University

“In this book, Graham Ward boldly offers a fresh description of the consumer economy and the processes of globalization, examining the illusions they generate, the states of amnesia they call us into, and the slavery they impose. In the process, he constructs a counter-narrative of a Christian discipleship in the service of postmaterial values that is founded on an eschatological humanism and ecclesiology. The result is a new political theology, powerfully presented, rooted in Scripture and tradition, and fully engaged in reading the postsecular signs of the times.”—Peter Manley Scott, senior lecturer in Christian social thought and director of the Lincoln Theological Institute, University of Manchester

Plato’s Critique of Impure Reason: On Goodness and Truth in the Republic, by D. C. Schindler

Book description:

Plato’s Critique of Impure Reason offers a dramatic interpretation of the Republic, at the center of which lies a novel reading of the historical person of Socrates as the “real image” of the good. Schindler argues that a full response to the attack on reason introduced by Thrasymachus at the dialogue’s outset awaits the revelation of goodness as the cause of truth. This revelation is needed because the good is what enables the mind to know and makes things knowable. When we read Socrates’ display of the good against the horizon of the challenges posed by sophistry, otherwise disparate aspects of Plato’s masterpiece turn out to play essential roles in the production of an integrated whole.In this book, D. C. Schindler begins with a diagnosis of the crisis of reason in contemporary culture as a background to the study of the Republic. He then sets out a philosophical interpretation of the dialogue in five chapters: an analysis of Book 1 that shows the inherent violence and dogmatism of skepticism; a reading of goodness as cause of both being and appearance; a discussion of the dramatic reversals in the images Socrates uses for the idea of the good; an exploration of the role of the person of Socrates in the Republic; and a confrontation between the “defenselessness” of philosophy and the violence of sophistry. Finally, in a substantial coda, the book presents a new interpretation of the old quarrel between philosophy and art through an analysis of Book 10.

Though based on a close reading of the text, Plato’s Critique of Impure Reason always interprets the arguments with a view to fundamental human problems, and so will be valuable not only to Plato scholars but to any reader with general philosophical interests.


“With a rare combination of first-rate scholarship and exceptional clarity, Schindler addresses a contemporary crisis of thought that manifests itself in misological habits extending far beyond the academy. His beautifully crafted and deeply reflective articulation of the connection between goodness and intelligibility is more than a timely defense of reason: it is a major philosophical accomplishment.”—Jacob Howland, McFarlin Professor of Philosophy, University of Tulsa

“Schindler’s book is a welcome contribution to the new Platonism, demonstrating the interpenetration of argument and drama in the Republic holistically and in detail. His synthetic reading of the dialogue is based on close reading of the text and a wide knowledge of the history of Republic interpretation. He grounds his interpretation in thought-provoking views about broader questions, such as why Plato wrote dialogues, the historical versus the Platonic Socrates, the nature of philosophy, Socratic ignorance, and Platonic anonymity.”—Gerald A. Press, Professor of Philosophy, Hunter College & CUNY Graduate Center

God’s Zeal: The Battle of the Three Monotheisms, by Peter Sloterdijk

Book description:

The conflicts between the three great monotheistic religions – Christianity, Judaism and Islam – are shaping our world more than ever before.In this important new book Peter Sloterdijk returns to the origins of monotheism in order to shed new light on the conflict of the faiths today. Following the polytheism of the ancient civilizations of the Egyptians, Hittites and Babylonians, Jewish monotheism was born as a theology of protest, as a religion of triumph within defeat. While the religion of the Jews remained limited to their own people, Christianity unfolded its message with proclamations of universal truth. Islam raised this universalism to a new level through a military and political mode of expansion.

Sloterdijk examines the forms of conflict that arise between the three monotheisms by analyzing the basic possibilities stemming from anti-Paganism, anti-Judaism, anti-Islamism and anti-Christianism. These possibilities were augmented by internal rifts: a defining influence within Judaism was a separatism with defensive aspects, in Christianity the project of expansion through mission, and in Islam the Holy War.

Today these three religions are now called upon to adjust their relations from peaceful coexistence to dialogue: zealous collectives must become parties in a civil society.

Occidental Eschatology, by Jacob Taubes, translated by David Ratmoko (to be published 1 January 2010)

Book description:

Occidental Eschatology, originally Jacob Taubes’s doctoral thesis and the one book he published in his lifetime, seeks to renegotiate the historical synthesis and spiritual legacy of the West through the study of apocalypticism. Covering the origins of apocalypticism from Hebrew prophecy through antiquity and early Christianity to its medieval revival in Joachim of Fiore, Taubes reveals its later secularized forms in Kant, Hegel, Marx, and Kierkegaard. His aim is to show the lasting influence of revolutionary, messianic teleology on Western philosophy, history, and politics.

Combining painstaking scholarship with an unmatched scope of reference, Taubes takes a comprehensive approach to the twin focuses of political theology and philosophy of history. He argues that acceptance of the idea that time will one day come to an end has profound implications for political thought. If natural time is experienced as an eternal cycle of events, “history” is the realm of time in which human actions can make decisions to alter the progression of events. This philosophy asks that individuals take responsibility for their own actions and resist authority that claims to act on their behalf. Whereas universal history is written by the victors, the messianic or apocalyptic event enters history and gives a voice to the oppressed.



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(Sculpture by Sara Cunningham-Bell)

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