In February, Oxford University Press will release In Search of the Way: Thought and Religion in Early-Modern Japan, 1582-1860 by Richard Bowring (Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows:
In Search of the Way is a history of intellectual and religious developments in Japan during the Tokugawa period, covering the years 1582-1860. It begins with an explanation of the fate of Christianity, and proceeds to cover the changing nature of the relationship between Buddhism and secular authority, new developments in Shinto, and the growth of ‘Japanese studies’. The main emphasis, however, is on the process by which Neo-Confucianism captured the imagination of the intellectual class and informed debate throughout the period. This process was expressed in terms of a never-ending search for the Way, a mode and pattern of existence that could provide not only order for society at large, but self-fulfilment for the individual. The narrative traces how ideas and attitudes changed through time, and is based on the premise that the Tokugawa period is important in and of itself, not merely as a backdrop to the Meiji Restoration of 1868.
In February, Harvard University Press will release Clerical Households in Late Medieval Italy by Roisin Cossar (University of Manitoba). The publisher’s description follows:
Roisin Cossar brings a new perspective to the history of the Christian church in fourteenth century Italy by examining how clerics managed efforts to reform their domestic lives in the decades after the arrival of the Black Death.
Priests at the end of the Middle Ages resembled their lay contemporaries as they entered into domestic relationships with women, fathered children, and took responsibility for managing households, or familiae. Cossar limns a complex portrait of daily life in the medieval clerical familia that traces the phases of its development. Many priests began their vocation as apprentices in the households of older clerics. In middle age, priests fully embraced the traditional role of paterfamilias—patriarchs with authority over their households, including servants and, especially in Venice, slaves. As fathers they endeavored to establish their illegitimate sons in a clerical family trade. They also used their legal knowledge to protect their female companions and children against a church that frowned on such domestic arrangements and actively sought to stamp them out.
Clerical Households in Late Medieval Italy refutes the longstanding charge that the late medieval clergy were corrupt, living licentious lives that failed to uphold priestly obligations. In fashioning a domestic culture that responded flexibly to their own needs, priests tempered the often unrealistic expectations of their superiors. Their response to the rigid demands of church reform allowed the church to maintain itself during a period of crisis and transition in European history.