Jones, “The Templars”

9780525428305Why waste your time reading tripe like The DaVinci Code when real history is so much more interesting? Here, from Penguin Random House, is a new history of the Knights Templar, The Templars: The Rise and Spectacular Fall of God’s Holy Warriors, by historian Dan Jones. The Templars were a Catholic lay order that fought in the Crusades and, incidentally, established an early global financial network. Eventually they ran afoul of the French monarchy, which pressured the papacy to dissolve them–see, there’s even a church-state angle. Here is the description from the publisher’s website:

An instant international bestseller, this major new history of the knights Templar by the bestselling author of The Plantagenets is “another triumphant tale from a historian who writes as addictively as any page-turning novelist.” –The Guardian

Jerusalem 1119. A small group of knights seeking a purpose in the violent aftermath of the First Crusade decides to set up a new order. These are the first Knights of Templar, a band of elite warriors prepared to give their lives to protect Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land. Over the next two hundred years, the Templars would become the most powerful religious order of the medieval world. Their legend has inspired fervent speculation ever since. But who were they really and what actually happened?

In this groundbreaking narrative history, the bestselling author of The Plantagenets tells the true story of the Templars for the first time in a generation, drawing on extensive original sources to build a gripping account of these Christian holy warriors whose heroism and depravity have so often been shrouded in myth. The Templars were protected by the pope and sworn to strict vows of celibacy. They fought the forces of Islam in hand-to-hand combat on the sun-baked hills where Jesus lived and died, finding their nemesis in Saladin, who vowed to drive all Christians from the lands of Islam. They were experts at channeling money across borders. They established the medieval world’s first global bank and waged private wars against anyone who threatened their interests.

Then in 1307 the Templars fell foul of a vindictive King of France, whose lawyers built a meticulous case against them. On Friday October 13, hundreds of brothers were arrested, imprisoned and tortured, and the order was disbanded amid lurid accusations of sexual misconduct and heresy. They were tried by the Pope in secret proceedings and publicly humiliated. But were they heretics or victims of a ruthlessly repressive state? Dan Jones goes back to the sources tobring their dramatic tale, so relevant to our own times, in a book that is at once authoritative and compulsively readable.

 

“Into All the World” (Nobbs & Harding, eds.)

Most legal scholarship on church-and-state focuses on the here and now. Occasionally, legal scholars focus on the history of church-state relations, but rarely further back than the post-Reformation settlement in the West. (Harold Berman was a notable exception). But the relationship between the Christian Church and the state goes back millennia. Here is a new book from Eerdmans which, among other topics, addresses the relationship between Christians and the Roman Empire in the apostolic and sub-apostolic eras, Into All the World: Emergent Christianity in Its Jewish and Greco-Roman Context, edited by Australian scholars Alanna Nobbs (Macquarie University) and Mark Harding (Australian College of Theology). The description from the publisher’s website follows:

9780802875150.jpgInto All the World—the third volume from editors Mark Harding and Alanna Nobbs on the content and social setting of the New Testament—brings together a team of eminent Australian scholars in ancient history, New Testament, and the early church to take the story of Christianity into the Jewish and Greco- Roman world of the first century.

In thirteen chapters, the contributors discuss all the post- Pauline New Testament writings, devoting attention to both their content and their context. They examine the impact of the growth of the church on both Jews and Gentiles, exploring issues such as the diaspora, minorities, the Book of Acts, and the Fourth Gospel. The book then proceeds to a discussion of the impact of Christianity on the Roman state, including consideration of the book of Revelation and the imperial cult. A final chapter investigates how the church was perceived by Clement of Rome at the end of the first century.

“Great Christian Jurists in English History” (Helmholz & Hill, eds.)

In May, the Cambridge University Press will release “Great Christian Jurists in English History,” edited by Mark Hill (FTB Chambers) and R. H. Helmholz (University of Chicago).  The publisher’s description follows:

The Great Christian Jurists series comprises a library of national volumes of detailed biographies of leading jurists, judges and practitioners, assessing the impact of their 9781107190559Christian faith on the professional output of the individuals studied. Little has previously been written about the faith of the great judges who framed and developed the English common law over centuries, but this unique volume explores how their beliefs were reflected in their judicial functions. This comparative study, embracing ten centuries of English law, draws some remarkable conclusions as to how Christianity shaped the views of lawyers and judges. Adopting a long historical perspective, this volume also explores the lives of judges whose practice in or conception of law helped to shape the Church, its law or the articulation of its doctrine.

“A Liberalism Safe for Catholicism?” (Philpott & Anderson, eds.)

In June, the University of Notre Dame Press will release “A Liberalism Safe for Catholicism? Perspectives from The Review of Politics,” edited by Daniel Philpott (University of Notre Dame) and Ryan T. Anderson is (Heritage Foundation).  The publisher’s description follows:

This volume is the third in the “Perspectives from The Review of Politics” series, following The Crisis of Modern Times, edited by A. James McAdams (2007), andWar, p03317Peace, and International Political Realism, edited by Keir Lieber (2009). InA Liberalism Safe for Catholicism?, editors Daniel Philpott and Ryan Anderson chronicle the relationship between the Catholic Church and American liberalism as told through twenty-seven essays selected from the history of the Review of Politics, dating back to the journal’s founding in 1939. The primary subject addressed in these essays is the development of a Catholic political liberalism in response to the democratic environment of nineteenth- and twentieth-century America. Works by Jacques Maritain, Heinrich Rommen, and Yves R. Simon forge the case for the compatibility of Catholicism and American liberal institutions, including the civic right of religious freedom. The conversation continues through recent decades, when a number of Catholic philosophers called into question the partnership between Christianity and American liberalism and were debated by others who rejoined with a strenuous defense of the partnership. The book also covers a wide range of other topics, including democracy, free market economics, the common good, human rights, international politics, and the thought of John Henry Newman, John Courtney Murray, and Alasdair MacIntyre, as well as some of the most prominent Catholic thinkers of the last century, among them John Finnis, Michael Novak, and William T. Cavanaugh. This book will be of special interest to students and scholars of political science, journalists and policymakers, church leaders, and everyday Catholics trying to make sense of Christianity in modern society.

Murray & Feeney, “Church, state and social science in Ireland”

In December, the Manchester University Press released “Church, state and social science in Ireland:Knowledge institutions and the rebalancing of power, 1937–73,” by Peter Murray (Maynooth University) and Maria Feeney (Maynooth University).  The publisher’s description follows:

The immense power the Catholic Church once wielded in Ireland has considerably diminished over the last fifty years. During the same period the Irish state has 9781526100788pursued new economic and social development goals by wooing foreign investors and throwing the state’s lot in with an ever-widening European integration project. How a less powerful church and a more assertive state related to one another during the key third quarter of the twentieth century is the subject of this book. Drawing on newly available material, it looks at how social science, which had been a church monopoly, was taken over and bent to new purposes by politicians and civil servants. This case study casts new light on wider processes of change, and the story features a strong and somewhat surprising cast of characters ranging from Sean Lemass and T.K. Whitaker to Archbishop John Charles McQuaid and Father Denis Fahey.

 

Burgess, “Holy Rus'”

In February, Yale University Press will release Holy Rus’: The Rebirth of Orthodoxy in the New Russia by John P. Burgess (Pittsburgh Theological Seminary). The publisher’s description follows:

new-rusA fascinating, vivid, and on-the-ground account of Russian Orthodoxy’s resurgence

A bold experiment is taking place in Russia. After a century of being scarred by militant, atheistic communism, the Orthodox Church has become Russia’s largest and most significant nongovernmental organization. As it has returned to life, it has pursued a vision of reclaiming Holy Rus’: that historical yet mythical homeland of the eastern Slavic peoples; a foretaste of the perfect justice, peace, harmony, and beauty for which religious believers long; and the glimpse of heaven on earth that persuaded Prince Vladimir to accept Orthodox baptism in Crimea in A.D. 988.

Through groundbreaking initiatives in religious education, social ministry, historical commemoration, and parish life, the Orthodox Church is seeking to shape a new, post-communist national identity for Russia. In this eye-opening and evocative book, John Burgess examines Russian Orthodoxy’s resurgence from a grassroots level, providing Western readers with an enlightening, inside look at the new Russia.

“Pope Gregory IX (1227–41)” (Egger & Smith, eds.)

In January, Routledge will release Pope Gregory IX (1227–41)edited by Christopher Egger (University of Vienna) and Damian J. Smith (Saint Louis University). The publisher’s description follows:

routledge-logoAs Cardinal Hugolino and as pope, Gregory was one of the dominant figures in the history of the papacy of the High Middle Ages. His pontificate was a key stage in the development of papal relations with many of the realms of Christendom, as well as in legal and administrative history, the battle against heresy (especially with the foundation of inquisitions), the crusades, and the flowering of the Mendicants. Hugolino came to prominence during the pontificate of his relative, Pope Innocent III, and played an important political role, particularly as legate on various occasions, as well as being a major promoter of the new religious orders. As pope, his battle with Emperor Frederick II is one of medieval history’s most absorbing conflicts (though one which rarely receives a balanced treatment). But he also acted as peacemaker in England, as promoter of the crusades in the East and in Iberia, where he met with considerable success, as instigator of mission for the sake of conversion, as a reformer of the Curia, and as a passionate advocate of Church reform generally. His decretal collection, compiled by Ramon de Penyafort, served as the canon law of the Catholic Church from 1234 until 1917. Yet Gregory has not received much attention since an Italian biography by Salvatore Sibilia was published half a century ago and a full examination of his pontificate is now very long overdue. The current volume brings together a team of international scholars, each of them expert in dealing with a particular aspect of the pontificate, and provides what will be a volume of lasting scholarly value on a central figure of the medieval papacy.

Killeen, “The Political Bible in Early Modern England”

In December, Cambridge University Press will release The Political Bible in Early Modern England by Kevin Killeen (University of York). The publisher’s description follows:

political-bibleThis illuminating new study considers the Bible as a political document in seventeenth-century England, revealing how the religious text provided a key language of political debate and played a critical role in shaping early modern political thinking. Kevin Killeen demonstrates how biblical kings were as important in the era’s political thought as any classical model. The book mines the rich and neglected resources of early modern quasi-scriptural writings – treatise, sermon, commentary, annotation, poetry and political tract – to show how deeply embedded this political vocabulary remained, across the century, from top to bottom and across all religious positions. It shows how constitutional thought, in this most tumultuous era of civil war, regicide and republic, was forged on the Bible, and how writers ranging from King James, Joseph Hall or John Milton to Robert Filmer and Thomas Hobbes can be better understood in the context of such vigorous biblical discourse.

Binns, “The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia”

This month, IB Tauris Publishers releases The Orthodox Church of Ethiopia: A History by John Binns (University Church, Cambridge). The publisher’s description follows:

the-orthodox-church-of-ethopiaSurrounded by steep escarpments to the north, south and east, Ethiopia has always been geographically and culturally set apart. It has the longest archaeological record of any country in the world. Indeed, this precipitous mountain land was where the human race began. It is also home to an ancient church with a remarkable legacy. The Ethiopian Church forms the southern branch of historic Christianity. It is the only pre-colonial church in sub-Saharan Africa, originating in one of the earliest Christian kingdoms-with its king Ezana (supposedly descended from the biblical Solomon) converting around 340 CE. Since then it has maintained its long Christian witness in a region dominated by Islam; today it has a membership of around forty million and is rapidly growing. Yet despite its importance, there has been no comprehensive study available in English of its theology and history. This is a large gap which this authoritative and engagingly written book seeks to fill. The Church of Ethiopia (or formally, the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church) has a recognized place in worldwide Christianity as one of five non-Chalcedonian Orthodox Churches.As Dr Binns shows, it has developed a distinctive approach which makes it different from all other churches.

His book explains why this happened and how these special features have shaped the life of the Christian people of Ethiopia. He discusses the famous rock-hewn churches; the Ark of the Covenant (claimed by the Church and housed in Aksum); the medieval monastic tradition; relations with the Coptic Church; co-existence with Islam; missionary activity; and the Church’s venerable oral traditions, especially the discipline of qene-a kind of theological reflection couched in a unique style of improvised allegorical poetry. There is also a sustained exploration of how the Church has been forced to re-think its identity and mission as a result of political changes and upheaval following the overthrow of Haile Selassie (who ruled as Regent, 1916-1930, and then as Emperor, 1930-74) and beyond.

 

Around the Web This Week

Here is a look at some law and religion news stories from around the web this week:

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