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Educating People of Faith: Exploring the History of Jewish and Christian Communities [Paperback]

By John Van Engen (Editor) & Dorothy C. Bass (Foreword by)
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Item description for Educating People of Faith: Exploring the History of Jewish and Christian Communities by John Van Engen & Dorothy C. Bass...

Overview
Foreword by Dorothy C. Bass A much-needed addition to the emerging literature on the formative power of religious practices, Educating People of Faith creates a vivid portrait of the lived practices that shaped the faith of Jews and Christians in synagogues and churches from antiquity up to the seventeenth century. This significant book is the work of Jewish, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant scholars who wished to discover and describe how Jews and Christians through history have been formed in religious ways of thinking and acting. Rather than focusing solely on either intellectual or social life, the authors all use the concept of "practices" as they attend to the embodied, contextual character of religious formation. Their studies of religious figures, community life, and traditional practices such as preaching, sacraments, and catechesis are colorful, detailed, and revealing. The authors are also careful to cover the nature of religious education across all social levels, from the textual formation of highly literate rabbis and monks engaged in Scripture study to the local formation of illiterate medieval Christians for whom the veneration of saints' shrines, street performances of religious dramas, and public preaching by wandering preachers were profoundly formative. Educating People of Faith will benefit scholars and teachers desiring a fuller perspective on how lived practices have historically formed people in religious faith. It will also be useful to practical theologians and pastors who wish to make the resources of the past available to practitioners in the present.

Publishers Description
A much-needed addition to the emerging literature on the formative power of religious practices, Educating People of Faith creates a vivid portrait of the lived practices that shaped the faith of Jews and Christians in synagogues and churches from antiquity up to the seventeenth century. This significant book is the work of Jewish, Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant scholars who wished to discover and describe how Jews and Christians through history have been formed in religious ways of thinking and acting. Rather than focusing solely on either intellectual or social life, the authors all use the concept of "practices" as they attend to the embodied, contextual character of religious formation. Their studies of religious figures, community life, and traditional practices such as preaching, sacraments, and catechesis are colorful, detailed, and revealing. The authors are also careful to cover the nature of religious education across all social levels, from the textual formation of highly literate rabbis and monks engaged in Scripture study to the local formation of illiterate medieval Christians for whom the veneration of saints' shrines, street performances of religious dramas, and public preaching by wandering preachers were profoundly formative. Educating People of Faith will benefit scholars and teachers desiring a fuller perspective on how lived practices have historically formed people in religious faith. It will also be useful to practical theologians and pastors who wish to make the resources of the past available to practitioners in the present. Contributors: John C. Cavadini Anne L. Clark Lawrence S. Cunningham Joseph Goering Robert Goldenberg Stanley Samuel Harakas Robert M. Kingdon Blake Leyerle Michael A. Signer Philip M. Soergel David C. Steinmetz John Van Engen Lee Palmer Wandel Robert Louis Wilken Elliot R. Wolfson

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Item Specifications...


Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   368
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 9.18" Width: 6.44" Height: 1"
Weight:   1.17 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2004
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802849369  
ISBN13  9780802849366  


Availability  56 units.
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More About John Van Engen & Dorothy C. Bass


Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Van Engen is Professor of History at the University of Notre Dame.

John Van Engen currently resides in the state of Indiana.

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6Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > Education
7Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Religious Studies > History


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Reviews - What do customers think about Educating People of Faith: Exploring the History of Jewish and Christian Communities?

Take a Captain Cook at this history of Christians educating  Apr 3, 2007
have a 20-year old copy of "A Faithful Church: Issues in the history of catechesis", edited by religious educator John H. Westerhoff III and New Testament scholar O.C. Edwards Jr. It is falling apart. Its pages are covered with my notes and highlighting. It is, as far as I can ascertain, the only copy in Perth; and as far as my external students can discover, the only copy in Australia.


My copy is used to make the licensed photocopies for students at Murdoch University. It has so many marginalia that I sometimes think I should copyright my notes and receive payments under the Copyright Educational copying scheme!


Westerhoff and Edwards commissioned chapters from a range of scholars to illustrate the history of how Christians have tried to pass on the Christian way of life to new members and new generations. Histories of religious education are rare. There are histories of evangelism, but religious education is different. Lawrence C. Cunningham defines it well: "Christian education is ... an education of both heart and mind, aiming to convert a person to a deeper existential grasp of faith." (van Ingen, 2004, 330).


So this new book, "Educating People of Faith: Exploring the history of Jewish and Christian communities", is the book I have been looking for these past twenty years. The new book does not replace the old book. They are different in origin and different in intent. I suspect however that I will keep these two books side by side, the two together making my Bible on Christian education history.

I am not sure which is Old and which is New Testament. However, the most notable differences can be explained by noting that Westerhoff is a religious educator, and van Engen, the editor of the new collection, is an historian. Each editor has mainly gathered authors from their respective disciplines. "A Faithful Church", the 1981 book, is written by mostly religious educators. Van Engen, a history professor at the University of Notre Dame, has gathered mainly historians, some specialising in church history, others specialists in eras dominated by the church.

This makes "Educating People of Faith" marginally less accessible to religious educators than the earlier book. By the same token, the newer book has more academic rigour, so the facts are patent of wider reliable interpretation. For example, chapters in "A Faithful Church" written by religious educators impose an education framework on their material: Ambrose of Milan is described firstly as instructor for the catechumenal process (A Faithful Church, 72-74), rather than as the bishop choreographing the whole church as it supports the baptismal rite.

In his introductory essay, John van Engen speculates on the lack of history about Christian formation. Two main reasons are adduced: firstly, formation in the faith does not stand out as a distinct theme in Christian history. It is called by different names at different times, and it takes on very different forms in different times.

In the Counter-Reformation, for example, processions for Corpus Christi were revived in Catholic Bavaria, not only to teach about the centrality of the Eucharist in Catholic theology, but also as a counter to the Reformation, whose teachers prohibited processions and downplayed the Mass in favour of the Word.

The second reason van Engen puts forward is that many of those engaged in historical writing in the Catholic church are religious brothers or sisters, and the concept of formation is too close for them to see. Products of their own formation as religious, they take for granted the processes that made them what they are now.

The newer book concludes with a chapter set to challenge many religious educators. "Spiritual Direction as Christian Pedagogy" claims to be simply tracing the trajectory of Christian mentoring from the Egyptian anchorites to the early modern period. In fact, Lawrence Cunningham does much more than tell a simple story. Using the historical data, he clarifies the definition of Spiritual Direction and discerns several types of one-to-one relationships which have claimed to be spiritual direction. He touches on Celtic spiritual friendships, the great medieval and Catholic Reformation directors, and how the Reformers took up the same practice under different names, some deliberately like Calvin and some through felt need.

He reminded me of the emphasis placed on being a mentor and having a mentor in the new evangelical mega-churches. This, is it not, is spiritual direction. But it can also be a profound education in the faith. In fact through all the examples from Antony of Egypt to Philip of Burswood, Western Australia, is not spiritual direction the most influential means by which mature Christians have taught the faith to younger Christians?

If you've read this far, you probably have no question about the value of studying RE history. The dearth of rigorous books in our field can make us feel downhearted. Who else cares?. I have a passion to see people formed in their faith so the world may be a more humane place to the glory of God. Books on the history of Christian formation and education are like the story of Captain Cook to Australians. We need to know our history to have some perspective on our efforts in the 21st Century.

What a gift the historians have made to our profession.

To carry the Captain Cook analogy further, the older book "A Faithful Church" is a little like a Grade 7 Social Studies text book version of the discovery of Australia, majoring on James Cook with large pictures of sailing boats. The newer book is more like a secondary text showing the patterns of exploration from the Malays in the 15th Century, to the French and the Dutch, leading up to English settlement in 1788.

The first book provides a useful outline and points out the very basic essentials. The second is more sophisticated, with more detail and nuance. Each has its own value.

"A Faithful Church", sadly, is long out of print. "Educating People of Faith" deserves a better fate. I can recommend it confidently to you, as a religious education practitioner, to be added to your collection of vital books



 
History of church and education  Oct 18, 2005
John Van Engen's book Educating People of Faith is a very insightful book. I was amazed at the amount of information that this one book contained. Yet, it was a very easy read. This was a well-written book. I was not easily distracted when reading it, and I did not feel as though it were dragging on and on. The author did a nice job of explaining and describing his ideas very well. I really enjoy church history, so this would be a great book for those who share the same interest or for those who wish to learn more about the history of education. Reading about the history of education in this book was fascinating because I had not thought about the concept of tracing the history of the church along with education before. Overall, a great book!
 
Wonderful Resource  Oct 10, 2005
Educating People of Faith is a fantastic resource with a lot of information available within. The book sets out to describe faith formation and education throughout a large scope of history and unless you have a specific time period in mind, this book may not be the most joyous of reads.

If, however, you are researching a particular time and faith formation and education is pertinent to your study, this is a great tool to use. Not only does it do a great job of stating the different arenas of faith, but it also gives a great historical context to put everything in perspective.

Particularly, the piece on Premodern Judaism is wonderfully effective and allows the reader to be put in the context of these people.

Overall, the book is well layed out and fairly accessible, but not a fast read. This work does make a great addition to any course work you may be doing on spiritual education and faith formation and I recomend it even though it is very dense and includes some information that you really don't need. It is worth the time reading it though.
 
Great Historical Perspective  Mar 25, 2005
Educating People of Faith

This is a unique history book. It not only does an outstanding job on explaining the history of the Jewish and Christian communities from ancient times to more current times. It explains both the historical perspective, but also the perspective of life as it was happening at the time. It makes history come alive when you can understand not only the practices, but the thoughts and rationale behind them.

The book encompasses a great deal of time, and thus a great deal of information. It takes a great deal of time to read and understand the depth of knowledge in this book. The chapters themselves do not have to be read in order. As such, you may be best served by reading only the chapters that are pertinent to the era that you are researching, or that interest you. (One of my favorite chapters is the very last one in the book.)

If you have the time and the desire to learn this history, it is a well-written book. It is also a book that stands alone as a fairly good reference tool.
 
Good history if you have the time  Mar 21, 2005
Educating People of Faith is a fairly long and dry read about religious practices that spans from Ancient Judaism to the Christian reformation in the 16th-17th centuries. There is a vast amount of material here, which can be useful if you have ample time to wade through the chapters. The object of the essays is to provide a better historical understanding of religious practices, by trying to grasp the complex nature of religious life throughout the history of the church. Van Engen wants to seek a middle ground position by attempting to be true to both historic and personal experience. The best this book has to offer is insight and stories which help us enter into different timelines of history through more personal encounters with the formative communities. While there is certainly much else to be learned from these essays, I would recommend the book for academically oriented people only. However, one key insight that may make the book worth your time is Van Engen's assertion that those who attend to past beliefs and practices appear to flourish, while those who ignore the past often have more trouble in the present.
 

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