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Why Study The Past?: The Quest For The Historical Church [Paperback]

By Rowan Williams (Author)
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Item description for Why Study The Past?: The Quest For The Historical Church by Rowan Williams...

In this small but thoughtful volume, a respected theologian and churchman opens up a theological approach to history.

Publishers Description
The well-worn saying about being condemned to repeat the history we do not know applies to church history as much as to any other kind. But how are Christians supposed to discern what lessons from history need to be learned? In this small but thoughtful volume, respected theologian and churchman Rowan Williams opens up a theological approach to history, an approach that is both nonpartisan and relevant to the church's present needs. As he reflects on how we consider the past in general, Williams suggests that how we consider church history in particular remains important not so much for winning arguments as for clarifying who we are as time-bound human beings. Good history is a moral affair, he advises, because it opens up a point of reference that is distinct from us yet not wholly alien. The past can then enable us to think with more varied and resourceful analogies about our identity in the often confusing present.

Awards and Recognitions
Why Study The Past?: The Quest For The Historical Church by Rowan Williams has received the following awards and recognitions -
  • Christianity Today Book Award - 2006 Award of Merit - History/Biography category

Citations And Professional Reviews
Why Study The Past?: The Quest For The Historical Church by Rowan Williams has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Christianity Today - 04/01/2006 page 104
  • Christian Century - 06/13/2006 page 36

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
Pages   129
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.4" Width: 5.3" Height: 0.5"
Weight:   0.4 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2005
Publisher   Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
ISBN  0802829902  
ISBN13  9780802829900  

Availability  3 units.
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More About Rowan Williams

Rowan Williams Rowan Williams was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury in February 2003. His previous positions include Archbishop of Wales, Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity, Oxford and Dean of Clare College, Cambridge. He has taught theology for more than fifteen years in five continents, worked as a parish priest, and published widely. His previous publications include "Teresa of Avila" (1991), "Open to Judgment" (1994) and "Sergi Bulgakov" (1999).

Rowan Douglas Williams was born in Swansea, south Wales on 14 June 1950, into a Welsh-speaking family, and was educated at Dynevor School in Swansea and Christ's College Cambridge where he studied theology. He studied for his doctorate – in the theology of Vladimir Lossky, a leading figure in Russian twentieth-century religious thought – at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975. After two years as a lecturer at the College of the Resurrection, near Leeds, he was ordained deacon in Ely Cathedral before returning to Cambridge.

Rowan Williams on his Graduation, Christ's College Cambridge, with Parents Aneurin and Delphine Williams, 1971From 1977, he spent nine years in academic and parish work in Cambridge: first at Westcott House, being ordained priest in 1978, and from 1980 as curate at St George's, Chesterton. In 1983 he was appointed as a lecturer in Divinity in the university, and the following year became dean and chaplain of Clare College. 1986 saw a return to Oxford now as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church; he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1989, and became a fellow of the British Academy in 1990. He is also an accomplished poet and translator.

Rowan Williams and Jane Paul on their Wedding Day, 1981In 1991 Professor Williams accepted election and consecration as bishop of Monmouth, a diocese on the Welsh borders, and in 1999 on the retirement of Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thus it was that, in July 2002, with eleven years' experience as a diocesan bishop and three as a leading primate in the Communion, Archbishop Williams was confirmed on 2 December 2002 as the 104th bishop of the See of Canterbury: the first Welsh successor to St Augustine of Canterbury and the first since the mid-thirteenth century to be appointed from beyond the English Church.

Dr Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. He has written extensively across a very wide range of related fields of professional study – philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics – as evidenced by his bibliography. He has also written throughout his career on moral, ethical and social topics and, since becoming archbishop, has turned his attention increasingly on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.

As Archbishop of Canterbury his principal responsibilities are however pastoral – leading the life and witness of the Church of England in general and his own diocese in particular by his teaching and oversight, and promoting and guiding the communion of the world-wide Anglican Church by the globally recognized ministry of unity that attaches to the office of bishop of the see of Canterbury.

His interests include music, fiction and languages.

In 1981 Dr Williams married Jane Paul, a lecturer in theology, whom he met while living and working in Cambridge. They have a daughter and a son.

Rowan Williams was born in 1950.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History > General
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Church History

Christian Product Categories
Books > Bible Study > General Studies > Biblical History & Culture

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Reviews - What do customers think about Why Study The Past?: The Quest For The Historical Church?

A Discerning Overview of Church History  May 13, 2007
In 4 chapters and only 114 pages Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams gives a penetrating and discerning theology of church history. How has the church described what is unique to itself from the first early centuries, through the Middle Ages, the Reformation and modern times? Williams traces deep patterns of how the church has struggled through the pressures of different historical eras to witness to the unique community that is created by the work of God in Christ. A discerning look at the past will discover something strange and different from ourselves but in a way that helps us discover our community with the past in ways that will change how we see ourselves in the present and so face new challenges as we move into the future.
R U Ready?  Jan 10, 2007
Everyone will increase their knowledge of early Christian Churches. There
were significant diferences, culturaly, theological, and socialy to
understand. For those not knowledgable of the causes for those diferences
it may be slow going. The author should be acquainted with what WSC
calls the power of the English simple sentence, Unfortunately because
of the complex subject very few are present.
History repeats itself  Jan 3, 2007
The Archbishop does a fine job presenting the imortance of studying the past. Our history must be understood (actually learned) in order to wisely interpret our present spirituality and worship life. Many of us live a myopic spirituality, liking what we know and mostly only what we know. Rowan Williams pastors a large church (the Anglican communion) that is presented with divisions and is paying the price for the revisionist segment of the communion. The concept of via media is just one of the frames of reference that has come about due to an abismal lack of knowledge of Christian worship history. Hopefully this text will bring light into dark corners, not on specifics of theology but certainly on the importance of knowing our own history.
Faithful Narration  Oct 15, 2005
This is a must read for historians, and should be required reading for students entering Divinity School. Archbishop Williams gifts us with a candid picture of ecclesial scholarship from its inception on. It is not a detailed investigation into specific movements in church history, but reveals to the reader how specific movements tailored history in such a way that the 'winners' articulation of these occurrences prevailed--leaving us with a less than honest narration of that history. Williams presents an argument, much like Alisdair MacIntyre does in "Who's Justice? Which Rationality?," stating that 'we need to understand the other on the other's own grounds.' And in Williams' case, we need to do the grunt work necessary for doing history so to contextualize each period, as best as we can, as the events and language would have been understood to those who actually lived them. (As MacIntyre put it, 'languages can be learned, but they cannot be translated'). This does not mean that tradition and doctrine cannot be timeless. It does, however, mean that they must undergo constant renewal in the community through, as Williams puts it (using the language of Georges Florovsky), the "charismatic memory" as it is located in the liturgical activity of the church.

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