Saturday, May 29, 2010

Pentecost season book review: Holy Spirit. Contemporary and Classic Readings

For too long the Spirit in Christian thought has been stereotyped, ignored as the forgotten person of the Trinity, left to the Charismatics and Pentecostals. With the church celebrating Pentecost last week, it is surely a season for us all to be reading around the third person of the Trinity. A book like The Holy Spirit: Classic and Contemporary Readings is well worth investing in. (Make sure you order the paperback edition, because the hardcover price is simply ridiculous).  The book gathers readings from across the centuries Р20th century, Syriac, Early Greek, Latin, Orthodox, Mystical. While there are a range of texts of the Spirit, this book does a superb job of gathering a rich range of material from diverse cultures and contexts.

A feature of the readings is their genre – while some are theology texts, others are sermons, or songs, or art works, or descriptions of liturgy. As such it reminds us of how much theological work can be done by the church – in our Pentecost sermons, in the songs we sing about the Spirit, in the art we promote, in the words we say at communion and baptism.

Each reading has a helpful introduction by the editor, theologian Eugene Rogers. (I’ve noted before here and here his excellent After The Spirit: A Constructive Pneumatology From Resources Outside The Modern West). Rogers’ introductions are worth the price of the book alone, drawing attention to nuance, layer and complexity.

One gripe is the lack of readings from the contemporary Pentecostal or charismatic world. There is now quite enough material to have provided such a section. Is the absence yet another indication that the problem the church has with the Spirit is not just historic, but still contemporary?

Posted by steve at 03:24 PM