Brief Book Note: Peter Brown’s “Ransom of the Soul”

I’ve wanted to read this book since it was first published in 2015. And I’ve had the paperback version on pre-order for a while. So I was thrilled when I got the notification that it had shipped, and knew that I would be able to put it at the top of my “books that I hope to read this summer” pile.

Peter Brown, The Ransom of the Soul: Afterlife and Wealth in Early Western Christianity (Harvard, 2018).

Now, you might find it odd, gentle reader, that I would be so interested in a book on the afterlife since I recently commented in another post that “It may be that death is a site of encounter with God. Beyond that, there isn't much one can say.” It’s the intersection of wealth with afterlife that made me curious. Here’s how I would summarize the question answered in this book:

How did Christianity in the first half-millennium leverage its vision of the afterlife in order to discipline wealth?
Brown answers that question, as we’ve come to expect from him, in exciting detail, with se…

So, You Want to Read Wolfhart Pannenberg? A guest post by Andrew Hollingsworth

[Ed. Note: Andrew Hollingsworth, PhD, is an adjunct professor of theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He tweets: @andrewh_mc11. He writes at Theology and Stuff, and Trinityhaus.]

So you want to read Wolfhart Pannenberg? Great! Why, you ask? I’ll tell you. Wolfhart Pannenberg was one of the most important theologians in Germany (and the world!) in the 20th century. Several theologians, such as Philip Clayton, Ted Peters, and Fred Sanders have noted in their obituaries for him that the world lost a theological giant on September 4, 2014. His three-volume Systematic Theology, though not as many volumes as Karl Barth’s Church Dogmatics, is one of the most significant contributions to the field, having one of the vastest scopes and one of the most ambitious aims of any before it. Pannenberg’s Systematic Theology is perhaps the most interdisciplinary one written to date. He is well known for a statement he made in an interview once: “Because God is the creator of everything…

Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

…or, Something to keep you busy over the weekend…

…or, The Past Fortnight in the Theoblogosphere.

It’s been so, so, so much longer than a fortnight since the last link post - way back in…August.


Lots has happened since then, obviously. Including Theology Beer Camp and ARR/SBL in Denver. And so on.

For instance, we’ve also seen the shuttering of Faith and Theology, long a premier online theological contributor. One hopes that Ben will change his mind, or at least throw up the odd post from time to time, but at present things don’t sound to hopeful in that regard. In any case, it certainly makes one think.

In more cheerful news, DET’s own Scott Jackson published a piece on Oscar Romero’s Political Theology over at The Christian Century, reviewing a recent book. That’s worthy of some celebration, in my humble opinion. Well done, Scott!

Princeton Theological Seminary has posted a lot of information regarding the role of slaves and slavery in its institutional history. I haven’…

St. Hereticus's Christmas Carol

Robert McAfee Brown (ed.?), The Collected Writings of St. Hereticus (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster Press, 1964).

Honestly, I’m having a hard time understanding how it is that only now in my theological education have I come across this gem of a volume. It is a must-read for anyone with a theological existence and a passing familiarity with 20th century theology and American church life.

Seriously, do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy. It will not fail to amuse and edify.

In that spirit, therefore, I offer below St. Hereticus’s retelling of the Christmas story - his "Christmas carol," if you will. As The Saint notes, “I have left the text [of this telling of the Christmas story] in the American koine” of the 1960s, although he offers a number of suggestions as to the various source materials that undoubtedly hide behind the redactor’s hand. You can find the following on pp. 75-77 in the text cited above.

The Gospel According to St. Hereticus
Chapter 2
[1] Onc…

“God Likes Diversity” - A Primer on Multicultural Ministry from a Metro Atlanta Church

I’m no expert on multicultural ministry. As a white male who migrated from the deep South through the Midwest to New England, I still struggle to come to terms with the racism encrypted in my own spiritual DNA and in the broader U.S. history and culture. Nor am I an ordained minister, but as one who has held lay leadership roles in congregations over the years, I’ve witnessed both the opportunities and the challenges of trying to live a life of faith within multiethnic and multicultural contexts.

All that said, I’ve been reading with keen interest a profile of Oakhurst Presbyterian church (USA) that Nibs Stroupe and his wife Caroline Leach pastored for nearly 35 years in Decatur, Georgia, a teeming and ever-gentrifying first-ring suburb of Atlanta. This historic parish was all-white through the Jim Crow area and struggled to come, first, to an acceptance of nonwhite members and eventually came to embrace a multiracial identity reflective of the changing general population. In more re…

The Praxis of Empathy - Michael Jimenez on Theology as Biography

The spirit of critique that dominates much work in the humanities and social sciences often leaves basic human empathy by the wayside. Michael Jimenez seeks to retrieve fellow feeling for the other through an ambitious project that bridges the disciplines of systematic theology and cultural history. For the teacher or researcher enmeshed in academic institutions in the United States and Western Europe, following the author’s lead means embracing the narratives and perspectives of writers across the two-thirds world -- those hailing, say, from Asia, Africa, or Latin America -- as well as those writers who emerge from marginalized communities within the one-thirds world. The author’s compass is quite broad -- spanning fields like black and mestizo liberation theologies, postcolonial theory, and Protestant dogmatics. Some specialists might balk at such an ambitious scope, but I find here a provocation that can inform and enrich an interdisciplinary approaches to theological and historica…

What’s the Deal with Wolfhart Pannenberg? A guest post by Andrew Hollingsworth

[Ed. Note: Andrew Hollingsworth, PhD, is an adjunct professor of theology at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. He tweets: @andrewh_mc11. He writes at Theology and Stuff, and Trinityhaus.]

Wolfhart Pannenberg was one of the most important theologians of the 20th century. Most students (and hobbyists!) of theology will have come across his name in their reading. Some of them may have stopped and looked twice. But by that time they may have noticed that he published a lot, and his writing can be dense, so they may have decided to circle back to him later. Sometime. Maybe. It’s a shame, though, because that would mean missing out on some of the richest theology written in the last century.

But what if these folks just need a little encouragement? A nudge to help them take a leap of faith into the Pannenbergian sea? That’s where this post comes in. I’m going to give you a brief overview of the life and work of Pannenberg, and show you why you should take the plunge!

A Religious Exp…