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

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

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

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

Synopsis

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

Excerpt

“The church is always more than a school,” declares historian Jaroslav Pelikan at the beginning of his five-volume history of Christian doctrine. “But the church cannot be less than a school.” As time passes and new generations arise, the continuity and integrity of the Christian faith depend upon its transmission to newcomers. a parallel claim can be made regarding Judaism, a tradition that for millennia has observed God’s command through Moses to “take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children” (Deuteronomy 4:9). Teaching and learning have been woven into the fabric of Jewish and Christian communal life across the centuries and in countless social and cultural contexts. in each of these “religions of the book,” adherents have educated and formed one another in the tradition’s wisdom and way of life through numerous, diverse, and historically changing practices.

In recent decades this perennial necessity has become a matter of acute concern for those who care deeply about these traditions. Even though hunger for things spiritual is strong and widespread, religious groups shaped by centuries of theology, liturgy, and communal life often seem less attractive to contemporary Americans than do spiritual movements that offer newer, more free-floating approaches. the challenges to religious formation presented by an image-laden consumer culture with immense formative power of its own

1. Jaroslav Pelikan, The Christian Tradition: a History of the Development of Doctrine (Chicago: University of Chicago, 1971), 1:1.

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