Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Story of Christian Spirituality: Two Thousand Years from East to West

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

The Story of Christian Spirituality: Two Thousand Years from East to West

Article excerpt

The Story of Christian Spirituality: Two Thousand Years from East to West. Edited by Gordon Mursell. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press. 2001. Pp. 384. $35.00.)

Responding to the current interest in Christian spirituality, this volume offers essays by ten scholars on different periods and traditions: New Testament origins, the patristic era, Celtic and Anglo-Saxon spirituality, the medieval West, Eastern Christianity from the fourth to the eighteenth century, the Protestant tradition in Europe and America, Roman Catholic spirituality from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century, "the Anglican spirit," Russian spirituality, and spiritualities of the twentieth century. All this is framed by a short prologue and epilogue by the general editor, Gordon Mursell, who understands spirituality to denote"all that is involved in living 'according to the spirit'-a free dependence on grace, longing for what Paul calls the `fruits of the spirit' . . . and above all the experience of God the Holy Spirit at work within us" (pp. 9-10).

One point that distinguishes this book from a number of other histories of Christian spirituality is the large number of color illustrations, often taken from great works of art and flawlessly reproduced. Another characteristic is the frequent inclusion of brief passages (including poems and hymns) drawn from the works of spiritual writers, many of these set apart from the main text in boxes. The art in particular will surely contribute to the popularity of this book for the general reader.

Although the publisher advertises the volume as being addressed to college and seminary students as well, it may not serve so well as a basic textbook for introductory courses in Christian spirituality. …

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