Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Ancient and Modern: Anglican Essays on the Bible, the Church, and the World

Academic journal article Anglican and Episcopal History

Ancient and Modern: Anglican Essays on the Bible, the Church, and the World

Article excerpt

Ancient and Modern: Anglican Essays on the Bible, the Church, and the World. By Andrew B. McGowan. (Eugene, Oregon: Wipf & Stock, 2015, Pp. 337. $40.00.)

This collection of essays and sermons by Andrew McGowan, dean and president at Berkeley Divinity School at Yale Divinity School, was composed while he was at Trinity College at the University of Melbourne. The location of the composition of this book is significant since many of the pieces found in it are drawn from addresses and sermons given in Australia and reflecting on concerns prominent in the church in Australia in the early twenty-first century. As such, this book offers a reader from a North American context a strong sense of the debates and issues animating Australian Anglicanism. We gain a sense of this social location throughout the four sections on the Bible, early Christianity, Anglicanism, and sermons.

Several of the essays concerning the Bible intersect with issues at the forefront of current Anglican controversies. For example, in "The Strangeness of Scripture," McGowan addresses controversies about the authority of scripture, especially as articulated by the Global Fellowship of Global Anglicans. Reflecting on the traditional Anglican description of scripture as "God's Word written," McGowan argues that while this might be true, this phrase is not exhaustive of the Word of God itself as revelatory in Christological terms. That is, the Word of God was revealed to Christians via scripture, but not exclusively so. As a corollary, scripture is a gift to the church but a gift that the church is called to discern together.

A significant thread in these essays concerns questions of Eucharistic practice, which is not surprising from a scholar of recent important studies of the Eucharist in the early church. In the section on Scripture, McGowan approaches the question of communion without baptism in "Dangerous Eating: Jesus and Admission to Communion." Analyzing narratives about meals in both the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, McGowan cautions against reading these stories as primarily about inviting all to eat, regardless of any relationship with Jesus or other disciples. "This message is not first and foremost an ethical imperative to readers to include others; it is an invitation to consider themselves as the marginal who have been brought to the centre of God's hospitality" (38). …

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