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Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology: From the Fathers to Feminism [Paperback]

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Item Number 159919  
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Item Specifications...

Pages   520
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.56" Width: 5.56" Height: 1.07"
Weight:   1.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Apr 4, 2002
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0199250030  
EAN  9780199250035  


Availability  68 units.
Availability accurate as of Apr 25, 2017 02:33.
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Item Description...
Overview
Description Canon and Criterion in Christian Theology provides an original and important narrative on the significance of canon in the Christian tradition. Standard accounts of canon reduce canon to scripture and treat scripture as a criterion of truth. Scripture is then related in positive or negative ways to tradition, reason, and experience. Such projects involve a misreading of the meaning and content of canon-- they locate the canonical heritage of the church within epistemology--and Abraham charts the fatal consequences of this move, from the Fathers to modern feminist theology. In the process he shows that the central epistemological concerns of the Enlightenment have Christian origins and echoes. He also shows that the crucial developments of theology from the Reformation onwards involve extraordinary efforts to fix the foundations of faith. This trajectory is now exhausted theologically and spiritually. Hence, the door is opened for a recovery of the full canonical heritage of the early church and for fresh work on the epistemology of theology.

Publishers Description
This volume provides a narrative on the significance of canon in the Christian tradition. Standard accounts of canon reduce canon to scripture and treat scripture as a criterion of truth. Scripture is then related in positive or negative ways to tradition, reason, and experience. Such projects involve a misreading of the meaning and content of canon - they locate the canonical heritage of the church within epistemology - and William J. Abraham charts the fatal consequences of this move, from the Fathers to modern feminist theology. In the process he shows that the central epistemological concerns of the Enlightenment have Christian origins and echoes. He also shows that the crucial developments of theology from the Reformation onwards involve extraordinary efforts to fix the foundations of faith. This trajectory is now exhausted theologically and spiritually. Hence, the door is opened for a recovery of the full canonical heritage of the early church and for fresh work on the epistemology of theology.

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More About William J. Abraham

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! William J. Abraham is Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, United States.

William J. Abraham currently resides in the state of Texas. William J. Abraham was born in 1947.

William J. Abraham has published or released items in the following series...
  1. 80
  2. Armchair Theologians
  3. Oxford Handbooks


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Product Categories
1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation > General   [1848  similar products]
2Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Criticism & Interpretation   [0  similar products]
3Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Reference > Theology > General   [4167  similar products]
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Reviews - What do our customers think?
a discription is not a solution.  Dec 5, 2001
Professor Abraham's account of how the idea of cannon became increasingly limited to an epistemic norm is superb. However, I couldn't help wondering if the tacit suggestion wasn't that, since the early Christians didn't employ canon as an epistemic norm, we should all just stop thinking about epistemic norms when it comes to Christianity. To recover the fullness of the canonical tradition and expose the ways that the notion changed through history is one thing....but what is the underlying point? Do we really avoid epistemic pitfalls by merely changing the subject from "norms" to "canon?" I guess the answer really rests on whether the questions raised most prominantly in the Enlightenment have a kind of independant legitimacy, or whether we can ignore them by identifying them as historical artifacts. Abraham doesn't really spell out an epistemic proposal in his book, which leaves us all to speculate about whether one is even possible given the problems he so carefully uncovers. The book is best seen as an historical archeology of the idea of canon rather than as a constructive solution to the profound problems it documents. One can't help thirsting for more!
 
Book I Always Wanted To Read & Could Only Dream Of Writing  Mar 29, 2000
Abraham is an Oxford-trained evangelical Methodist who teaches philosophy and theology at SMU.

After describing that "canon" in the patristic era was larger than Scripture alone and included other items like the rule of faith, the Creeds, the Fathers, iconography, the episcopacy, and so on, he describes what an incredibly huge mistake to think of canon(s) in epistemic terms. Whatever else canons were, they weren't designed to answer philosophical questions re: "what can we know and how can we know it?"

However, as Abraham goes on to argue, that's exactly what the question of canonicity become in Western theology of whatever stripe -- liberal, feminist, conservative, fundamentalist, whatever.

Abraham makes the somewhat startling claim that it was the Reformation that is responsible for the large-scale confusion AND obsession in the West with epistemology. He argues (to my mind plausibly) that the history of modern philosophy, especially our infatuation with the "what can I know and how can I know it? questions, began with Luther and Calvin fracturing St Thomas' synthesis (which had its own problems) and the inability of Catholics and Protestants to solve truth questions based on the current terms of the discussion. Descartes' quest for certitude only makes sense in the carnage left over from the religious wars of the 16th & 17th century.

There's more than a bit of irony when Christians in the West both Catholic and Protestant devised various criteria to define what is true (versus the positions of their opponents) then suddenly find the criteria they devised used against themselves, or turned in directions they hadn't anticipated (the law of unintended consequences).

That philosophical and theological quest for certainty took on a life of its own after the Protestant Reformation. Abraham is quite a good story-teller. After describing the nature of "canons" in the patristic era, he recites the break between East and West, the theological and philosophical synthesis of St Thomas, goes through the Reformers Calvin and Luther, on to Descartes and Locke, to the Princeton theologians Hodge, Alexander, and Warfield, to John Henry Newman, Karl Barth, and finally down to the present day with the current feminist rewrite of the very notion of "authority."

C.S. Lewis once said any book worth reading once was worth reading twice. (Some books aren't worth reading once!)

I'm in my second reading, despite its non-Lenten nature.

 

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