Thursday, August 24, 2006

Need a high-brow diversion?

To file in the 'Really only tenuously related to Puritanism but interesting nonetheless' folder:

Just recently I've discovered (for myself) a literary gem which was not only crowned the 'best work of fiction ever written' by a majority of modern authors polled in 2002, but which was penned by a contemporary of Perkins, Ames and Sibbes, and released during Puritanism's Stuart heyday. Those of you with a bit more 'culcha' will know I'm talking about Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote of La Mancha, a lengthy satire describing the adventures of an elderly, self-appointed 'knight errant' who roams about looking for wrongs to right in homage to his beloved 'Dulcinea'. It was published in two parts, in 1605 and 1615.

Don Quixote is unique, say literary scholars, because it bridged the gap between ancient and modern literature, combining a traditional formula (chivalrous odyssey) with heavy doses of modern irony and psychological subtlety. Some say it was the first modern novel.

Anyway, I wanted to share this because my wife and I bought tickets to see the ballet version of Don Quixote recently, and to ensure we didn't show up on the night without a clue about its plot, we actually started reading it. And in spite of our Southern roots (we're both from Texas, i.e., low on the 'culcha' scale) we like it. Mind you, we're only a few chapters into its 940 pages, but we're enjoying the ride. Perhaps you would too.

Be aware there are some modern English translations of the Spanish original, like this one -- and online ones too (why not?). So unless you're a martyr or a brilliant wielder of la lengua de los cielos, you needn't read an archaic English or Spanish version. Also be aware this classic may not be appropriate for younger readers, as it contains some 'adult situations'.

Lastly, I have to mention that the Cervantes Project, dedicated to preserving information on the life and work of this novelist, poet and playwright, is housed at my illustrious alma mater! Maybe the Lone Star State does have some 'culcha' after all ...

Black Bartholomew's Day

On this dark day in church history...

A multitude of French Calvinists were slaughtered for their faith (1572);

Nearly two thousand nonconformists were ejected from their pulpits (1662);

And the Puritan John Owen went home to glory (1683).

An Eyewitness Account of the Saint Bartholomew's Day Massacre
Francois Dubois (1790-1871)

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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Kapic on Owen's Communion with God

Mark your calendars! March 2007 will finally see the release of Kelly Kapic's excellent Communion with God: The Divine and the Human in the Theology of John Owen by Baker Academic.

Communion with God is an adaptation of Kapic's PhD thesis from King's College, London. He provides a fascinating discussion of Owen's important and much neglected work by the same title. He focuses specifically on Owen's theological anthropology and argues that he is best understood as an 'anthroposensitive theologian' meaning that Owen refused to drive a wedge between divine theological truth from human application. Employing a wide range of primary and secondary material, Kapic covers key topics such as the imago Dei, Christology, justification by faith, Trinity, and the Lord's Day and Lord's Supper. This book will be a must for anyone interested in Puritan theology, Owen studies, and post-Reformation thought.

Here is a short summary of Kapic's work taken from his thesis abstract:

The work outlines John Owen's conception of human communion with God. We argue that his anthropology is best understood by placing it within a framework of relations between God and humanity. What we discover is a Puritan approach that seeks to emphasize a holistic understanding of human existence and a Trinitarian sensibility grounded in an incarnational theology, held together by an experiential concern for the believer. Throughout our study we will see that Owen is best understood as presenting an anthroposensitive theology: he aims to avoid divorcing theological considerations from practical human application, since theological reflections are always interwoven with anthropological concerns. This is achieved primarily through this acknowledgement that fallan humanity's lack of communion with God can only be answered with a consistent Christological and Trinitarian emphasis.
Kapic is Associate Professor of Theological Studies at Covenant College. He is co-editor of The Devoted Life: An Invitation to Puritan Classics (IVP) and co-editor of the forthcoming re-make of Owen's Overcoming Sin and Temptation (Crossway).

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Monday, August 21, 2006

On this day in Puritan history (22nd August, 1642)

King Charles I raised his royal standard at Nottingham, officially initiating the English Civil War. (Let's hope Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad doesn't have similarly bellicose intentions today.)


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