The Art of Preaching
Siegfried Wenzel Catholic University of America Press, 2013 Library of Congress BV4222.W46 2013 | Dewey Decimal 251
Based on his wide-ranging knowledge of late-medieval Latin sermons from England as well as his editorial experience with medieval Latin texts, Siegfried Wenzel offers critical editions of five instruction manuals on the "art of preaching" dating from 1230 to the fifteenth century. Four of the texts are edited and translated for the first time; the fifth is re-edited from all extant manuscripts. Each of the five sermons is accompanied by a facing-page translation into English. The book aims to stimulate interest and new research in a field that still awaits closer analysis of the relationships among existing treatises and of their historical development.
The growing awareness of the importance of preaching is a sign of our times. In the past decades, conscious that a renewal of preaching is essential for a renewed evangelization, many seminaries have implemented homiletic courses. However, there is still a real limitation of good and systematic resources in order to learn the theological depth and practical elements of the art of preaching.
The Art of Preaching: A Theological and Practical Primer aims to fill that gap. It explores the theological understanding of the homily, lessons from classical and contemporary rhetoric, the relevance of preaching for the life of the Church, highlighting recent teachings of the Magisterium, and it presents the incarnation as the foundation for preaching, understood as an essential aspect of the priestly life and mission.
This primer also offers a simple and effective method for the preparation and delivery of homilies, illustrating this by the example of brilliant preachers and exploring the idea of preaching as locus theologicus, i.e., the privileged place for the exercise of theology today. It is in deepening in the value and importance of preaching that theology can be renewed as a living and essential part of the daily life of priests. Seeing the homily not as a burden but as an occasion to fulfill the priestly identity will offer the opportunity to embrace the preparation for preaching as a key for unity among the many tasks and demands of pastoral life. In the homily prayer, study, and work come together.
The Art of Preaching will also provide a selection of homilies from the great preachers of the Church, organized chronologically, with brief introductions and commentaries that highlight what those homilies teach us for our preaching today. Only learning from the best preachers can we hope to preach effectively in our times.
Called to Holiness
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI Catholic University of America Press, 2017 Library of Congress BX1913.B39613 2017 | Dewey Decimal 248.892
This edited collection is the first to gather in one volume the most relevant addresses, speeches, and homilies of His Holiness, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI to seminarians and consecrated men and women into a single volume for the English-speaking world.
After converting to Mormonism in 1832, Brigham Young (1801-77) quickly rose to prominence and was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles within three years. He personally directed the highly successful 1839 proselyting mission to Great Britain, and he was appointed president of the Twelve Apostles the following year. In 1846-47 he oversaw the epic colonization of the Intermountain West.
Self-educated and preoccupied with the day-to-day business of his widespread empire, Young rarely found time to read. But he delivered hundreds of lively, extemporaneous sermons which blended common sense with theological speculation. Such homespun treatises carried an immediacy that was absent from the philosophically-oriented studies of his ecclesiastical colleague Orson Pratt, though, at the same time, Young’s speeches could be unfocused and contradictory.
Several of the more controversial teachings that Young promulgated—Adam-as-God, divine omniscience, and blood atonement—have sparked considerable debate since they were first uttered more than one hundred years ago. “Will you love your brothers and sisters likewise,” he once asked, “when they have committed a sin that cannot be atoned for without the shedding of their blood? Will you love that man or woman well enough to shed their blood?”
Other favorite topics were the “personality of God,” “election and reprobation,” and “the resurrection.” His sermons usually begin in a chatty way: “I remarked last Sunday that I had not felt much like preaching,” or “When I contemplate the subject of salvation, and rise before a congregation to speak upon that all-important matter, it has been but a few times in my life that I could see a beginning point to it, or a stopping place.” Readers will find themselves drawn into the rhythm of Young’s rhetoric in the same way as his original hearers were.
Through a careful examination of his extant sermons, some of which survive in Latin and others in classical Armenian, this book invites readers to hear a bishop's voice from the mid- fourth century, an important period in late antique Christianity
Edited and with commentary by Joan Greatrex, this book makes available for the first time in printed form the sermon manuscript, MS Q. 18, which survives in its original home in the medieval cathedral library at Worcester. At first glance this small, untidy quarto-size manuscript appears to be merely an unremarkable collection of early fourteenth-century Latin sermons. However, their importance lies in the fact that they appear to be a rare, if not unique, example of working copies of sermons, providing us with a glimpse into daily life in a medieval monastic community.
"C.L. Franklin, the most imitated soul preacher in history, was a combination of soul and science and substance and sweetness."--Reverend Jesse L. Jackson, from the Foreword
Few black preachers have been better known that the Reverend C. L. Franklin; none has been considered a better preacher. This collection of twenty of Franklin's best sermons shows the development of his style. A learned man, Franklin had attended both seminary and college, yet in his sermons used the old-fashioned, extemporaneous style of preaching, "whooping" or chanting, combining oratory and intoned poetry to reach both head and heart.
Dozens of Franklin's sermons were released on record albums, and he went on preaching tours with gospel groups that included his daughter, Aretha Franklin, reaching virtually every corner of the United States.
This volume begins with Franklin's life history, told in his own words.
In an afterword, Jeff Titon reviews the African-American sermon tradition
and Franklin's place in it.
Gregory of Nyssa’s fifteen Homilies on the Song of Songs offer an important resource for the history of Christian biblical exegesis, as well as for the history of Christian ascetical and spiritual teaching, and stand alongside Origen’s commentary on the Song as a source for the later interpretative tradition. In addition to offering the original text and an English translation of all fifteen homilies, Norris provides an analysis of the characteristic themes of Gregory’s ascetical teaching, emphasizes its connection in his mind with the institution of baptism, and stresses the degree to which Gregory sees the teaching of the Song as addressed not to a special class of believers but to any and all Christians.
Harbingers of Hope
William E. Hull University of Alabama Press, 2007 Library of Congress BX6333.H82 2007 | Dewey Decimal 252.061
In a world filled with disappointments and frustrations, here is a book that points to sources of enduring hope. Centuries ago, harbingers were trailblazers who went ahead of an army or royal party to find secure places where the group could camp and to announce their impending arrival. Dr. Hull uses scripture as a guide to the future that God is preparing for those who want the divine promises to be fulfilled in their lives.
The journey to which this book beckons has five stages. At the outset we meet a restless God of surprises who is never satisfied with things as they are. This encounter discloses the necessity of making transforming changes in our lives if we are to keep pace with the divine dynamic. Our reorientation toward an attitude of expectancy is not an end itself but provides the impetus for a lifelong process of growth toward maturity. Because this quest takes place in a world resistant to changes that challenge the status quo, there will be opposition, setbacks, even defeats that God endures with us as the cost of building a new tomorrow. In that struggle our task is not to flee or to fight but to bear a winsome witness in the confidence that God’s purposes will finally prevail over the human predicament.
Just as the crowing cock is a harbinger of dawn and the robin on the lawn is a harbinger of spring, these 27 messages become harbingers of a steadfast hope, as they help us to anticipate the new future that God is seeking to create for his weary world and as they invite us to actualize that future in the here and now.
Sophronios of Jerusalem Harvard University Press, 2020 Library of Congress BR65.S65 2020 | Dewey Decimal 252.014
Sophronios, born in Damascus around 560, was a highly educated monk and prolific writer who spent much of his life traveling in the Eastern Roman Empire and promoting the doctrines of the controversial Council of Chalcedon (451). The Homilies—like his poetry, biographies, and miracle accounts—bear eloquent testimony to his tireless struggle on behalf of Orthodoxy and the Christian way of life. The seven sermons collected here were delivered during his short tenure, at his life’s end, as patriarch of Jerusalem (634–638). He saw the Holy City capitulate to the Arab army (638). His Nativity Sermon (634), given while Bethlehem was under siege and his congregation was barred from the annual procession from Jerusalem to the birthplace of Christ, vividly reflects the approach of Islamic forces. Other targets of his venom include pagans, Jews, and despised heretics of all hues. Based on a completely new edition of the Byzantine Greek text, this is the first English translation of the homilies of Sophronios.
Homilies on Isaiah
Elizabeth Ann Dively Origen Catholic University of America Press, 2021 Library of Congress BS1515.54.O7513 2021 | Dewey Decimal 252
Hans Urs von Balthasar places Origen of Alexandria “in rank . . . beside Augustine and Thomas” in “importance for the history of Christian thought,” explaining that his “brilliance” has captivated theologians throughout history (Spirit and Fire, 1984, 1). This brilliance shines forth in his nine extant homilies on Isaiah, in which he employs his theology of the Trinity and Christ to exhort his audience to play their crucial role in salvation history.
Origen reads Isaiah’s vision of the Lord and two seraphim in Isaiah 6 allegorically as representing the Trinity, and this theme runs throughout the nine homilies. His representation of the seraphim as the Son and Holy Spirit around the throne of the Father brought early accusations that Origen was a proto-Arian subordinationist, followed by a pointed condemnation by Emperor Justinian in 553. These homilies, originally delivered between 245 and 248, are extant only in a fourth-century Latin translation. Though St. Jerome, likely because of these controversies, does not identify himself as the Latin translator, the evidence overwhelmingly points to his pen, and his reliability in conveying Origen’s authentic meaning is well documented.
If one sets aside the questionable charges of subordinationism, these homilies, expounding on passages from Judges 6-10, come alive with Origen’s legacy of presenting Christ as the central figure of the soul’s ascent to God. Reading allegorically the two seraphim to be Jesus and the Holy Spirit around the Father’s throne, Origen draws a picture of the Trinity as a tightly knit whole in which the Son and the Holy Spirit eternally sing the Trisagion (“Holy, holy, holy”) to each other and the Father about the divine truths of God’s nature, allowing the part of their song that conveys the “middle things” of salvation history to be heard by creation. The “second seraph” is the Son, or Jesus, who descends holding a hot coal, or Scripture, from the altar of the throne, with which he cleanses Isaiah’s lips, or the believer’s soul. Origen employs his signature exegetical method of allegory and typology through the lens of the threefold meaning of Scripture to emphasize to his hearers that Christ is the deliverer, the content, and the reward of the healing Word. He repeatedly assures them that those who submit to Scripture will enter into salvation history’s cycle of cleansing from sin, growth in virtue, and ever-deepening knowledge of God. As a result, they will become like Christ and thus will be prepared to join the Trinity for all eternity at the heavenly wedding feast.
Presented in this volume are the remains of twenty-two homilies and a collection of fragments delivered by Origen around A.D. 240. The original texts of the homilies on Jeremiah have not come down to us completely; two of the homilies survive only in a Latin translation of St. Jerome. The homily on I Kings 28, while not a part of the homilies on Jeremiah, deals with the Witch of Endor and has been added to this volume in virtue of its own inherent interest.
In 2012 Dr. Marina Marin Pradel, an archivist at the Bayerische Stattsbibliotek in Munich, discovered that a thick 12th-century Byzantine manuscript, Codex Monacensis Graecus 314, contained twenty-nine of Origen’s Homilies on the Psalms, hitherto considered lost. Lorenzo Perrone of the University of Bologna, an internationally respected scholar of Origen, vouched for the identification and immediately began work on the scholarly edition that appeared in 2015 as the thirteenth volume of Origen’s works in the distinguished Griechische Christlichen Schrifsteller series. In an introductory essay Perrone provided proof that the homilies are genuine and demonstrated that they are, astonishingly, his last known work. Live transcripts, these collection homilies constitute our largest collection of actual Christian preaching from the pre-Constantinian period.
In these homilies, the final expression of his mature thought, Origen displays, more fully than elsewhere, his understanding of the church and of deification as the goal of Christian life. They also give precious insights into his understanding of the incarnation and of human nature. They are the earliest example of early Christian interpretation of the Psalms, works at the heart of Christian spirituality. Historians of biblical interpretation will find in them the largest body of Old Testament interpretation surviving in his own words, not filtered through ancient translations into Latin that often failed to convey his intense philological acumen. Among other things, they give us new insights into the life of a third-century Greco-Roman metropolis, into Christian/Jewish relations, and into Christian worship.
This translation, using the GCS as its basis, seeks to convey, as faithfully as possible, Origen’s own categories of thought. An introduction and notes relate the homilies to the theology and principles of interpretation in Origen’s larger work and to that work’s intellectual context and legacy.
Committed abolitionist, controversial Quaker minister, tireless pacifist, fiery crusader for women's rights--Lucretia Mott was one of the great reformers in America history. Her sixty years of sermons and speeches reached untold thousands of people. Yet Mott eschewed prepared lectures in favor of an extemporaneous speaking style inspired by the inner light at the core of her Quaker faith. It was left to stenographers, journalists, Friends, and colleagues to record her words for posterity.
Drawing on widely scattered archives, newspaper accounts, and other sources, Lucretia Mott Speaks unearths the essential speeches and remarks from Mott's remarkable career. The editors have chosen selections representing important themes and events in her public life. Extensive annotations provide vibrant context and show Mott's engagement with allies and opponents. The speeches illuminate her passionate belief that her many causes were all intertwined. The result is an authoritative resource, one that enriches our understanding of Mott's views, rhetorical strategies, and still-powerful influence on American society.
Juana de la Cruz (1481–1534) is a unique figure in the history of the Catholic Church, thanks to her public visionary experiences during which she lost consciousness, while a deep voice, identifying itself as Christ, issued from her, narrating the feasts and pageants taking place in heaven. Juana’s so called “sermons,” collected in a manuscript called Libro del Conorte, form a fascinating window into Castilian religiosity in the early sixteenth century. There is much to reap from these sermons concerning Spanish Renaissance culture, theology, mysticism, gender roles, and interreligious interactions.
Widely regarded as perhaps America's greatest theologian, Jonathan Edwards still suffers the stereotype of hellfire preacher obsessed with God's wrath. In this anthology, Gerald McDermott and Ronald Story seek to correct that common view by showing that Edwards was also a compassionate, socially conscious minister of the first order.
Through a selection of sermons and primary writings, McDermott and Story reveal an Edwards who preached love toward all humanity regardless of belief or appearance; who demanded private and public charity to the poor; who criticized hard-hearted business dealings as impious and socially destructive; and who condemned envy and status-seeking as anti-Christian and anti-community. This "other" Jonathan Edwards preached about grace and the love of God but also about responsive constitutional government, the iniquities of hypocrisy and corruption, and the nature of wise leadership. He acknowledged the need for national defense but left room for popular revolt from tyranny. He anticipated a millennial age of peace and prosperity and believed that people should live in the world as they would live through grace in heaven.
Jonathan Edwards was, in sum, a worldly as well as spiritual reformer who resisted the materialistic, acquisitive, and individualistic currents of American culture. For these reasons, McDermott and Story think he may have lessons to teach us today.
Fresh translations of Meister Eckhart’s sermons are made available in this volume: three for the first time in English and sixteen others for the first time since C. de B. Evans translated them in 1924 and 1931, long before the critical editions of the manuscripts were published in 2003. Other important sermons are included in the translations as well. They improve upon previous translations which were not as sensitive to Eckhart’s metaphorical repertoire and his subtle word choice and phrasing.
The extended introductory essay describes Eckhart’s metaphors and how they work together to form a cohesive whole. By looking at what his metaphors tell us about what an individual person is and how the view of the individual changed in the late medieval world, his ostensibly shocking rhetoric (in places where it is actually novel) is shown to be indicative of a larger cultural tide that culminated in the modern worldview. Finally, all of his homiletic choices are shown to be in service of the greater goal: catalyzing transformative change in his audience by stubbornly insisting on his paradoxes and jarring people out of their customary way of relating to God and themselves.
Introducing modern readers to the riches of preaching in later medieval England, distinguished scholar Siegfried Wenzel offers translations of twenty-five Latin sermons written between 1350 and 1450. T
Italian preachers during the Reformation era found themselves in the trenches of a more desperate war than anything they had ever imagined. This war—the splintering of western Christendom into conflicting sects—was physically but also spiritually violent. In an era of tremendous religious convolution, fluidity, and danger, preachers of all kinds spoke from the pulpit daily, weekly, or seasonally to confront the hottest controversies of their time. Preachers also turned to the printing press in unprecedented numbers to spread their messages.
Emily Michelson challenges the stereotype that Protestants succeeded in converting Catholics through superior preaching and printing. Catholic preachers were not simply reactionary and uncreative mouthpieces of a monolithic church. Rather, they deftly and imaginatively grappled with the question of how to preserve the orthodoxy of their flock and maintain the authority of the Roman church while also confronting new, undeniable lay demands for inclusion and participation.
These sermons—almost unknown in English until now—tell a new story of the Reformation that credits preachers with keeping Italy Catholic when the region’s religious future seemed uncertain, and with fashioning the post-Reformation Catholicism that thrived into the modern era. By deploying the pulpit, pen, and printing press, preachers in Italy created a new religious culture that would survive in an unprecedented atmosphere of competition and religious choice.
This book examines the intersection of race, political sermons, and social justice. Religious leaders and congregants who discuss and encourage others to do social justice embrace a form of civil religion that falls close to the covenantal wing of American civil religious thought. Clergy and members who share this theological outlook frame the nation as being exceptional in God’s sight. They also emphasize that the nation’s special relationship with the Creator is contingent on the nation working toward providing opportunities for socioeconomic well-being, freedom, and creative pursuits. God’s covenant, thus, requires inclusion of people who may have different life experiences but who, nonetheless, are equally valued by God and worthy of dignity. Adherents to such a civil religious worldview would believe it right to care for and be in solidarity with the poor and powerless, even if they are undocumented immigrants, people living in non-democratic and non-capitalist nations, or members of racial or cultural out-groups. Relying on 44 national and regional surveys conducted between 1941 and 2019, Race and the Power of Sermons on American Politics explores how racial experiences impact the degree to which religion informs social justice attitudes and political behavior. This is the most comprehensive set of analyses of publicly available survey data on this topic.
The sermon as crafted by the early New England preachers was the most prominent literary form of its day, yet the earliest Puritan texts have as a rule been available only in rare-book collections. This anthology of sermons of the first generation of preachers fills a serious gap in American literature. The preachers collected here, the most widely published of their time, were among the eighty or more who emigrated to Massachusetts Bay during the 1630s. They are John Cotton of Boston, Thomas Shepard of Cambridge, and Thomas Hooker of Hartford, the three foremost "lights of the western churches," and two eminent colleagues, Peter Bulkeley of Concord and John Davenport, first of New Haven and later of Boston. The selections are chosen to be representative of the lengthy works from which they are drawn, to reflect the major concerns and styles of the preachers' work as a whole, and to demonstrate the genre of the sermon as developed by the early American Puritans. Not only does this anthology represent an important contribution to literary history, but the sermons also illustrate a doctrine uniquely elaborated in this period—a consistent and emphatic narrative, mythlike in its repetition and heroics, of the progress of the soul from a state of nature to a state of salvation. This theme may be seen as a three-stage-development, although individual sermons may vary. These stages—preparation, vocation, and regeneration—determine the order of the selections. The editors' introductory material supplies a comprehensive and thorough discussion of the early New England sermons, concentrating on their role, history, structure, style, and subject matter. A separate essay on the texts of the sermons describes the relationship between the early printed versions and their form as delivered in the pulpit. The introduction preceding each selection presents original research on the historical circumstances of the preaching and publication of the work from which the sermon is drawn. The editors have also provided brief biographies of the preacfiers represented here, an annotated list of recommended background reading, and the most exhaustive checklist available of authoritative editions of the sermons of these five preachers. This book will be useful to colonial specialists as well as to students of early American literature, religion, and history. The texts are critically edited for readability, with modernized spelling and annotations of unfamiliar phrases and allusions.
This volume presents for the first time in the Fathers of the Church series the work of an early Christian writer who did not write in either Greek or Latin. It offers new English translations of selected prose works by St. Ephrem the Syrian (c. A.D. 309-373).
Saint Leo the Great Catholic University of America Press, 1995 Library of Congress BR60.F3L42 1995 | Dewey Decimal 252.014
It would be practically impossible to understand this monumental transition from the Roman world to Christendom without taking into account the pivotal role played by Leo the Great. In this regard, his sermons provide invaluable data for the social historian. It was Leo--and not the emperor--who went out to confront Attila the Hun. It was Leo who once averted and on another occasion mitigated the ravages of barbarian incursions. As significant as his contribution was to history, Leo had an even greater impact on theology.
The authors included in this volume—Ilarion, Klim Smoljatic, and Kirill of Turov—are remarkable for both their personal and literary achievements. Appointed in 1051 by Prince Jaroslav the Wise, Ilarion was the first of only two recorded “native” metropolitans of Kiev. His “Sermon on Law and Grace” constitutes the finest piece of eleventh-century Rus’ rhetorical literature. Klim Smoljatic, the second “native” metropolitan of Rus’ (from 1147), is the author of the controversial “Epistle to Foma,” which addresses the debate over the proper nature and limits of Christian learning. Finally, the twelfth-century monk Kirill of Turov is best known for his collection of allegorical lessons and some of the most accomplished sermons of Kievan Rus’.The volume contains the first complete translations of the “Epistle to Foma” and the lessons and sermons of Kirill, as well as an entirely new rendering of the “Sermon on Law and Grace.” Simon Franklin prefaces the texts with a substantial introduction that places each of the three authors in their historical context and examines the literary qualities as well as textual complexities of these outstanding works of Rus’ literature.
Many of America’s greatest Protestant preachers—Paul Tillich, William Sloane Coffin, Barbara Brown Taylor, Fleming Rutledge, Peter J. Gomes, Billy Graham, and others—have spoken powerfully from the pulpit of the “great towering church” that is the spiritual and architectural center of Duke University. This collection of fifty-eight of the most notable sermons proclaimed from that pulpit commemorates the seventy-fifth anniversary of the groundbreaking for Duke Chapel. It is a sweeping panorama of sermons selected and edited by Bishop William H. Willimon, Dean of the Chapel for twenty years and one of the most widely read writers on preaching in America.
Opening with the sermon preached in June 1935 at the dedication of the Chapel and closing with one by Willimon delivered at the beginning of the 2003–4 school year, this volume presents Protestant Christianity at its most eloquent and prophetic. Some sermons are pure meditations on biblical texts; others are period pieces in the best sense of the term, reflecting on such contemporary concerns as civil rights, the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy, and the wars in Europe, Vietnam, and Iraq. Willimon provides a brief introduction to each sermon, commenting on the work and thought of the preacher. Diverse in subject and style, the sermons collected in this volume are a treasure for those who love fine preaching, a resource for those studying the history of homiletics, and a light to rekindle the memories of those who have worshiped in the Chapel over the years.
Time's Covenant offers a collection of the sermons and essays of William Clancy, one of the most vehement opponents of McCarthyism, who was also an ardent civil libertarian and literate commentator on the changing times of the 1950s and 1960s. The articles originally appeared in Commonweal, dubbed the journal of “liberal Catholics,” as well as the New York Times, Saturday Review and Worldview. Clancy reflects on authors Ignazio Silone, Arnold Toynbee, Walter Lippman, as well as American poets, the Dreyfus Affair, and liberal Catholicism.
In this volume, which concludes John W. Rettig's translation of St. Augustine's Tractates on the Gospel of John, Augustine applies his keen insight and powers of rhetoric to the sacred text, drawing the audience into an intimate contemplation of Jesus through the course of his Passion, Death, and Resurrection.
Since World War II, Protestant sermons have been an influential tool for defining American citizenship in the wake of national crises.
In the aftermath of national tragedies, Americans often turn to churches for solace. Because even secular citizens attend these services, they are also significant opportunities for the Protestant religious majority to define and redefine national identity and, in the process, to invest the nation-state with divinity. The sermons delivered in the wake of crises become integral to historical and communal memory—it matters greatly who is mourned and who is overlooked.
Melissa M. Matthes conceives of these sermons as theo-political texts. In When Sorrow Comes, she explores the continuities and discontinuities they reveal in the balance of state power and divine authority following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the assassinations of JFK and MLK, the Rodney King verdict, the Oklahoma City bombing, the September 11 attacks, the Newtown shootings, and the Black Lives Matter movement. She argues that Protestant preachers use these moments to address questions about Christianity and citizenship and about the responsibilities of the Church and the State to respond to a national crisis. She also shows how post-crisis sermons have codified whiteness in ritual narratives of American history, excluding others from the collective account. These civic liturgies therefore illustrate the evolution of modern American politics and society.
Despite perceptions of the decline of religious authority in the twentieth century, the pulpit retains power after national tragedies. Sermons preached in such intense times of mourning and reckoning serve as a form of civic education with consequences for how Americans understand who belongs to the nation and how to imagine its future.
Through countless retellings, from the Talmud to Archibald MacLeish and since, the story of Job has become a fixture in the cultural imagination of the West. In this study, Susan E. Schreiner analyzes interpretations of the Book of Job by Gregory the Great, Maimonides, Thomas Aquinas, and particularly John Calvin. Reading Calvin's interpretation of Job against the background of his most important medieval predecessors, Schreiner shows how central Job is to Calvin's struggles with issues of creation, the problem of evil, the meaning of history, and the doctrine of providence.
For Calvin and his predecessors, Schreiner argues, the concept of intellectual perception is the key to an understanding of Job. The texts she examines constantly raise questions about the human capacity for knowledge: What can the sufferer who stands within history perceive about the self, God, and reality? Can humans truly perceive the workings of providence in their personal lives or in the tumult of history? Are evil and injustice a reality that we must confront before finding wisdom?
In her final chapter, Schreiner turns to the wide array of twentieth-century interpretations of Job, including modern biblical commentaries, the work of Carl Jung, and literary transfigurations by Wells, MacLeish, Wiesel, and Kafka. The result is a compelling demonstration of how the history of exegesis can yield vital insights for contemporary culture.