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New Publications by Oxford Dominicans

Monday, August 31, 2009
Summer 2009 saw the publication of a number of works by members of the Blackfriars community.

Fr Richard Finn published Asceticism in the Graeco-Roman World (Cambridge University Press). Asceticism deploys abstention, self-control, and self-denial, to order oneself or a community in relation to the divine. Both its practices and the cultural ideals they expressed were important to pagans, Jews, Christians of different kinds, and Manichees. Fr Richard presents for the first time a combined study of the major ascetic traditions, which have been previously misunderstood by being studied separately. He examines how people abstained from food, drink, sexual relations, sleep, and wealth; what they meant by their behaviour; and how they influenced others in the Graeco-Roman world. Against this background, the book charts the rise of monasticism in Egypt, Asia Minor, Syria, and North Africa, assessing the crucial role played by the third-century exegete, Origen, and asks why monasticism developed so variously in different regions.

Fr Denis Minns, prior of Oxford from 2000 to 2006, together with Paul Parvis, published Justin, Philosopher and Martyr: Apologies (Oxford University Press). Justin Martyr (c.100-165) was one of the key apologists of the Early Church and this is a new critical edition of the Greek text of the Apologies with introduction, English translation, and textual commentary. Fr Denis and Dr Parvis take a searching look at the text transmitted by the single fourteenth-century manuscript containing the works of Justin. They attempt to see behind the work of the Byzantine editor, and of his predecessors, who sought to make sense of the badly damaged text. The commentary is designed not merely to annotate the text but to identify and draw out Justin's train of thought and the structure of his argument. Justin is located within his Christian, Hellenistic, and philosophical contexts. A new understanding of Justin emerges from this work, and the difficulty of the task he set himself of bridging the enormous gap between two cultures is clearly shown.

Fr Richard Conrad published 7 Gifts of the Holy Spirit (Catholic Truth Society), which the publishers describe as an introduction to living with the Holy Spirit and the gifts it brings. Every Christian who has been confirmed has received the fullness of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. This booklet explains what these gifts are, the effect they can have on the life of the person who accepts them, and what a life truly led by the Spirit should look like.

In the same batch of new publications from the Catholic Truth Society is Thomas Aquinas: The Mind in Love by Fr Vivian Boland, which the publishers describe as an introduction to the life, thought and relevance of the 'Angelic Doctor'. Thomas is an unusual saint, having spent most of his life teaching in universities and writing in his convent, yet his thought has defined Catholic theology for almost eight hundred years. Not just a theologian, he was also a philosopher, mystic and poet, and responsible for some of the most beautiful hymns used in the Catholic liturgy.

We congratulate these brothers on their work and pray that their writings will not only increase people's knowledge and understanding of the faith but will also strengthen many in their love for Christ and in their service of Him.


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