This modern classic provides the most concise overview available of all the key concepts and people who have shaped the Eastern and Western Christian spiritual heritage. It stands above the field today, as it did when the author first saw a critical need for it more than twenty years ago. Now, this readable and authoritative introduction to Christian spirituality can be used and enjoyed by a new generation of readers and students. Holmes proceeds from the Jewish antecedents through the New Testament period, monasticism, the Middle Ages, Byzantine spirituality, and the modern period. He closes with key contemporary figures such as Simone Weil, Thomas merton, and Martin Luther King, Jr. This book is a fascinating reading and an invaluable reference tool for those who want a quick explanation of the significance of a person or idea, or who are interested ina broad overview of the entire field
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Customer Reviews for A History of Christian Spirituality: An Analytical Introduction
Review 1 for A History of Christian Spirituality: An Analytical Introduction
This book is exactly what it purports to be, an analytical introduction to the history of Christian spirituality. The author runs, more or less chronologically, through an overview of the development of Christian thinking, from about the time of Paul onwards. He presents both thumbnail sketches and brief assessments of the tenor of thought of various Christian writers. His focus is primarily on the inner experience of God and the Holy Spirit, from which Christian "spiritual masters" have developed their insights into the Way of the faith. The evolution of doctrine is purely secondary to his purpose, which gives the book its greatest value. The reader will find listed the names of authors who are either less known or downright obscure in the history of Christian spirituality, but whose influence is indisputable. There is much food for thought for the serious student of Christianity, together with outlines for a program of research and development of the history of Christian thinking which, if followed, would take decades to complete. The one quarrel I have with the book is that the classification schema which the author develops for the types (and consequences) of Christian mysticism is essentially of no value to a descriptive summary of the experiences underlying the thinking of a particular master, or the patterns of spiritual thought characterizing a particular era. This is a minor objection, however. The reader's remedy is simply to skip over the verbiage which seeks to apply the schema at various points in the book. Perhaps the most provocative comment which the book offers occurs near the very end. The author, summarizing his analysis of the Christian spiritual masters whom he has examined and assessed, says of their insights, taken together: "There is no permanent resting place; no one has captured the ineffable God in his or her formulae; perfection lies in the desire for God, not in the accomplishment of the union." That thought speaks volumes for the ways in which spiritual seekers over the centuries have approached the understanding of God. It is, perhaps, the hallmark of the difference between success and failure in the quest. Well worth a careful reading.