The Glory Days of History

There is much to be learned from a book of essays recently published by my good friend and former colleague Paul Crook, Intellectuals and the Decline of Religion (2017), which deals with a range of English authors from Newman to Joseph Needham. The first essay asks whether the theory of development in Christian doctrine expressed in a book published by Newman in […]

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David Bentley Hart’s The New Testament A Translation (2017) (ii)

Last year was the five hundredth anniversary of Martin Luther’s nailing of his 95 Theses to the door of a church in Wittenburg, and the beginning of the Reformation. It was marked by ecumenical activities that sought to look beyond the divisions of the sixteenth century, by stressing what Roman Catholics and Lutherans have in common. But the recent translation […]

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David Bentley Hart’s The New Testament A Translation (2017) (i)

Most translations of the Bible are made by people with religious commitments who, on the assumption that the text they are translating supports their views, process it in ways that reflect them, so setting up the prospect of circular arguments that could go on for ever. Not so Hart, one of the leading Orthodox intellectuals of North America, who sets out […]

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On Rereading Kipling

Kipling’s novel Kim has long fascinated me. Published in 1901, when the British Empire was at its zenith, it tells the story of Kim O’Hara, a poor Anglo-Irish boy who has effectively gone native, finding it easier to slip into Hindu or Mohammedan garb when engaged on certain businesses. The novel describes his travels across the Subcontinent in the company of a Tibetan […]

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Christopher de Hamel’s Meetings with Remarkable Manuscripts (2016)

It was the excellent idea of Christopher de Hamel to inspect ten medieval manuscripts, for the most part well known ones, and produce a beautifully illustrated book describing his encounters with them. Its chapters follow the same pattern. We accompany the author as he makes his way to a library or archive where, having undergone some wittily described formalities, he sits down and meets a manuscript, […]

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The Royal Ballet Dance The Winter’s Tale

Among the plays by Shakespeare we studied in first year English at University, The Winter’s Favourite was the least well liked. Putting aside its great length, a feature scarcely likely to endear it to undergraduates, and the apparent weirdness of the plot (how seriously are we to take what seems to be a resurrection scene?), the lecturer made clear his distaste […]

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Bishop Maxim Vasiljevic on Tradition

Orthodox Tradition is a custom-dominated (cultural) rather than reason-dominated tradition, which means that it addresses the whole person (and not just their intellect) at the level of morals and daily life.  There are other cultures, on the other hand, such as the Western, which require intellectual explanations, a continual catechesis. How did the Orthodox people survive under the rule of […]

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Nancy Marie Brown’s The Abacus and the Cross The Story of the Pope who brought the Light of Science to the Dark Ages (2010)

It’s always good to come across a book aimed at a wide readership that presents an important topic that has been undeservedly neglected, especially one that is written in a lively style. Nancy Marie Brown examines the career of Gerbert of Aurillac, a mathematician who became pope (Silvester II, 999-1003). In doing so she rescues the middle ages from charges of anti-scientific obscurantism, effectively […]

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