Historical Dictionary of Radical Christianity (Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements Series)

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9780810871793: Historical Dictionary of Radical Christianity (Historical Dictionaries of Religions, Philosophies, and Movements Series)

There are several eras in the history of Christianity radical forms of the tradition are obvious: the early church of the first five centuries, the medieval era, the age of reform, the early modern era, and the contemporary era. Radical Christian activity and experience may reflect either a primary or a derived level of spirituality. New converts may join a sect or movement with radical characteristics; or they may become dissatisfied with their initial Christian experiences and desire a different or deeper Christian spirituality, usually closely parallel to that seen in the New Testament.

The Historical Dictionary of Radical Christianity covers the history of this movement and includes an introductory essay and a bibliography. The dictionary section has over 400 cross-referenced entries. The dictionary entries selected reflect the leading groups, movements, and sects from each major era of Christian history. Especially in the contemporary period, the great proliferation of radical thinkers and groups has necessitated a selection process with those selected exhibiting sustained group activity, possessing an identifiable following, and demonstrating a significant cultural impact. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about Radical Christianity.

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About the Author:

William H. Brackney is a Millard R. Cherry Distinguished Professor of Christian Thought and Ethics, Acadia University. He teaches in the fields of Protestant Christian Thought and Global Ethical Issues.

Review:

Brackney (Millard R. Cherry Distinguished Professor of Christian Thought and Ethics, Acadia Univ.) explores numerous attempts—some highly successful, some not—at changing the Christian faith over time. Introductory material presents the “evolving nature of radical Christianity” in a time line covering periods stretching from the first five centuries CE to today. Brackney distinguishes among five general types of radical Christians: theological, ethical, reconstructive, prophetic, and sacramental—a useful typology for understanding the remainder of the text, as each entry is coded with one of these types. The concise entries cover movements, people, new religions, sects, and other related subjects that figure into the overall history of radical Christianity and include bolded keywords, indicating cross-referenced topics throughout. The bibliography is subdivided chronologically, and each section highlights primary and secondary sources; this makes it useful for further study. Brackney also provides a short explanation of the types and nature of the literature available for each period of history discussed. VERDICT One of the stronger and most clearly organized entries in this series, this is a good resource for those interested in further exploration of the nature of religious radicalism and the reasoning behind various uprisings. (Library Journal)

This dictionary by Brackney (Acadia Divinity College, Nova Scotia) is a fascinating compilation of various groups and movements that at one time or another have been considered ‘radical’ or ‘unorthodox.’ By ‘radical,’ the author means ‘an identifiable person/group that sought in some way to restore or recover the original essence of Christianity, as witnessed in the New Testament scriptures and literature of first-century Christianity.’ The introduction provides a brief, insightful overview of the ‘evolving nature of radical Christianity’ from the foundation of the church to the present. The most helpful part of this dictionary is the typology the writer uses to characterize how various individuals and movements have differed from the creeds and practices developed by and in the early church. The general types include theological (T), ethical (E), reconstructive (R), prophetic (P), and sacramental (S). The dictionary is thorough, though not exhaustive. Each entry is brief but clearly written and well researched. Also offered is a useful bibliography of general, primary, and secondary resources. Specialists and theological students, along with church historians, will find this volume a great ready-reference dictionary and a welcome supplement to other works on the same subject. Summing Up: Recommended. (CHOICE)

Brackney’s study of radical Christianity illuminates this ongoing tug-of-war between orthodoxy and heresy, each contributing to the perception of the other. This would be a useful addition to the reference collections of high schools and universities. (American Reference Books Annual)

This is [an] excellent encyclopedic “dictionary” from the Scarecrow stable, with over 400 entries which are handily cross-referenced by means of bold print....This well-written and endlessly fascinating book is based upon a thorough knowledge of the work of previous scholars and upon research in libraries in the US, Canada, and the UK. (Reference Reviews)

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