The Imitation of Christ: (Forgotten Books)

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9781605062297: The Imitation of Christ: (Forgotten Books)
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Book Description:

"The Imitation of Christ (or De imitatione Christi), by Thomas à Kempis, is a widely read Christian spiritual book. It was first published anonymously, in Latin, ca. 1418; several other authors have been proposed, but Kempis' authorship is now generally accepted.

Imitation of Christ is a writing of the mystical German-Dutch school of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries and is widely considered one of the greatest manuals of devotion in Christianity. Protestants and Roman Catholics alike join in giving it praise. The Jesuits give it an official place among their "exercises". John Wesley and John Newton listed it among the works that influenced them at their conversion. General Gordon carried it with him to the battlefield.

The number of counted editions exceeds 2000; 1000 different editions are preserved in the British Museum. The Bullingen collection, donated to the city of Cologne in 1838, contained at the time 400 different editions. De Backer (Essai, ut inf.) enumerates 545 Latin and about 900 French editions.

The book was written in Latin. A manuscript from 1441 survives and there is a French translation from 1447. The first printed edition, it is a catalan edition from 1482 (Barcelona, Pere Posa), translated into Catalan by Miquel Peres. The first printed French copies appeared at Toulouse in 1488. The earliest German translation was made in 1434 by J. de Bellorivo and is preserved in Cologne. The editions in German began at Augsburg in 1486. The first English translation (1502) was by William Atkinson and Margaret Beaufort, mother of Henry VII, who did the fourth book. Translations appeared in Italian (Venice, 1488; Milan 1489), Spanish (Seville, 1536), Arabic (Rome, 1663), Armenian (Rome, 1674), Hebrew (Frankfort, 1837), and other languages. Pierre Corneille produced a poetical paraphrase in French in 1651.

The Imitation of Christ derives its title from the heading of the first of four books, De imitatione Christi et contemptu omnium vanitatum mundi. It seems to have been written in meter and rhyme, a fact discovered by K. Hirsche in 1874. The four books are not found in all the manuscripts, nor are they arranged invariably in the same order.

The work is a manual of devotion intended to assist the soul with its pursuit of holiness and communion with God. Its sentences are statements, not arguments, and are pitched in the highest key of Christian experience. It was meant for monastics and ascetics. Behind and within all its reflections runs the counsel of self-renunciation.

The life of Christ is presented as the highest study possible to a mortal, as Jesus' teachings far excel all the teachings of the saints. The book gives counsel to read the scriptures, statements about the uses of adversity, advice for submission to authority, warnings against temptation and how to resist it, reflections about death and the judgment, meditations upon the oblation of Christ, and admonitions to flee the vanities of the world.

It was written by a monk and intended for the convent. It lays stress on the passive qualities and does not advocate active service in the world. What makes it acceptable to most Christians is the supreme emphasis it lays upon Christ and the possibility of immediate communion with him and God." (Quote from wikipedia.org)

Table of Contents:

Publisher's Preface; Introductory Note; First Book; Of The Imitation Of Christ, And Of Contempt Of The World And All Its Vanities; Of Thinking Humbly Of Oneself; Of The Knowledge Of Truth; Of Prudence In Action; Of The Reading Of Holy Scriptures; Of Inordinate Affections; Of Fleeing From Vain Hope And Pride; Of The Danger Of Too Much Familiarity; Of Obedience And Subjection; Of The Danger Of Superfluity Of Words; Of Seeking Peace Of Mind And Of Spiritual Progress; Of The Uses Of Adversity; Of Resisting Temptation; On Avoiding Rash Judgment; Of Works Of Charity; Of Bea

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Review:

The Thomas à Kempis fan club includes St. Ignatius, Thomas Merton, Thomas More, and even Agatha Christie's Miss Marple. (She reads a chapter of The Imitation of Christ every night before sleep.) Imitation has exerted immense influence on Christian worship, ethics, and church structure, because it gives specific yet broad-minded guidance about the central task of Christian life--learning to live like Jesus. Better to read this book a little here and there, now and then, than to try gobbling it cover to cover. Imitation is no triumph of orderly thinking, but it's a great monument and incentive to deep living. --Michael Joseph Gross

Book Description:

When does a classic become new, fresh and extremely relevant? When someone takes it out of an outdated format and makes it readable, searchable and understandable. The Imitation of Christ has been in print for over 500 years for a good reason. It is powerful, beautiful and heart piercing. James Watkins has taken those words and reworked them into ninety daily readings, arranged by topic. Whether for daily devotions or for sound insight into a particular issue, Watkins paraphrase blends the ancient with the modern to introduce this classic to a new audience, speaking to all Christians with credibility and authority and using inclusive language not found in the original.

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