|PATTERNS OF MORALITY IN THE BIBLE
Michel Istas, SJ
Our actions mostly follow established patterns, or standards. We generally don’t change our behaviour from one day to the next. When it comes to making any particular moral decision, people know what to expect from us. This is because we usually act according to the pattern we have established.
The purpose of this book is to explore biblical revelation, to learn how it tries to shape these patterns.
This book is different from most books of moral theology. These books tend to focus on the many commandments, laws and rules in the Bible; they focus on specific actions. But underlying these actions is something more basic, namely, the pattern. The pattern is fundamental. The book shows how the Bible describes such patterns, on the part both of God and of the people who respond to him. The patterns do not remain the same all through the Bible: they change from one book to another, because God reveals himself to people in different ways. Also, people's needs change, and their understanding of what God expects from them.
The patterns of morality, which this book investigate, can be a constant source of inspiration, bringing out the essential meaning of morality: to walk with God.
This book will help to make communion with God a real possibility. And in this communion, we will find fulfillment and happiness.
Michel Istas SJ is a priest born in Belgium, and belonging to the Jesuit Province covering Congo and Angola. He studied theology in Leuven, Kinshasa, and Paris. He has taught moral theology in Nairobi and in Abidjan since 1984. Two books and several articles in basic issues of moral life are from his hand.
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ON FIRE WITH PRAISE
The Canticle of the Three Servants in the Fiery Furnace (Dan 3, 56-88) as an Easter Hymn
The Canticle of the Three Servants in the Fiery Furnace, commonly known as the Canticle of Daniel, is one of the biblical texts most frequently utilised in the liturgy. From the early centuries of Christianity, the Canticle has enjoyed pride of place in key celebrations, such as the Easter vigil, the Pentecost vigil and the vigils of the Ember days. In spite of the various reforms in the history of the Liturgy of the Hours, the Canticle has never lost its place in the ordo of Sunday morning prayer and of major feasts and solemnities.
This book argues that, the interpretation of the salvation of the Three Servants in the Fiery furnace in the light of the resurrection of Christ made the Canticle of the Three Servants an Easter hymn.
The Canticle’s migration to various liturgical contexts not only attests to its popularity in Christian liturgy but also shows how the Christian community has used this biblical text to highlight the paschal spirit of the celebrations in which the Canticle appears.
Wilfred Sumani SJ is a Malawi-born Jesuit priest currently teaching at Hekima Jesuit School of Theology in Nairobi (Kenya). He obtained his doctorate in sacred liturgy at the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy, Sant’Anselmo (Rome) in 2015. Sumani is the author of the award-winning Mothers of Faith: Motherhood in the Christian Tradition (Orbis, 2017).
Preface of Pietro Angelo Muroni
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MARY OF BETHANY CALLED THE MAGDALENE
A SYNOPSIS OF THE FOUR GOSPELS DECIPHERING ONE BIBLICAL FIGURE
As the cover suggests, this book sees Mary of Bethany – sibling of Martha and Lazarus, as the woman disciple of Jesus who made a bold step, growing in the faith. It is in this context that she received the new name or surname of “tower”, consistent with the case of Simon whom he named Peter; James and John sons of Zebedee whom he named Boanerges (sons of Thunder); Simon called the Zealot; and so on; but not all surnames go back to Jesus himself. According to this book, Mary of Bethany is doubtless Mary Magdalene – but often mistakenly presented as originating from ‘Magdala’ a city which existed only in Ancient Egypt and mentioned « Migdol » several times in the OT. It will be stressful and fruitless to search for this city which is not cited anywhere in the NT (see J. F. CHAMPOLLION , A. PLUMMER [1922/1981], J. FITZMYER, S.J. [1979/1981] among many other exegetes). The word “Magdalene” is hardly a nomen gentilicium or geographically derived. To the contrary, the surname “the Magdalene” must rather be understood originally from the Hebrew root of the terms for “growth” and “tower”. This volume has been achieved thanks to a synopsis of the Four Gospels. Saint John the Evangelist underlines in John 11,2 that it was this woman who anointed Jesus the Messiah in the course of a simple meal in Bethany. If the three Gospels Matt, Mark and John are in agreement with Bethany as the location of the residence where Jesus was entertained, Luke on the contrary differs, and locates a site in Galilee for his composition. His freedom as a redactor along with his own inspiration takes him even further. He presents a narrative on the same subject of a “lacking hospitality”: from the point of view of its serious absence. By doing that his readers massively inadvertently slip into the error of mixing up the four passages to the point of creating a repentant prostitute out of Mary the Magdalene. Saint Luke alone in his Gospel speaks of Mary Magdalene from whom seven demons went out. This statement evokes a serious curiosity and is in itself enigmatic for anyone who reads the NT and the Apocryphal Writings. If this idea has been employed by the second redactor (Mark 16,9) of the “longer ending of Mark” (vv. 9-20), it is precisely because he borrows it from Luke and makes it an exorcism, attributing it to Jesus. But in the ‘careful wording’, this was not quite directly affirmed by Luke for whom the labelling with seven demons was only an insult directed to a woman who had nothing else to do other than getting herself involved in the circle of a Rabbi and his male disciples. The use of the expression “demon” or “evil spirit” that we often find in the Synoptic Gospels loses its importance as one gradually approaches the period of composition of the Fourth Gospel who uses the term uniquely in a sarcastic sense (cfr. all the occurrences of these terms in John). In addition, in John, “the ruler of this world” is cast out (12,31) and judged (16,11); the death and Resurrection of Jesus are one event seen as a cosmic Exorcism. But aren’t people still complaining of "demons" today? Has this primitive and obscure vocabulary not lost its meaning in a later world now aufgeklärt? Saint Jerome was the first to point out the special merits of this woman, when, in a commentary, he calls attention to Mary named “the tower [the Magdalene] out of the earnestness and glow of her faith”.
WINNER 2018 CATHOLIC PRESS ASSOCIATION BOOK AWARD! - GENDER STUDIES, FIRST PLACE
A Malawi-born Jesuit priest, Sumani approaches a broad definition of motherhood in the Christian faith tradition. Through both his own personal context as well as scholarly exegesis he focuses on many mother figures throughout the long narrative of Christianity including Mary, Elizabeth, Saints Felicitas and Perpetua, and even contemporary figures like Dorothy Day and Mother Teresa. Sumani stresses that through the insights culled from the experiences of motherhood, one can deepen one’s understanding of the workings of God in the world.
In the words of Margaret Hebblethwaite, the purpose of the book is to find “God in motherhood” and “motherhood in God.” Useful for scholars, Mothers of Faith is also a valuable resource for prayer and devotional reflection on these models of Christian motherhood.
Wilfred M. Sumani, SJ, holds a doctorate in sacred liturgy from the Pontifical Institute of Liturgy, Sant’Anselmo, Rome, and teaches at Hekima University College in Nairobi, Kenya.
RELIGION / Christian Theology / Ethics
RELIGION / Christian Life / Social Issues
RELIGION / Theology
Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ
RELIGION AND FAITH IN AFRICA
Confessions of an Animist
Duffy Lectures in Global Christianity
Before his conversion to Christianity, A.E. Orobator was raised in a Nigerian family steeped in the practice of traditional African Religion—animism, to use the term of anthropologists; “paganism” or “heathenism,” to use the term of the missionaries. This repository of African religion, he argues—at its heart “a deep belief in the livingness of creation”—is the soil in which Christianity and Islam have taken root.
“Orobator concludes this work with this African proverb: ‘A single bracelet does not jingle.’ In these readable, engaging, passionate, often intimate reflections, Orobator threads Africa’s indigenous religious experience with Islam and Christianity to offer the reader a ringing narrative that not only resounds with joy, but educates, challenges and inspires.”– M. Shawn Copeland, Boston College
“I find Orobator's Religion and Faith in Africa extremely refreshing and engaging. Bator writes well and simply (which is the same thing) to drive a powerful argument: In order to become a prophetic practice which advances life and wellbeing on the African continent, Christianity must rediscover and build on the rich cultural and religious heritage of Africa's primal religions.” – Emmanuel Katongole, author, The Journey of Reconciliation: Groaning for a New Creation in Africa
“With characteristic honesty and humility, Orobator narrates his own journey of faith in Africa, profoundly and unapologetically grounded in African Religion, unequivocally devoted to Jesus Christ, and rightfully respectful of Islam. He provocatively seeks to redeem and redefine ‘animism’ with prophetic boldness and incisiveness, thereby inviting readers to glean wisdom from African tradition in their own spiritual pilgrimage.”– Diane Stinton, author, Jesus of Africa: Voices of Contemporary Christology
Agbonkhianmeghe E. Orobator, SJ, is a Jesuit priest who lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya. He is the author of Theology Brewed in an African Pot and editor of The Church We Want: African Catholics Look to Vatican III (both from Orbis Books).
Cover design: Kimberly Asencio
THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE
The Way, the Truth and the Life: A Confluence of Asia, Europe and Africa in Jesus of Nazareth, by Festo Mkenda SJ, Michael Amaladoss SJ, Gerard J. Hughes SJ, Laurenti Magesa, and Diane B. Stinton (Nairobi: Jesuit Historical Institute in Africa, 2017), vi + 194 pages. ISBN: 978-9966-1860-0-3.
Published as a souvenir in honour of Adolfo Nicolás SJ, former Superior General of the Jesuits, this book beautifully explores the different ways the traditions of Asia, Europe and Africa could contribute to a deeper understanding of Jesus as “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Its point of departure is Nicolás’ severally repeated insight that, while Europe (or, more generally, the West) has placed an emphasis on “the truth,” Asian traditions are profoundly “way” traditions, and those of Africa are profoundly “life” traditions. In Nicholas’ view: What Asia has in abundance, Africa, Europe and the world in general are greatly in need of; what Europe has in abundance, Africa, Asia and the world in general are greatly in need of; and what Africa has in abundance, Asia, Europe and the world in general are greatly in need of. It follows that Asia, Europe, Africa, the Americas—in short, each human culture and tradition—has a specific input which the Church must accept “if we want the fullness of Christ to be present” (Nicolás). In the end, we need the perspective of another if we really want to enrich our own knowledge of Christ. With Michael Amaladoss exploring the Asian contribution, Gerard J. Hughes, the Western, and Laurenti Magesa, the African, this book expands Nicolás’ insight to provide “incontestable rationale for the confluence of global epistemic, cultural and religious traditions at the service of a dignifying understanding and practice of spirituality” (A. E. Orobator SJ, President of the Conference of Jesuit Superiors of Africa and Madagascar).
Title: Incultrating the Church in Africa
Bishops Recommendations, 1960 and 1990
Gabriel E. A. Mmassi, SJ
“Another end remains to be achieved; and we desire that all should fully understand it. The Church from the beginning own to our own time has always followed this wise practice: let not the Gospel on being introduced into new land destroy or extinguish whatever its people possess that is naturally, good, just or beautiful….” Evangelii Praecones, 1951, 56. “By reason of its deep conviction that “the synthesis between culture and faith is not only a demand of culture but also of faith, “ because “a faith that does not become culture is not fully accepted, not entirely thought out, not fully lived, “ (151) the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops considered inculturation a priority and an urgent task in the life of Africa’s particular Churches. Only in this way can the Gospel be firmly implanted in the Continent’s Christian communities….” Ecclesia in Africa, 1995, 78. It is against these backgrounds that the suggestions/vota from Africa for Vatican II, as well as the Lineamenta, Instrumentum laboris, coices of the AMECEA Bishops and others to, and from, the first Africa Synod, help evaluate the state of the Church in Africa.
About the author:
A Jesuit from Tanzania, my human, spiritual, and academic formation has contributed immensely to who I am as a human person. In addition, my teaching experience at Hekima College, Kenya; St. Augustine College of South Africa; ITCJ Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Berkley, California; and, presently the Gregorian University, Rome, have been invaluable.
Cover image: www.ingimage.com
|Montee de L’Islamisme Radical et Violent en Afrique
Sous la direction de
Rigobert Minani Bihuzo, SJ
La montée de l'islamisme radical et violent est un phénoméne grandissant sur le continent. Au moment où les armées de certaines régions se mobilisent contre les groupes djihadistes, ce livre se donne comme mission d'approfondir ce phénoméne. II montre la nécessité de consolider le lien et le dialogue entre I'islam africain modéré et le christianisme, et répondre au lien entre la pauvreté, les injustices et I'intégrisme. Ce livre montre aussi que I'élan de l'islamisation est minutieusement planifié. Parmi ses stratégies on note la nomination de nouveaux imams formés à I'école du Wahabisme, la distribution de bourses d'é tudes aux jeunes, la construction rapide de mosquées, même là où les musulmans ne sont pas encore présents et des actions sociales. Les auteurs du livre proposent entre autres comme réponse à ce phénoméne, la consolidation, des bonnes relations, vieilles de plusieurs siècles, entre I'Islam et le christianisme et éviter les amalgames qui confondent Islam et terrorisme. Etre solidaire du calvaire des communautés affectées et ne pas considérer le malheur qui les frappe comme un fait divers. Diffuser les informations concernant les groupes islamistes, leur mode opératoire, leurs ressources et leur idéologie. Multiplier les espaces de rencontre, de dialogue, de fraternité, de solidarité et de connaissance mutuelle avec les communautés musulmanes qui vivent avec nous. Et enfin offrir une perspective meilleure aux jeunes marginalisés et révoltés, qui vivent dans des conditions socio-politiques et économiquesn'offrant pas de raisons d'espérer. Le tout se résume par la promotion d'une culture de la paix et de non-violence active et évangélique.