Category Archives: Religion and Theology

Announcing a new interdisciplinary series, Sanctity in Global Perspective – a guest post from Alison Frazier

Alison FrazierThis is a guest post from Alison Frazier, President of The Hagiography Society

The Hagiography Society is proud to join Ashgate in sponsoring Sanctity in Global Perspective, a series dedicated to multidisciplinary explorations of the concept of sanctity.

Not every global tradition venerates “saints,” as such, but all identify people of extraordinary virtue—of radically ambiguous “power”—whose lives and actions demand to be admired, honored, and imitated.

That veneration marks a potent site of cultural work, a place at once special and quotidian where a community’s ambitions and nightmares settle, where comedy nests with tragedy in the group’s identification of the “saint” and ritual elaboration of cult.

Cult thus finds expression in repetition and improvisation, in luxury and deprivation, in peace and violence, in humble obedience and arrogant defiance, in the chthonic, reliquary body and the ethereal, mystical one. The scholar of sanctity addresses evidence that ranges from the visual, musical, and literary, to the architectural, pedagogical, and political. Cults stretch over many centuries and across disparate geographies. Their stories elicit every emotion, and invite comparison.

As a cultural locus, the “saint” both condenses and challenges a tradition’s beliefs and devotional practices. Sanctity may be put to serve cynical strategies as easily as noble aspirations, may reflect both a community’s optimism and its despair. The saint enfolds a tradition’s attitudes to birth and death, to family and kinship, as well as to institutions and rulers.

Sanctity in Global Perspective welcomes critical scholarship that brings new texts, images, spaces, and ideas into the world’s long conversation about extraordinary virtue. We seek to foster the crosspollination of ideas across traditions, regions, and academic disciplines.

About the series editors: Shahzad Bahir is Lysbeth Warren Anderson Professor in Islamic Studies (Department of Religious Studies) at Stanford University, USA. Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski is Professor of French at the University of Pittsburgh, USA. John Stratton Hawley is Professor of Religion at Barnard College, USA.

For more information on how to submit a book proposal to the series, please contact Erika Gaffney, or see

Theology and California authors Fred Sanders and Jason S. Sexton at Green Apple Books

Posted by Hattie Wilson, Marketing Executive

Green Apple Books in San Francisco are to host an event with Fred Sanders and Jason Sexton. On Wednesday 15th October at 7pm, Sanders and Sexton will discuss theology in California with Kevin Starr, a Californian State Librarian and University Professor at the University of Southern California. You can view their event page here.

Fred Sanders is evangelical Protestant theologian with a passion for the great tradition of Christian thought and a professor in Biola University’s great books programme, the Torrey Honors Institute. With Oliver Crisp he is the coordinator of the annual Los Angeles Theology Conference, and he is a faculty member for the Los Angeles Bible Training School.

Jason S. Sexton is a fourth generation Californian who taught theology at Cambridge while a visiting scholar at Ridley Hall. He is currently a Research Associate at USC’s Center for Religion and Civic Culture, is a lecturer in the Honors Department at California State University, Fullerton, and is the Administrative Convener of the TECC Project. He holds the PhD from the University of St. Andrews on the doctrine of the Trinity and contemporary evangelical theology.

Theology and CaliforniaAshgate have recently published Sanders and Sexton’s new venture, Theology and California. In the book, the editors gather leading theologians, cultural critics, specialists in film studies, theological anthropology, missiology, sociology and history. Exploring California as a theological place, Theology and California renders critical engagement with significant Californian religious and theological phenomena, and the inherent theological impulses within major Californian cultural icons.

Theology and California is available in paperback, hardback and ebook editions.

Sarah Bachelard’s Resurrection and Moral Imagination reviewed in The Tablet by Philip McCosker

Resurrection and the Moral ImaginationSarah Bachelard’s book Resurrection and Moral Imagination was recently reviewed in The Tablet by Philip McCosker. An edited extract of the review appears below, or you can read the full review online on The Tablet’s website.

It is staggering how little good recent theo­logical writing on the Resurrection there is. You might expect that the pivotal element of the Christian Gospel would have been the focus of theologians’ attention for centuries; you would be disappointed…

Very rarely has the Resurrection been treated as theologically revealing in its own right. There are some notable exceptions: Rowan Williams, James Alison, Anthony Kelly CSsR, and most recently, Brian Robinette’s brilliant Grammars of Resurrection.

But now we have Australian philosopher-­theologian Sarah Bachelard’s excellent Resurrection and Moral Imagination which boldly and astutely builds on all these theologians to forge an ethical vision from that most Christian of doctrines. It will be of interest to ­anyone concerned with the question of how to live in our world, whether religious or secular.

Bachelard’s game-changing vision is quite different from that of her fellow Anglican moral theologian Oliver O’Donovan’s earlier Resurrection and Moral Order. For O’Donovan, ethics must be founded on the Resurrection because it vindicates the created order and its morality; for Bachelard, the Resurrection gives a new world from which to act, and that world can be perceived even without explicit religious belonging…

…Bachelard has interesting and nourishing things to say about desire, sacrifice, secularisation, the need for the Church and theology to  attend to the messiness of real life. Her prose is refreshing and crystal clear, deceptively simple, open, conciliatory, non-fluffy and imaginative. Her focus on practice is astute and the engagement with the secular timely. This book is a major contribution to theological ethics and deserves sustained engagement.

About the Author:  Reverend Dr Sarah Bachelard is an Anglican priest and theologian based in Canberra, Australia. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Australian Catholic University, with special interests in philosophy, ethics and spirituality, and is the author of Experiencing God in a Time of Crisis (Convivium, 2012). She is the leader and founder of Benedictus Contemplative Church, an ecumenical worshipping community with a practice of silent meditation at its heart, and is a member of the World Community for Christian Meditation.

Other reviews:

‘Far more than a discrete proposition, the resurrection of Jesus entails an imaginative world to be inhabited and cultivated-a world that would transform our moral stances by reframing the horizons and desires that shape and often distort our views of transcendence, self and neighbor, and death. Sarah Bachelard’s Resurrection and Moral Imagination powerfully evokes such a world, yet does so by showing how the distinctive features of Christian imagination open up to and are deepened by sustained conversation across philosophical and theological boundaries. While skillfully conducting this conversation, Bachelard’s own keen insights provide the reader with a rich sense of the Christian’s resurrection ethic as a wisdom ethic.’    Brian Robinette, Boston College, USA

‘More than any other book I have read, Resurrection and Moral Imagination brings the kind of moral philosophy first developed in the English-speaking world by Iris Murdoch, into critical dialogue with theology. In prose of enviable simplicity, with sensitivity, depth and sometimes startling originality, Bachelard explores the ways each needs the other.’   Raimond Gaita, University of Melbourne, Australia

‘Innovative, lucid and sensitive, this is a genuinely fresh look at what is distinctive about the Christian moral vision, worked out in conversation with a variety of sympathetic but more secular voices, including Rai Gaita and Iris Murdoch. Sarah Bachelard is a really significant new voice in theological ethics.’   Rowan Williams, Magdalene College, Cambridge, UK

Full information about Resurrection and Moral Imagination is on our website

Launching the Ashgate Studies in Pilgrimage Series

Posted by Hattie Wilson, Marketing Executive

Pilgrimage Politics and Place Making in Eastern EuropeThe Ashgate Studies in Pilgrimage Series will be unveiled later this month with two volumes, Muslim and Catholic Pilgrimage Practices by Albertus Bagus Laksana and Pilgrimage, Politics and Place-Making in Eastern Europe by John Eade and Mario Katic.

David Shervington, the assistant editor for the Religion and Theology list who has worked on bringing the series to fruition, is delighted to welcome series editors Simon Coleman, Dee Dyas, John Eade and Jas’ Elsner to our publishing programme.

“We have been excited to see the response from the academic community. Our aim is for the series to become an important focal point for the academic study of pilgrimage and to gather together the work of new and established scholars across the disciplines.”

Muslim and Catholic Pilgrimage PracticesThe first of the two books to launch, Muslim and Catholic Pilgrimage Practices, offers crucial insights into some of the most challenging questions in Muslim-Christian encounters and reveals the importance of shared pilgrimage tradition among Muslims and Catholics in South Central Java. This book is a comparative theological and phenomenological work on the topic of local pilgrimage that combines local sources in the vernacular and wider Muslim and Christian theological traditions.

Pilgrimage, Politics and Place-Making in Eastern Europe will also introduce the Pilgrimage Studies series. This book brings together scholars from eastern and south-eastern Europe to explore the crossing of borders in terms of the relationship between pilgrimage and politics, and the role which this plays in the process of both sacred and secular place-making.

If you are interested in submitting a proposal for the series, please email David Shervington, Prof. Simon Coleman, Prof. John Eade, Dr Dee Dyas and Dr Jas’ Elsner.

Find out more about our new Ashgate Studies in Pilgrimage Series

Richard L. Greaves Award Honourable Mention for Tim Cooper’s book: John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity

Posted by Bethany Whalley, Marketing Executive

The Nonconformist church leader and theologian, John Owen (1616-1683), and the Puritan church leader, poet and theologian Richard Baxter (1615-1691) had much in common, but their differing experiences of the English Civil War drew them into a long debate fuelled by mutual dislike.

Author Tim Cooper uses this relationship in his book John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity (Ashgate, 2011) to explore the shaping of nonconformity during the Restoration. He makes the argument that individual experience and fraught private relationships had the power to determine the future of much wider movements – and sometimes hamper their progress.

John Owen Richard Baxter and the formation of nonconformityThe book recently received an ‘Honourable Mention’ in the Richard L. Greaves Award 2013, awarded by the International John Bunyan Society for an outstanding book-length work of scholarship devoted to the history, literature, thought, practices and legacy of Anglophone Protestantism to 1700.

‘This is a dramatic and highly readable account of a poisonous feud between two thin-skinned giants of evangelical protestantism. This dual study not only gives us many new insights into the beliefs and actions of Baxter and Owen but (without taking sides) significantly deepens our understanding of the stress fractures within puritanism that led to the defeat of its hopes and expectations.’   John Morrill, University of Cambridge, UK

Tim CooperAbout the Author: Tim Cooper is Senior Lecturer in the History of Christianity in the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Otago, New Zealand.

More about the Richard L. Greaves Award

More about John Owen, Richard Baxter and the Formation of Nonconformity

Ashgate Studies in Evangelicalism – a call for proposals

David Ceri JonesThis is a guest post from David Ceri Jones, Aberystwyth University

It with great pleasure and excitement that I can announce the launch of the ‘Ashgate Studies in Evangelicalism’, a brand new academic monograph series, to be edited by Andrew Atherstone (Wycliffe Hall, Oxford) and myself.

Our vision for the series is that it will quickly become the natural home for monographs and other works on every aspect of the history and theology of the global evangelical movement from its beginnings in the 1730s until the present day. The first two volumes which will launch the series are already commissioned. There will an Ashgate Research Companion on the History of Evangelicalism, containing over twenty chapters covering most aspects of the evangelical movement, summarising existing research, and flagging up those areas where the light of serious historical research has yet to shine. It will hopefully be a book that summarises the current state of the discipline.

A first monograph has also been accepted for publication. More details of that book will follow in due course.

So if you have a recently completely doctoral thesis, or a completed manuscript of a work on any aspect of the history or theology of the global evangelical movement then please get in touch.

Further details of the series can be found on the Ashgate webpage, here:

Visit David Ceri’s blog

Visit Andrew Atherstone’s blog

Ashgate launches new book series — Contemporary Theological Explorations in Christian Mysticism

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Co-ordinator

The first 2 books in the Contemporary Theological Explorations in Christian Mysticism series, Exploring Lost Dimensions in Christian Mysticism and Christian Mysticism and Incarnational Theology, are now available! Both titles are edited by Louise Nelstrop and Simon D. Podmore.

Christian Mysticism and Incarnational Theology  Exploring Lost Dimensions

Series co-editor, Patricia Z. Beckman, has this to say about the series:

“We’re seeing a phenomenal rise in interest in Christian mysticism in our time. Perhaps it isn’t exaggerating to say this may be the most widespread interest since other peak episodes in Christian history like the European medieval or Eastern early periods. Why?

Christians are hungry for direct experience, full embodied commitment to a God of fierce beauty and love. They’re eager to engage in deep study and devotional practices to further that relationship with God. And they realize that this mystical element has always been a part of their traditions—Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Protestant, alike. So in a sense, the increased interest in mysticism mirrors much mystical teaching itself—through it people seek to experience what has always been there, freely offered.

I hope this series will connect people with the breadth and depth of Christian mysticism so that they can fully engage the transformation of an integrated Christian life. I hope they will meet mystery here. This is recovery of important historical moments, theoretical insights, and even newly discovered figures, but importantly, it is also new application to contemporary life, all with expert guides who have immersed themselves in the rich traditions of Christian mysticism. It is very good scholarship attuned to real human needs and desires. As such, the series too mirrors and aspires to the very mysticism it engages.”


Interested in learning more? Visit the Contemporary Theological Explorations in Christian Mysticism series page.

Interested in submitting a book proposal? Visit