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Christ on Trial: How the Gospel Unsettles Our Judgment Paperback – July 18, 2003

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 157 pages
  • Publisher: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; 2nd Paperback Edition edition (July 18, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080282496X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0802824967
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,173 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Rowan Douglas Williams was born in Swansea, south Wales on 14 June 1950, into a Welsh-speaking family, and was educated at Dynevor School in Swansea and Christ's College Cambridge where he studied theology. He studied for his doctorate - in the theology of Vladimir Lossky, a leading figure in Russian twentieth-century religious thought - at Wadham College Oxford, taking his DPhil in 1975. After two years as a lecturer at the College of the Resurrection, near Leeds, he was ordained deacon in Ely Cathedral before returning to Cambridge.

From 1977, he spent nine years in academic and parish work in Cambridge: first at Westcott House, being ordained priest in 1978, and from 1980 as curate at St George's, Chesterton. In 1983 he was appointed as a lecturer in Divinity in the university, and the following year became dean and chaplain of Clare College. 1986 saw a return to Oxford now as Lady Margaret Professor of Divinity and Canon of Christ Church; he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Divinity in 1989, and became a fellow of the British Academy in 1990. He is also an accomplished poet and translator.

In 1991 Professor Williams accepted election and consecration as bishop of Monmouth, a diocese on the Welsh borders, and in 1999 on the retirement of Archbishop Alwyn Rice Jones he was elected Archbishop of Wales, one of the 38 primates of the Anglican Communion. Thus it was that, in July 2002, with eleven years experience as a diocesan bishop and three as a leading primate in the Communion, Archbishop Williams was confirmed on 2 December 2002 as the 104th bishop of the See of Canterbury: the first Welsh successor to St Augustine of Canterbury and the first since the mid-thirteenth century to be appointed from beyond the English Church.

Dr Williams is acknowledged internationally as an outstanding theological writer, scholar and teacher. He has been involved in many theological, ecumenical and educational commissions. He has written extensively across a very wide range of related fields of professional study - philosophy, theology (especially early and patristic Christianity), spirituality and religious aesthetics - as evidenced by his bibliography. He has also written throughout his career on moral, ethical and social topics and, since becoming archbishop, has turned his attention increasingly on contemporary cultural and interfaith issues.

As Archbishop of Canterbury his principal responsibilities are however pastoral - leading the life and witness of the Church of England in general and his own diocese in particular by his teaching and oversight, and promoting and guiding the communion of the world-wide Anglican Church by the globally recognized ministry of unity that attaches to the office of bishop of the see of Canterbury.

His interests include music, fiction and languages.

In 1981 Dr Williams married Jane Paul, a lecturer in theology, whom he met while living and working in Cambridge. They have a daughter and a son.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bill Barto VINE VOICE on July 4, 2009
Format: Paperback
This is a magnificent book by the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams. The theme of the book is well-described in the subtitle: how the Gospel unsettles our judgment, and why this unsettling is a good thing. To establish these points, the author examines the trial scenes in each Gospel and proffers a typically unexpected interpretation of Christ's actions therein. For example, while examining the Gospel according to Mark, the author re-imagines "what it is for God to speak to us as God - not as a version of whatever makes us feel secure and appears more attractive than other familiar kinds of security. For if our talk about God is a religious version of talk about human safety, the paradox is that it will fail to say anything at all about salvation. It will not have anything to do with what is decisively and absolutely not the way of this world."

His fans and critics alike frequently point to the author's intellectual prowess, but this is a book in which the reader can glimpse in the text a pastor's heart. Each of the gospel chapters moves the reader away from an interpretation of the texts that would "let God become again a competitor in the world's business, whose power can 'trump' all other claims at the end of the day," toward an awareness that God meets us "on this lowly ground" (quoting Donne) and frequently in circumstances and through people that show little or no signs of transcendence or even joy. As the author notes, "the mystery is in our midst, wherever and however we find ourselves." And each chapter ends with a wonderful prayer that captures the spirit of each chapter's meditation.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By John D. Fitzmorris on July 5, 2009
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With Rowan Williams I have looked into the face of an enemy and seen a friend. I was raised Catholic and Irish and to say the least Englishmen and their brand of religion were not held in the highest of esteem in the days of my youth. I have of course moved far from those tribal positions and it is through the writings of such profound Christian thinkers and writers as the Archbishop that I have broadened my horizons. In this little tome Rowan Williams has taken the trial of Jesus and thrown its withering light on how humans have constructed our systems of oppressions and exclusion. God bless the archbishop a man I would not mind calling a friend and standing trial with.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By scottxstephens on July 25, 2012
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Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams' 2003 short work Christ on Trial: How the Gospel Unsettles our Judgement was my read yesterday. At just over 150 pages it proved to be a very short but intense read. Williams' main premise is that trials/tribulations are not things that are negative and should be avoided and because of that there is much that as Christians we can learn from Jesus from the trial narratives found at the end of the four Gospels. Working from one Gospel to another in an order that is mostly based on time of composition (Mark-Matthew-Luke-John), Williams paints very distinct pictures of Jesus and what they each mean for Christians today.

The strongest chapter by far is the one on the Gospel of Mark. The Jesus that Williams points to here is alone and beaten. A man who has been kidnapped, falsely tried, and convicted before even given a legitimate trial, this Jesus is the one whom we can identify with when it feels that there is nothing that we can do to help ourselves. I very much enjoyed Williams' use of discussion questions and prayers at the end of each chapter and particularly the one from this chapter, "Is God supposed to make us feel safe?" I think that question speaks much about who we imagine God to be and what kind of a picture we are presented in the Gospels, specifically Mark. Is the God we profess vulnerable? Can this God identify with us and can we identify with this God? All good questions.

As much as I loved the chapter on the Gospel of Mark, I cannot say the same about the chapters on Matthew and Luke. The one addressing Matthew seemed scattered and I kept expecting him to go into more detail. That aside I thoroughly enjoyed the links of the Divine Wisdom in Matthew to the passages from the Apocryphal Wisdom of Solomon.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Matthew S. King on March 14, 2010
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To put it simply, this book is everything I thought it would be before I picked it up. A very thoughtful, in depth, illuminating analysis of Christ's trial accounts. In addition to the accounts that you expect (from the four Gospel accounts) they also have a section on martyrs and the trial of Christ from "The Grand Inquisitor" (part of the Brothers Karamazov).

As the Brothers K is my favorite novel, I was enthralled to learn midway through reading the book that this was a chapter that was included. However, upon reading the section, it was more of a wrapping up chapter than one that needed multiple readings of "The Grand Inquisitor" to understand (which would have mirrored the other chapters on the Gospels). However, the entire book did deliver, and the sparse details in the last chapter is actually making me more intrigued about his book on Dostoevsky.

Overall, the rest of the chapters were quite well thought out, easy to understand, had short (though still powerful) sections, and most importantly, pushed the reasons (and focus) of the trials back upon the reader, which is exactly what I hoped this book would do.

Lastly, I bought this as a book on my Kindle. Thankfully, they had the references tagged, so that if you hit them, you could go to the index to see what the reference was quickly. In other words, it used the Kindle format to its advantage.
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