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The Wound of Knowledge: Christian Spirituality from the New Testament to St. John of the Cross Paperback – July 25, 2003

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About the Author

ROWAN WILLIAMS, the 104th Archbishop of Canterbury, was formerly Primate of the Church in Wales. He taught at both Oxford and Cambridge until 1991 when he was made Bishop of Monmouth. He is the author of Lost Icons, Writing in the Dust, Ponder These Things, A Ray of Darkness, Resurrection, The Truce of God, and Arius.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Cowley Publications; 2 Rev Sub edition (August 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561010472
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561010479
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 0.5 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #232,688 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.

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31 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Didaskalex VINE VOICE on July 16, 2005
Format: Paperback
"The goal of a Christian life, according to Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is not enlightenment but wholeness - 'an acceptance of this complicated and muddled bundle of experiences as a possible theater for God's creative work.'" Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat

Book Overview:

Dr. Williams presents in this thematically rich and diversified volume, a mystical overview of Christian spiritual life from the Apostolic Fathers to St. John of the Cross. Among those included are Ignatius of Antioch, Irenaeus of Lyons, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Athanasius, Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, and many others. The reader of this book will experience: an ecumenical journey in time and space to discover ancient Christian traditions, through delving into the patristic door. Living the faith, is part of his pilgrimage, reflected in his contribution to 'Anglican quest for holiness,' and continues with his book: 'The Making of Orthodoxy.'

History of Loving Knowledge:

The Passion of my God; starts with faith, spirituality, belief (doctrine) which is represented in the Philippians' Christological hymn. His first patristic example was Ignatius of Antioch, allegedly the kid who offered the five loaves to Lord Jesus. His masterful statement is, p17: "Thus martyrdom comes as a natural culmination of a far more prosaic process of kenosis (self emptying) from "The shadow of the Flesh":

A tour of the Mystics:

Starting with Philo the mystical Jew, Irenaeus, and the Apophatic Alexandrines: Clement, Origen, in a fascinating virtual tour. Origen and Athanasius struggled with the meaning of sharing the divine life. Gregory of Nyssa wrote about imitating the pattern of God's life as revealed in Jesus.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Orville B. Jenkins VINE VOICE on March 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Williams, who is Archbishop of Caterbury, exercises his understandable and articulate scholarship in presenting the major personalities and themes in Christian Spirituality throughout history to the Middle ages. He deals not just with the "mystics," but all the major writers and their concept of prayer and discipleship.

This entails laying the backgrounds for each writer-teacher's lifetimes. Williams thus provides a dynamic view of the times and thought in the roiling Roman empire and the troubled west that continued after the Roman Empire continued only in the East after the disastrous invasions that destroyed the western political infrastructure.

Gnostics and Mystics
He draws an especially helpful picture of the Gnostic movement and some of its varieties, analyzing how early Christian writers answered this challenge. We learn that some writers used concepts, terminology and theological ideas similar to the gnostics. Some were careful to avoid these.

These writers all reject the Gnostic claim that the Creator God was an evil secondary God, and that material creation and our bodies and natural lives are inherently evil. They affirm the creation by the One True God, who redeems as he creates. One commonality among those writing in the Gnostic era is to carefully affirm that the Christian faith follows the Jewish in affirming that there is only one God. It is interesting to review the different concepts among these writers of creation and life in regard to moral life and redemption.

Active and Interesting
Williams is astutely able to keep all this material active and interesting. This is not a boring academic fact-guide, but a portrayal of living men and women in the midst of their life-struggles.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Andy Rowell on October 20, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
When I was deciding whether to buy this book, I wasn't sure if it had actually been revised since Williams first wrote it in 1979. I had found the 1979 version at the library. Indeed the book was revised in 1990. Thus, if you are going take the trouble to read this book, I would read the updated version.

The inside cover reads "Second, revised edition 1990 by Darton, Longman & Todd, London." For example he writes in the notes on page 194, "On the complex question of Jesus' relation to Israel and the Law, my earlier and very much over-simplified account has been revised in light of more recent work, notably Jesus and Judaism, E.P. Sanders (London 1985)."

It also says in the front cover of the book, "U.S. release of the second, revised edition in 1991 by Cowley Publications. First published in the United States under the title Christian Spirituality." So, if you have the book Christian Spirituality by Rowan Williams, I think (but am not 100% sure) that is the revised 1990 version.
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