From the Academic section

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Translating Religion

(College Theology Society Annual Volume 58)

Ed. Mary Doak & Anita Houck


Price: £23.99
Publisher:Orbis Books from Alban Books
Published:June 2013
The academic nature of this volume - the 2012 edition of the Annual Publication of the College Theology Society - is probably sufficient to put many readers off from even approaching the text. Yet the subject matter is vital. Ever since the publication of Vincent Donovan's remarkable book Christianity Rediscovered in 1982, theologians have increasingly been focusing on the challenge of how faith is communicated across culture and the impact this has on the faith of all involved. Translating Religion has an even broader remit and deserves reflection by all those for whom the communication of religion in diverse and challenging contexts is important.

A collection of fifteen essays by a variety of academics, the book is divided into three parts. Part 1 is concerned with the traditional issue of translating texts; Part 2 considers translations in cross-cultural and rapidly changing contexts; Part 3 moves the debate into the area of inter-faith relations.

The question posed in the title of the introduction conveys something of the landscape into which this volume speaks: "Can you explain Purgatory in terms of Karma?" Here we have two distinctive theological ideas, the understanding of either is almost certainly to be culturally defined. Yet the challenge is even greater than this perhaps, especially in those contexts where communities no longer share any concepts of religious doctrine or tradition. This includes, of course, vast swathes of Western Europe today. Just where do you start in a deeply secular context?

This is an important collection of essays and it is to be hoped that some of the themes will be explored in more accessible texts in time.

Reviewer: David Ford   (17/01/14)
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