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The Descent of the Dove: A Short History of the Holy Spirit in the Church Paperback – 19 Dec 1987

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Regent College Publishing,US (19 Dec. 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573832073
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573832076
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 1.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 785,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 9 reviews
46 of 46 people found the following review helpful
Church History from William's View 15 April 2004
By Mark Wendland - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book has been out of print for some time like so many of William's writings. Several years ago I ordered a used copy for an extravagant amount of money, so it is nice to see it for a decent price. This book is a summary of church history as seen from William's characteristic vision of the distinction and the interrelationship between The Way of Negation and the Way of Affirmation. Many of the figures and movements that Williams covers are traditional but they are illuminated in exciting new ways by his thought. The chapter on the Reformation alone is worth the price of the whole book. Others are non-traditional, for example, his very brief positive and cryptic mention of a group called the subinductae in the early church. If you have a taste for Williams at all (which many do not) you won't be disappointed.
40 of 40 people found the following review helpful
A Ghostly History and Mystery 17 April 2006
By L. Durham - Published on
Format: Paperback
How does one tell the nearly 2000 year history of the relationship between the Body of Christ and the Holy Spirit? Charles Williams was well-read, thoughtful, and ambitious enough to try, and this book is the result. And beyond the history of the incorruptible Spirit of Eternal God informing and otherwise dealing with His ever mutating and apparently ever corruptible Church is the Mystery of their mutual "co-inherence." Williams is superb in continually reminding the reader of just how profound and multi-faceted this on-going puzzlement is.

The more familiar one is with both Williams' writing and neo-Platonic outlook on the one hand and Church (and European) history on the other, the more rewarding will be this book. However, if one is new to both, he should not plan to begin with this work. Parts of it will be nearly incomprehensible. If like me, you're already a fan of Williams and know a fair amount of Church history, you may still occasionally be put off by wading through yet another patch of "clotted glory" and then suddenly enthralled by his insight, perspective, and original way with language. If you plan to read Descent of the Dove, plan to take your time. You will probably need to and you will certainly want to.
49 of 52 people found the following review helpful
erudition and style 13 Jun. 2000
By NotATameLion - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book truly expresses the depth and universality of Christ's offer of redemption. Although some have called him difficult, Williams writes with wonderful erudition and style. This is my favorite book by Williams. If you like the writing of C.S. Lewis and George MacDonald, I recommend this book.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
Insightful Refresher on Church History 21 Oct. 2009
By S. Schuler - Published on
Format: Paperback
This book encapsulates Williams' view of the trajectory of church history. For Williams, church history has developed around a series of conflicts between opposing theological positions that threatened to tear the church apart. At each juncture, at which the church had the potential to reject some essential doctrine, a figure arose to reconcile the opposites and achieve continuing unity. (In more traditional theology, the Holy Spirit's primary role in the Christian life is to maintain unity, hence Williams' focus on the Holy Spirit in church history--the book is implicitly a history of Christian unity.) Williams suggests that these tensions are actually recurrences of one basic conflict within the church between the "Negative Way" (or the Way of Rejection) and the "Affirmative Way." Theologians will associate these ways with the apophatic and cataphatic traditions, respectively. Williams argues that these two strains of theology, while always in tension throughout church history, are not only reconcilable, but necessary for the full flourishing of the church's life.

Although the book is quite short, it is not a popular history of Christianity. (A thorough but readable church history for beginners is Justo L. Gonzalez's _The Story of Christianity_ in two volumes.) Williams' book is a thesis-driven supplement for those who already know the outline of church history but who want insight into it, or for those who once studied church history but have forgotten it. But the book is not a scholarly treatment of church history; it is neither comprehensive nor densely written, as a scholarly book would be. It is rather an insightful analysis of the resilience of Christian faith.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Descent of a great mind 18 May 2013
By joybells - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book should be required reading once a year for lay and clerical and seminarians. It would take many readings to absorb this rare combination of historical survey with a fine mystical mind. It will clarify your butter and give you such a sweet ghee.
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