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Symbols of Church and Kingdom: A Study in Early Syriac Tradition Paperback – 23 Feb 2006

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Paperback: 412 pages
  • Publisher: T & T Clark International; Revised edition edition (23 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0567030822
  • ISBN-13: 978-0567030825
  • Product Dimensions: 15.6 x 2.1 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,631,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description


'A superb work' Wayne A Meeks, Yale University

'This scrupulous book with an unfailing historical sense is alive to the language of the Late Romans, laying bare with sympathy the way in which Syriac-speaking Christians spoke of the Church.' The New York Review of Books

'After more than a quarter of a century Robert Murray's Symbols of Church and Kingdom still remains by far the best introduction to early Syriac Christianity. It has justly become something of a classic.' Sebastian Brock, University of Oxford

About the Author

Robert Murray, a Jesuit priest and former lecturer in Heythrop College (University of London), is also the author of 'The Cosmic Covenant: Biblical Themes of Justice, Peace and the Integrity of Creation.'

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
The author, Robert Murray, s.j., was a friend of mine for many years until we lost touch about 15 years ago.

This book has been highly praised by Robert's fellow scholars, especially colleagues in this particular field.

I think he has a number of colleagues, but perhaps no more than 100 peers.

He is Steven Hawking, not Carl Sagan.

If you don't have some knowledge of the material covered by this book, you will probably not be able to read it.

If you do, you MUST read it.

This is not light bedtime reading. It is not recommended reading for an amateur scholar. I doubt that it is even course material for anyone not doing post-graduate work in theology.

I think my daughter might be able to enjoy it, since she has her S.T.L. from Notre Dame and teaches theology.

This book reminds me of the definition of the moral imperative. If such an imperative can exist, it MUST exist.

Or something like that. If you don't already know what I'm talking about, or what I'm mixing up with something else, look for another book. You won't be able to make any sense of this one.

I couldn't, and I read Kierkegaard for fun when I was in high school.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential reading for anyone interested in Syriac Christianity 9 April 2008
By Paul Stevenson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I came to the study of Syriac primarily out of linguistic interest. However, I soon found that one cannot read Syriac literature without running into a forest of elaborate symbolism. Many, if not most, of the symbols are unfamiliar to those whose background is in Western (Catholic or Protestant) Christianity. Yet these symbols form an elaborate and beautiful pattern, once you become familiar with them.

"Symbols of Church and Kingdom" is without a doubt the best overall treatment of this subject available. Robert Murray carefully takes readers through many symbols and their many variations as found in Syriac writers. The book is well written and thorough, but the nature of its subject matter does make it somewhat dense. It is a trip through a large forest that proceeds by examining every tree and vine. However, there seems to be little alternative if one is to gain the perspective necessary. Just like studying the grammar of a new language, with all its noun declensions, singulars and plurals, or its verbs with their plethora of tenses and moods, each item has to be individually studied in order for the student to master it.

Murray divides his book into two main sections. Part I, "Themes of Christ and the Church," is divided into seven chapters:

I. 'The Nation and the Nations'
II. The Body of Christ
III. The Vineyard, the Grape and the Tree of Life
IV. The Church, Bride and Mother
V. Titles shared by Christ and the Apostles or Bishops
VI. The Rock and the House on the Rock
VII. The 'Pilgrim Church' and its Fulfilment

Part II consists of a single chapter, "In Search of the Sources." In this, Murray seeks to ferret out the sources of the many interesting and curious symbols presented in Part I. These sources he labels Jewish tradition, Greco-Latin Christianity and "that uncertainly-defined field which is called Judaeo-Christian." The search is fascinating!

I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in Syriac Christianity. But be prepared for a journey of many steps.
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