Paradise or wasteland--the wilderness has always been a challenge to Westerners. Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought traces the exciting theme of the quest for the wilderness--both physical and metaphysical--to create a new and important perspective for understanding Christian civilization. With a wealth of knowledge, a renowned historian presents the biblical understanding of the religious and ethical significance of the desert and how this understanding has influenced later Christian history and culture. Dr. Williams specifically applies the paradise theme to the university today and shows the continuing vitality of this ancient concept. ""By vivid illustrations the reader is given a sense of tremendous sweep, from the biblical beginnings down the generations to the American frontier. And the theme will open fresh perspectives on many movements other than those discussed."" --James H. Nichols, Federated Theological Faculty of the University of Chicago ""By tracing the recurring wilderness motif in Christian thought, Professor Williams has identified a theme which again and again gave Christians insight into the meaning of their pilgrimage. His account of the related paradise motif in the development of the university is equally illuminating and suggestive."" --Winthrop S. Hudson, Colgate-Rochester Divinity School ""Williams reminds me, both in versatility and in intensity of research, of the great historians whose names are familiar. Nobody living would have, or could have, written these studies except George Williams."" --John T. McNeill, author of History and Character of Calvinism ""This book would delight the mind and heart of a Milton or a Coleridge or a Jonathan Edwards. Here are wide-ranging scholarship, theological perspicacity, poetic imagination, informing a study that follows the course of two of the major seminal ideas--desert and paradise--that through the centuries have fructified the biblical and the later Christian mind."" --James Luther Adams, Harvard University George H. Williams (1914-2000) was Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard University. Among his works are The Radical Reformation, The Norman Anonymous of 1100 A.D., and ""The Role of the Layman in the Ancient Church."" He was an editor of Harvard Theological Review, and of Greek, Roman and Byzantine Studies, and a contributor to the Library of Christian Classics. Wilderness and Paradise in Christian Thought is an expansion of Dr. Williams's presidential address to the American Society of Church History. It was delivered on the fiftieth anniversary of Frederick Jackson Turner's famous paper presented to the American Historical Society on the influence of the frontier on American history.
George H. Williams is the former Hollis Professor of Divinity at Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Williams is credited with helping to revitalize the Divinity School at Harvard University and produced the first comprehensive history of the school in 1954.
James D. Smith III is Associate Professor of Church History at Bethel Seminary San Diego, Lecturer in Theology and Religious Studies at the University of San Diego, and on the pastoral staff of College Avenue Baptist Church in San Diego. He is on the editorial board of Christian History & Biography magazine. He is also coeditor of The Subjective Eye: Essays in Culture, Religion, and Gender in Honor of Margaret R. Miles and of the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Christian Literature. Philip Sellew is Associate Professor of Classical and Near Eastern Studies and Director of Graduate Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is the author of the forthcoming volume The Hundredfold Reward: Martyrdom and Sexual Renunciation in Christian North Africa and is coeditor of Pauline Conversations in Context: Essays in Honor of Calvin J. Roetzel. He has been the editor of Currents in Research: Biblical Studies and Forum.