Drawing upon the methodology developed in his Dynamics of Theology (1990) and exemplified in Jesus Symbol of God (1999), Roger Haight, in this magisterial work, achieves what he calls an historical ecclesiology, or ecclesiology from below. In contrast to traditional ecclesiology from above, which is abstract, idealist, and ahistorical, ecclesiology from below is concrete, realist, and historically conscious.
In this first of two volumes, Haight charts the history of the church's self-understandings from the origins of the church in the Jesus movement to the late Middle Ages. In volume 2 Haight develops a comparative ecclesiology based on the history and diverse theologies of the worldwide Christian movement from the Reformation to the present. While the ultimate focus of the work falls on the structure of the church and its theological self-understanding, it tries to be faithful to the historical, social, and political reality of the church in each period.
"While maintaining the theological nature of his study, Roger Haight's historical ecclesiology lays a sturdy foundation in a historical, sociological analysis of the beginnings and development of the Christian Church from its origin in Jesus of Nazareth to the eve of the Reformation... This is a groundbreaking volume... Haight has served all ecclesiologists well by initiating a way of looking at ecclesiology as it develops on the ground, so to speak. He has done it with theological integrity and clear analyses. He challenges us all to understand differences as values and the most appropriate way for the incarnation to continue through human history, honoring both the human and the divine whether in the stable or the palace of the council chamber." -Catholic Studies/ http://www.CatholicBooksReview.org/, 2005 Cover Story Feature on Haight -National Catholic Reporter, 2/25/05 "While maintaining the theological nature of his study, Roger Haight's historical ecclesiology lays a sturdy foundation in a historical, sociological analysis of the beginnings and development of the Christian Church from its origin in Jesus of Nazareth to the eve of the Reformation...each chapter concludes with a social historical analysis and a few illuminating pages that draw out principles for historical theology. It is these analytic pages that set Haight's book apart from other studies...This is a groundbreaking volume." -Catholic Books Review, 2005 -- Catholic Books Review "Haight presupposes a Christian unity in the face of religious pluralism within the historical context of postmodernity..."- Susan K. Wood -- Susan K. Wood "Roger Haight's two-volume Christian Community in History is an ambitious, multi-layered work that defines the common divisions in ecclesiological approaches. In integrating a history of the church with both theological and social scientific analyses, Haight adopts themes that James Gustafson explored decades ago in Treasure in Earthen Vessels, but which have pretty much disappeared from ecclesiology ever since." -- Amy Plantinga Pauw "Haight displays a laudable awareness of the complexity of issues... Ultimately, though, what will give this book landmark status in the discipline of ecclesiology will be its method; it is a truly critical and historical study in a discipline struggling with how to order itself in the contemporary theological world." -Anglican Theological Review "Haight displays a laudable awareness of the complexity of issues... Ultimately, though, what will give this book landmark status in the discipline of ecclesiology will be its method; it is a truly critical and historical study in a discipline struggling with how to order itself in the contemporary theological world." -Anglican Theological Review "Haight proceeds with a historical analysis of the self-constitution of the Church from its origins as a Jesus movement to the heights of medieval Christendom and concludes the volume with the era of conciliarism in the late medieval Church. Several of the essays cast light on the act of reading scripture as a theological exercise, as an encounter with the divine. Thus, a common thread running through this volume is the theological conviction that the prime subject of scriptural interpretation is in fact the self-revealing God. Other contributions offer fascinating explorations of theological interpretation and intertextuality as exemplified with the scripture itself. Haight's study of late medieval ecclesiology sheds light on the all but forgotten influence of conciliarism in healing the Western rift in the papacy. While I find the author's historical study quite insightful. I found this a very helpful, scholarly trek though the major developments in the Roman Catholic Church's self-understanding." -Toronto Journal of Theology "After gaining much renown for his Christology from below Haight applies his methodology to ecclesiology. In this first of a projected two-volume ecclesiology from below, Haight traces the history of the church from its beginnings into the late Middle Ages, concluding with a positive assessment of conciliarism... Recommended." -Choice, 5/05 Choice "I salute Haight for the extraordinary accomplishment represented in this two-volume work..."- Richard P. McBrien, Horizons Horizons "Haight's comparable efforts to find methods based on a hermeneutics of authors, a hermeneutics of texts, and a hermeneutics of receivers can open up a common ground amidst diverse viewpoints for understanding the church, foster new formulations about the church's identity and mission, and affirm common practices."- Bradford E. Hinze, Religious Studies Review Religious Studies Review Review in German in Theologische Literaturzeitung 131 (2006) Theologische Literaturzeitung