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.
"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