We live in a world dominated by noise. Religion is, for many, a haven from the clamor of everyday life, allowing us to pause for silent contemplation. But as Diarmaid MacCulloch shows, there are many forms of religious silence, from contemplation and prayer to repression and evasion. In his latest work, MacCulloch considers Jesus's strategic use of silence in his confrontation with Pontius Pilate and traces the impact of the first mystics in Syria on monastic tradition. He discusses the complicated fate of silence in Protestant and evangelical tradition and confronts the more sinister institutional forms of silence. A groundbreaking book by one of our greatest historians.
"In the first part of his compelling new book, Diarmaid MacCulloch explores the use of silence in spiritual practice, but it is in the second part that he constructs his main challenge. Here he speaks not of the lovely silence of that which cannot be spoken, but of the ugly silence that cloaks evil. . . . MacCulloch's account is peppered with the kind of delicious asides that make him such a compulsively readable historian."
"--The Times, " Book of the Week
""Silence" is intellectually robust, and without the prevarications and self-qualifications that sometimes stymie academic prose. . . . MacCulloch is by turns precise, poetic and righteously indignant."
"MacCulloch is a superb raconteur, full of imagination, wit, irony and fun, who entertains, challenges, enlightens and occasionally enrages his readers. But beyond mere storytelling and the skilful display of his strength of learning, he also takes a strong ethical stance in telling the truth and revealing some of the darker sides of Christian history."
"--The Times Higher Education"
Table of Contents:
Preface and Acknowledgements -- Introduction: The Witness of Holmes's Dog --
The Bible -- 1. Silence in Christian Prehistory: The Tanakh -- Israel and the Celebration of Noise -- A God who Speaks -- 'Be still before the Lord' -- The Suffering Servant -- Silence, Plato and the Creator-God -- 2. The Earliest Christian Silences: The New Testament -- Jesus: Ending Silence -- Jesus: Embracing Silence -- The Gospels Interpret Jesus -- Paul's Noisy Christians -- 'About half an hour' --
The Triumph of Monastic Silence -- 3. Forming and Breaking a Church: 100-451 CE -- Ignatius, Bishops and the Great Disappointment -- Gnostics and Silence -- Catholic Christianity, Silence and the Philosophers -- Martyrs and Confessors -- The First Ascetics and Monks -- Desert Fathers? -- 'That yonder' -- Evagrius: Meditation and Contemplation -- 4. The Monastic Age in East and West: 451-1100 -- Silence beyond Chalcedon -- Dionysius versus Augustine -- Monks in the Latin West: The Rule of St Benedict -- Dionysius and Cluny -- New Orders for the Western Church --
Silence through Three Reformations -- 5. From Iconoclasm to Erasmus: 700-1500 -- Icons: Contemplation for All -- The Latin West: A Different Path -- Orthodoxy and Hesychasm -- Gregorian Reform in the West -- Monks and Mystics -- The Devotio Moderna and Erasmus -- 6. The Protestant Reformation: 1500-1700 -- Justifying Protestant Noise -- Music and Church Buildings -- Protestants, Inner Silence and Tolerance -- Radical Protestants: Word and Spirit -- Stuart England and the Quakers -- Tridentine Catholicism: Defending Traditions -- Tridentine Mystics and their Trials --
Reaching behind Noise in Christian History -- 7. Silences for Survival -- Nicodemism: Name and Thing -- Iberian Jews: converses -- Nicodemites in Reformation and Counter-Reformation -- England: A Variety of Nicodemites -- Reformation Radicals: Word and Silence -- Gay Anglo-Catholics: Let He who Has Ears to Hear -- 8. Things Not Remembered -- Building Identity through Forgetfulness -- Silence, Sex and Gender -- Shame: A Dark Theme -- Concealing Clerical Child Abuse -- Western Christianity and the Holocaust -- Christians, the Bible and Slavery -- 9. Silence in Present and Future Christianities -- Retrospect: Wild-tracks -- Varieties of Modern Christian Silence -- Whistle-blowing -- Ecumenism in Silence -- Music and Silence -- Patterns in Scripture, Silence and Sin -- Further Reading -- Notes -- Index.