The official launch has taken place of the first ever multi-volume history of worldwide Anglicanism to be published by a major university press. The Oxford History of Anglicanism, in five volumes, covers the growth of worldwide Anglicanism with more than 100 international scholars contributing. Three volumes have appeared already and a further two are due later this year.
The person who had the idea for these volumes is Professor Rowan Strong, who oversaw the whole ten year process and worked with the individual editors, as well as being the editor of the third volume. He comes from Anglican Church of Australia, and teaches at Murdoch University in Perth.
The study looks at how Anglican identity was constructed and contested at various periods from the sixteenth century and what has been its historical influence during the past six centuries. It explores not just the ecclesiastical and theological aspects of global Anglicanism, but also the political, social, economic, and cultural influences of this form of Christianity that has been historically significant in western culture, and a burgeoning force in non-western societies today. The chapters are written by international experts in their various historical fields which includes the most recent research in their areas, as well as original research.
Speaking at the official launch, the Director for Unity, Faith and Order at the Anglican Communion Office, Canon John Gibaut, described the five volumes as a timely gift: “There has been a flourishing of scholarly reflection on various elements of the Anglican tradition in recent decades: our history, ecclesiology, theology, theological methodology, canon law, liturgy, the quest for holiness and so much more. The most comprehensive contributions are in these three—soon to be five—volumes of The Oxford History of Anglicanism.”
Canon John reflected that the context for the volume, as well as for many other recent publications, “is one of crisis that goes to the core of what it means to be Anglican, what it means to be Church and a communion of churches in the Anglican tradition. The strains that signal new limits to diversity are indicators of a crisis of Anglican identity, both within provincial churches, and between them” he said. He described the volumes as a challenge to the Anglican Communion, and also a sign of hope.
At approximately 135 US dollars (£95) per volume, Canon John also appealed for assistance so that the books can be supplied to theological libraries in the global south:
“From the perspective of the Anglican Communion, I would urge that arrangements be made that these volumes find their way into our theological libraries - so that as they disclose our common past, they might nourish the seeds of our global destiny.”