Reviewed by Jeremy Thomson
This book is one of a number of essay collections published since the death of John Howard Yoder that reflect on his writings and their continuing significance for Christian theology and ethics. Indeed, several of the essays in this set have already been published in previous Yoder collections (indicated thus*), and so, if you are keeping up with work on Yoder, you may find that you have already read them before.
Most of these essays juxtapose Yoder’s thought with influential thinkers:
Gerald Schlabach: “The Christian Witness in the Earthly City: John Howard Yoder as Augustinian Interlocutor.”*
Peter Blum: “Foucault, Genealogy, Anabaptism: Confessions of an Errant Postmodernist”*; “Yoder’s Patience and/with Derrida’s Différance.”*
Chris Huebner: “Patience, Witness, and the Scattered Body of Christ: Yoder and Virilio on Knowledge, Politics, and Speed.”*
Alain Epp Weaver: “Yoder, [Edward] Said and a Politics of Land and Return.”
J. Alexander Sider: “Memory in the Politics of Forgiveness” (this is a brilliant critique of Miroslav Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace).
Jonathan Tran: “Laughing with the World: Possibilities of Hope in John Howard Yoder and Jeffrey Stout.”
Joseph R Weibe: “Fracturing Evangelical Recognitions of Christ: Inheriting the Radical Democracy of John Howard Yoder with the Penumbral Vision of Rowan Williams.”
Nathan R, Kerr: “Certeau, Yoder, and the Missionary Space of the Church.”
Nancey Murphy’s essay, “John Howard Yoder’s Systematic Defense of Christian Pacifism”* does what it says – and seems rather out of place in this collection. The remaining essays interact more directly with Yoder’s work, and I found these the more interesting.
Daniel Boyarin: “Judaism as a Free Church: Footnotes to John Howard Yoder’s The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited.”
P. Travis Kroeker: “The War of the Lamb: Postmodernity and Yoder’s Eschatological Genealogy of Morals” (this includes significant nuanced reflections on O’Donovan’s criticism of Yoder).
Romand Coles: “The Wild Patience of John Howard Yoder: “Outsiders” and the “Otherness of the Church” (this argues strongly that vulnerable relations with outsiders are integral to the otherness of the church).
Cynthia Hess: “Traumatic Violence and Christian Peacemaking.”
Daniel Colucciello Barber: “Epistemological Violence, Christianity and the Secular.”
In one or two instances these essayists point out infelicities in Yoder’s work, but in the main they reinforce the significance of Yoder as a subtle and influential thinker, who rightly resisted systematization, and who patiently worked out significant implications of the cross of Jesus. And they encourage other thinkers to take up that enterprise in new ways.