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Diakonia: Re-Interpreting the Ancient Sources [Paperback]

John N. Collins

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Book Description

May 27 2009 0195396022 978-0195396027
This is the first comprehensive study of the Greek word ''diakonia,'' from which the word ''deacon'' is derived. Diakonia and its cognates appear frequently throughout the New Testament, but its precise meaning has long been disputed. Today, it is usually translated ''service'' or ''ministry.'' As Collins shows, this understanding of diakonia has been important to the development of a modern consensus about the nature of Christian ministry. Based on the understanding that diakonia is ''service'' and that the diakonos (deacon) is a ''servant,'' nearly all Christian bodies today agree that the central idea of ministry is that of helping the needy, and that the ''servant'' church should be humbly devoted to helping the world, after the model of Jesus. Collins conducts an exhaustive study of diakonia in Christian and non-Christian sources from about 200 BCE to 200 CE. He finds that in all such sources the word is used to mean ''messenger'' or ''emissary,'' and has no implications of humility or of helping the needy. This discovery undermines much of the theological discussion of ministry that has taken place over the past fifty years.

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"Now John N. Collins has challenged the nineteenth and early twentieth century definitions and has supplied us with a whole gamet of rich associations."--Distinctive Diacarate

"A significant contribution to the field of New Testament studies that is both solid and illuminating. It will clear the deck for new examinations of how the church needs to understand and order its ministry if it wishes to take the New Testament sources seriously."--John Koenig, General Theological Seminary

"Challenging and thought-provoking"--Bryn Mawr Classical Review

"Will be interesting for scholars of classical and early Christian writings who are concerned to trace the use of a particular word in a variety of contexts."--Theological Book Review

"Collins results are doubly important: both a convincing reading of the range of meanings of these words and a clear warning against an overzealous and premature attempt to make lexical study relevant. One will learn much...from the general results and particular observations."--Patristics

"A very full and thorough survey of texts drawn from pagan and rabbinic, as well as Christian literature that might throw light on what the early Christians really meant by diakonia and its derivatives....The author combines the virtue of detailed scholarship with a vision for the future....Students will be grateful for the author's solid and illuminating survey of the various meanings givenin New Testament times and just after to the term diakonia, and may be encouraged to apply these in the church today."--Theology

"This is a challenging book....Collins raises important questions about how we understand the diakon- words....Though it may alter some routinely accepted expositions of our time, Collins' scholarship could also enrich and expand current understandings and expectations of ministry."--Lutheran Partners

About the Author

John N. Collins is retired Professor of Biblical Studies at Loreto Mandeville Hall in Melbourne.

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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  1 review
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SUCH A GREAT BOOK, SO SAD IT IS OUT OF PRINT Feb. 20 2000
By Andrew Pianosi - Published on Amazon.com
What a tragedy. This OUP book is out of print. Is there anyone out there who can persuade the gnomes of publishing to get this one back into circulation? It is hard to imagine a more challenging publiction and it is interesting that it has been quoted by Cardinal Ratzinger. Clearly the author is onto something which predates the vision of Martin Luther. As an environmental student with a cursory interest in theology, I commend the author for having "brought me along" with him. Great stuff. Only sorry I have a secondhand copy. I would have liked to have ordered some as presents. OUP SALES: TAKE NOTE OF THE SALES WINNER YOU HAVE ON YOUR LIST!

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