Pilgrim Pathways: Notes for a Diaspora People

Incarnational Discipleship

Major Writings of John Howard Yoder

Major Writings of John Howard Yoder (1927-1997).

1958 The Ecumenical Movement and the Faithful Church. Herald Press.

1959 Peace Without Eschatology? Herald Press. An early Yoder critique of “liberal” Christian pacifism.

 1961a As You Go: The Old Mission in the New Day. Herald Press.

 1961b Anabaptism in Flanders, 1530-1650: A Century of Struggle. Translated from the Flemish by JHY. Herald Press.

 1961c The Christian and Capital Punishment. Herald Press.

 1962 Christ and the Powers. By Hendrikus Berkhof. Translated from the Dutch by JHY. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Considering the huge influence since then of the “Principalities and Powers” theme in both NT studies and contemporary theology, Yoder’s translation of Berkhof has to count as one of his major contributions.

 1964a. The Christian Witness to the State. Faith and Life Press. Rev. Ed. 1977. New edition by Herald Press, 2002.

 1964b Discipleship as Political Responsibility. Herald Press. Rev. Ed., 2003.

 1968 Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Pacifism. Church Peace Mission, 6. Herald Press. Desperately needed back in print!

 1970 Karl Barth and the Problem of War. Abingdon Press. Now reprinted with other Barth essays. See below.

1971 Nevertheless: The Varieties and Shortcomings of Religious Pacifism. Herald Press. 2nd Ed., 1976. Revised and Expanded, 1992.  This is one of my favorite of Yoder’s books on pacifism and helped me to locate myself and to understand others.

1972a The Politics of Jesus: Vicit Agnus Noster. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Revised and Expanded Edition, 1994. Yoder’s most influential work and rightly so. I’d be willing to say that any minister today who has not read this book needs to. I have now worn out 3 copies of the first edition and one of the 2nd.

 1972b The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism. Herald Press. Reprinted Wipf & Stock, 1998.  This is a good place to begin in reading Yoder.  It contains his longest reflection on the Sermon on the Mount, among other great essays.

 1973 The Legacy of Michael Sattler. Classics of the Radical Reformation, 1. Herald Press. Edited and translated by JHY. This made the life and major writings of this early Anabaptist leader available in English for the first time.

 1977 The Schleitheim Confession. Translated by JHY. Herald Press. The earliest Anabaptist confession of faith.

 1981 Preface to Theology: Christology and Theological MethodPosthumously published by Brazos Press, 2002.

 1983a Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution: A Companion to BaintonEdited by Theodore Koontz and Andy Alexis-Baker and posthumously published by Brazos Press, 2009.  This companion violume to Roland Bainton’s classic work, Christian Attitudes to War and Peace circulated privately for years and was used by Yoder in a course taught (“Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution”) at both Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and the University of Notre Dame.  It is thinner in places that Bainton covers well and thicker where Bainton is thin.

 1983b What Would You Do?: A Serious Answer to a Standard Question. Herald Press. Revised and Expanded 1992. The first half of the book is Yoder’s attempt to answer the standard question to pacifists, “If a violent person threatened a loved one, what would you do?” The second half of the book are alternative answers by other pacifists: Count Leo Tolstoy, S. H. Booth-Clibborn (early British Pentecostal), C. J. Furness (Fellowship of Reconciliation, writing during WWII), Henry T. Hodgkin (British Quaker, Cambridge philosopher and one of the founders of the F.O.R.), Joan Baez (American Folk Singer), Dale W. Brown (Church of the Brethren theologian), Dale Aukerman (Mennonite theologian), Tom Skinner (African-American former gang member turned evangelist), anonymous missionary, Gladys Aylward (British missionary to China), Terry Dobson, Dorothy T. Samuel, Sarah Corson, Angie O’ Gorman, Peggy Gish (Church of the Brethren), Art Gish (Church of the Brethren), Lawrence Hart (Mennonite minister and traditional Cheyenne Peace Chief).

 1984a The Priestly Kingdom: Social Ethics as Gospel. University of Notre Dame Press.
The first major collection of JHY’s perspectives on method in Christian ethics, advocating a non-Constantinian view of the Church.

 1984b When War is Unjust: Being Honest in Just-War Thinking. Augsburg-Fortress Press. Revised Edition published by Orbis Books, 1996. This is one of the first and most serious pacifist attempts to take the Just War tradition seriously and reflect on what it would take to make such a moral system work. Many Christian Just War thinkers have been profoundly challenged by this work to strive to get their churches to recognize the difficulty and seriousness of JWT and not simply “baptize” whatever war or weapons or tactics governments want Christians to endorse. As a former soldier turned pacifist, this work influenced me to study JWT more thoroughly than most people who consider themselves in the JW tradition. I have used this to enlist JWT folk against particular wars.

 1985. He Came Preaching Peace. Herald Press. A collection of Bible lessons for adultsThis is another good place for beginning Yoder readers. Makes an excellent study book for adult church groups.

 1987 The Fullness of Christ: Paul’s Vision of Universal Ministry. Brethren Press.

 1989 Balthasar Hubmaier: Theologian of Anabaptism. Edited and Translated by H. Wayne Pipkin and John Howard Yoder. Herald Press. This is the first major collection of Hubmaier’s writings in English. Invaluable to historians of Anabaptism.

 1991a A Declaration on Peace: In God’s People the World’s Renewal Has Begun. Co-written with Douglas Gwyn, George Hunsinger, and Eugene F. Roop. Herald Press. This was a joint peace statement issued by the Historic Peace Churches and the Christian section of the Fellowship of Reconciliation. JHY represented the Mennonites, Gwyn the Friends/Quakers, Hunsinger, a Presbyterian, represented the FOR, and Roop the Church of the Brethren. JHY is the major author. I think I detect elements of Hunsinger, but since both Yoder and Hunsinger were deeply influenced by Barth, it’s hard to tell. Most of the book is classic Yoder.  Whereas the Reformed tradition has traditionally explicated Christology by the roles of “prophet, priest, and king,” leaving out the sage of the Wisdom writings, here all four Christological “offices” are expounded.  With each, the Declaration shows how the Church,  the community called out by Christ, participates in these offices, and the implications for nonviolence, peacemaking, and war resistance.

1991b The Death Penalty Debate: Two Opposing Views of Capital Punishmnent. Word Books. Co-written with H. Wayne House. House, an influential figure with the Conservative Baptist Association, argues in favor of capital punishment for murder. Yoder argues against. The comparison and contrast highlights issues of biblical interpretation and moral reasoning.

 1992 Body Politics: Five Christian Practices Before a Watching World. Abingdon Press. 2nd Edition, 2001.

 1994 The Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiological and Ecumenical. Edited with an Introduction by Michael G. Cartwright. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Some excellent essays, but Cartwright’s introductions are far too long, making the resulting volume over-large and  unnecessarily expensive.

 1996 Authentic Transformation: A New Vision of Christ and Culture. Abingdon Press.
Co-written with Glen H. Stassen and D. M. Yeager with a previously unpublished essay by H. Richard Niebuhr.

 1997 For the Nations: Essays Public and Evangelical. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Here
is some of Yoder’s most subtle reflections on the relation of “church,” and “world.” The title is a deliberately chosen reply to the work of Yoder’s friend and sometimes follower, Stanley Hauerwas.  This was the last book Yoder published before his unexpected death in late December 1997.

 2001 To Hear the Word. Wipf and Stock. Posthumously published reflections on biblical hermeneutics.

 2003a The Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited. Edited by Michael G. Cartwright and Peter Ochs. Eerdmans Publishing Co. Revised and Expanded in 2008. A major work in Jewish-Christian dialogue, it circulated privately for years and was never finally published until after Yoder’s death.

 2003b Karl Barth and the Problem of War and Other Essays on Barth. Edited by Mark Theissen Nation. Cascade Press.

 2004 Anabaptism and Reformation in Switzerland: An Historical and Theological Analysis of the Dialogues Between Anabaptists and Reformers. Ed. C. Arnold Snyder. Translated by David C. Stassen and C. Arnold Snyder. Pandora Press. This is the first translation in English of Yoder’s Th.D. dissertation at the University of Basel, previously published only in German.

2009.  The War of the Lamb: The Ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking.  Ed. Glen H. Stassen, Mark Theissen Nation, and Matt Hamsher.  Brazos Press.  Yoder was planning this book when he died. He had outlined it and had extensive notes on which essays to include. It is brilliant.

2010a. Nonviolence–A Brief History: The Warsaw Lectures.  Ed. Paul Martens, Matthew Porter, and Myles Werntz.  Baylor University Press. In 1983, in the midst of the Cold War, Yoder went to Warsaw, Poland and gave these series of lectures, deep in dialogue with the Catholic tradition.  They influenced Lech Walesa and the Solidarity-led nonviolent revolution in Poland.

2010b.  A Pacifist Way of Knowing:  John Howard Yoder’s Nonviolent Epistemology. Ed. Christian E. Early and Ted Grimsrud.  Cascade Books.  Gathers together essays of Yoder, some previously published, some unpublished until now, that show Yoder’s epistemology–how his commitment to pacifism controlled his dialogical approach to knowledge. This is one of he most important and least explored/appreciated facets of Yoder’s thought and the editors to us a great service by publishing them here. 

Yoder often had to be pushed by friends to publish writings that he, a perfectionist, did not think all that important. So, doubtless more posthumous collections will continue to appear. I know, for example, of a series of lectures that Yoder gave throughout Latin America during the 1970s. They were extraordinarily well received and the mss. have circulated in Spanish and English ever since, but the lectures have never been published in either language. Yoder was a true polyglot who was conversationally fluent in English, German, French, and Spanish, with advanced reading capability in Dutch, Flemish, and Portuguese as well. He carried on dialogues in nine (9) different languages.  Toward the end of his life he was studying modern Hebrew and Arabic in hopes of spending an extended stay in the Middle East. Considering all the sufferings of that area, I wish God had spared him for that trip alone.

At another time, I will give a brief bibliography of some of the best of the (growing) number of secondary studies on Yoder, but it is far more important for people to wrestle with Yoder’s thought directly, although reading Yoder takes practice! Do not attempt speed reading on his works!  But the struggle is worth it.


August 21, 2010 - Posted by | books, ethics, heroes, history of theology, theologians, theology

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