Required Reading

Spiritual Classics, at a Bookstore Near You

When my first book was published, nearly three decades ago, my editor asked if I had other ideas for books. I suggested that the publishing house start a series of spiritual classics that would combine good new translations with useful introductory essays. My advice to this secular publishing firm with strong titles in religion went nowhere.

At the time, the publisher felt there was no need or demand for such volumes. Ironically, a few years before I made my suggestion, the first volumes of Paulist Press’s now long-running series The Classics of Western Spirituality appeared. That series, with new volumes still being released, has been a tremendous success. Beginning with books like Julian of Norwich’s Showings (one of the earliest volumes in the series, published in 1978), two exemplary volumes on Meister Eckhart edited by Bernard McGinn, and the late Ewert Cousins’s Bonaventure (also 1978), the Paulist series remains a staple in both classrooms and personal libraries. Not all of the volumes have been as strong or as successful as the initial ones, but, by and large, Classics came at the right time, just as interest in Christian spirituality took off following Vatican II. Theologians like Hans Urs von Balthasar and Karl Rahner whetted the Catholic reading...

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About the Author

Lawrence Cunningham is John O'Brien professor of Theology (Emeritus) at the University of Notre Dame.