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Mel Robeck and Amos Yong: The Cambridge Companion to Pentecostalism

Pentecostalism is an expansive movement that cannot easily be categorized.

The final section turns to method. How does one study Pentecostalism or, better stated, the multiple Pentecostalisms? Beyond questions of origins and the general hisstories of a movement now spread across the globe, what might be the glue that holds such a movement together? What are the basic family resemblances among Pentecostals around the world? On the other hand, how does one celebrate yet evaluate the expansive nature of a movement that defies easy categorization? Contributors in this section assess the emergence, growth, and future of Pentecostalism through the lens of politics and economics, cultural anthropology, sociological narratives, spiritualities (beliefs, practices, liturgies), ecumenism, and interreligious dialogue. To my dismay, however, the volume includes no female contributors and also fails to produce a chapter on the role of gender issues in Pentecostalism. The convoluted history of the role of women in Pentecostalism surely warrants analysis for such a volume.

Pentecostals are more than Evangelicals who speak in tongues.

While much of the Pentecostal story must yet be told and evaluated, Robeck and Yong produce a thorough introductory volume for those newly interested in Pentecostalism and at the same time incite scholars and students to delve further into this rich field of study. Each contributor provides valuable endnotes and suggestions for further reading. As I think of the broader Pneuma Review readership, I also recommend this volume for ministers and local church educators. This work would serve well both as a resource for pastors or a book study volume for an informed Bible study or small group setting. Finally, I have already adopted this work for the course I teach on Pentecostal history and theology at Evangel University and would recommend it for similar courses whether at confessional or secular institutions. I often start the first day of class with the question, “what is a Pentecostal?” The most common refrain is akin to “we’re Evangelicals who speak in tongues.” I know this volume will help me guide my students to discover that “there’s more to Pentecostalism than this!” It should come as no surprise that the answer(s) to this question be found in the fitting title for the final chapter to the volume; in typical Yongian fashion, “Instead of a Conclusion”, there remains so much more to understand, explore, and evaluate. To this end, readers will only desire more.

Reviewed by Martin W. Mittelstadt


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Category: Fall 2014, In Depth

About the Author: Martin Mittelstadt, M.Div. (Providence Theological Seminary, 1990), Ph.D. (Marquette University, 2000), serves as Professor of Biblical Studies at Evangel University in Springfield, Missouri. He primarily makes his living in the Gospels and Luke-Acts (see his The Spirit and Suffering in Luke-Acts: Implications for a Pentecostal Pneumatology (Bloomsbury, 2004) and Reading Luke-Acts in the Pentecostal Tradition (CPT Press, 2010)). Ongoing interests tend to convergence around Pentecostal / Charismatic studies with a special attention to Pentecostal – Anabaptist relations (i.e. Mennocostalism), and spiritual formation. See his bio and publications on his Evangel University faculty page.

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