The Descent of the Dove; A Short History of the Holy Spirit in the Church
New York: Pellegrini and Cudahy, 1939. First American edition. Octavo, original orange red cloth, bottom edge uncut, original dust jacket. Book fine, dust jacket with small creased tear to top rear panel, very faint toning to spine and edges. A handsome copy. Item #929
"THE HEAVENLY SECRETS OPENED UPON THEM, AND THERE WAS COMMUNICATED TO THAT GROUP OF JEWS, IN A RUSH OF WIND AND A DAZZLE OF TONGUED FLAME, THE SECRET OF THE PARACLETE IN THE CHURCH"
First American edition of Charles Williams's "biography" of the Holy Spirit—illustrated with a frontispiece (Lodovico Brea's "Paradise") and dedicated, "For the Companions of Co-inherence."
In "what may be his most widely read theological work, The Descent of the Dove," Williams presents "a history of the Church in the form of a biography of the Holy Spirit, written in a distinctly Anglican idiom" (Zaleski and Zaleski). The text is preceded by a brief Preface, with Williams's explanation that "the themes of this book are also discussed, from different points of view, in other books of mine—in Descent into Hell, He came down from Heaven, and Taliessen through Logres." Chief among these themes was "Co-inherence," one of his great doctrines and "the ruling principle of Williams's life and the idea for which he is best remembered" (Zaleski). Co-inherence is modeled on the Holy Trinity, "so, too, are we part of one another, co-inhering in our shared human nature and in the Mystical Body of Christ" (Zaleski).
Williams describes Pentecost as the "visible beginning of the Church" to a "small secret group" of Disciples: "the heavenly Secrets opened upon them, and there was communicated to that group of Jews, in a rush of wind and a dazzle of tongued flame, the secret of the Paraclete in the Church. Our Lord Messias had vanished in his flesh; our Lord the Spirit expressed himself towards the flesh and spirit of the disciples. The Church, itself one of the Secrets, began to be." The nine chapters: I. The Definition of Christendom, II. The Reconciliation of Time, III. The Compensations of Success, IV. The War of the Frontiers, V. The Imposition of Belief, VI. Consummation and Schism, VII. The Renewal of Contrition, VIII. The Quality of Disbelief, IX. The Return of the Manhood. Postscript. Chronological Table of the Christian Church, stretching from A.D 30 ("Ascent of our Lord and Descent of the Holy Ghost") to the beginning of the Second World War. The back panel of the jacket advertises 'Novels by Charles Williams' with a blurb describing Williams: "A great English believer unites the seen with the unseen in a glory and a terror that are unforgettable" (N.Y. Herald Tribune). Zaleski and Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings.