The Yoder Index facilitates quality Yoder scholarship by creating a powerful research tool that enables users to identify where Yoder writes about specific topics, Scriptures, persons, and publications.
The Yoder Index was the 2009 brainchild of two PhD students who were writing dissertations on John Howard Yoder. Branson Parler and John Nugent were chatting at a conference devoted to Yoder studies and discussing how unwieldy it was to sift through everything he has said about their respective topics. Much of his best material was available only in obscure publications, unpublished files stored in the deep recesses of Mennonite archives, rare books and conference proceedings that few people know exist, and un-transcribed cassette tapes and audio files from churches, colleges, and retreat centers. To do justice to Yoder's work therefore requires one to sift through this vast sea of pertinent information with the tenacity of an investigative reporter. As evident on the Indexed Works Page, Yoder’s literary corpus includes approximately 27 books, 270 published articles that were not republished in one of his books, and 170 unpublished writings. Some of Yoder’s best insights on a wide array of important topics are scattered widely among these works.
John Howard Yoder wasn't just the twentieth century's most articulate proponent of Christian nonviolence, he was a brilliant theologian whose breadth and depth of biblical, theological, historical, philosophical, and ecclesial insight rivals that of leading thinkers throughout church history. Many such thinkers have professional societies who have gathered their works into a uniform collected set and provided a thorough index that indicates where one might find their best insights on any particular topic. In Yoder’s case, numerous scholars in cooperation with several different publishing companies have been meticulously transcribing and gathering difficult to access writings into published volumes and digital archives. Yet this effort was not coordinated in such a way that we might access them all in a single, well-indexed set. In fact, most of these works are not indexed at all.
Rather than duplicate or republish all of Yoder’s important work into a single collection, we began exploring a twenty-first century solution. We would gather together all of the scattered work, publish some of the most important unpublished pieces (in the "Yoder for Everyone" series), and create a free online index that enables researchers to locate with pinpoint accuracy wherever Yoder talks about any particular topic, person, passage, or publication. We didn't want this index to be a mere concordance that merely indicates where a word occurs on a page. We wanted a smart index that indicates whenever a topic is discussed, regardless of what word is used, since many important topics are discussed under a wide variety of rubric.
As we suspected, a software platform capable of executing an intuitive database of this nature did not already exist. So with partial funding from Shalom Publications (overseen by the Yoder literary legacy committee) and the help of several computer programmers headed up by Jason Vance, we began creating the Yoder Index from scratch and carrying out the painstaking work of reading and proofreading every writing in order to extract the required information. After nearly a decade of work, we are proud to announce that this enormous task is as complete as a work of this sort can be. All that remains is to maintain the search engine and web interface and to update the database when addition Yoder publications are released—a process that appears finally to be slowing down.
So make good use of this tool and please spread the word by liking and sharing our Facebook page and by acknowledging in a footnote whenever this resource has greatly facilitated your own research and writing in Yoder studies.
Those with questions or suggestions as to how the Yoder Index may be improved can contact John C. Nugent.
About the contributors to The Yoder Index
John C. Nugent is Professor of Bible and Theology at Great Lakes Christian College (Lansing, MI). He is the author of Endangered Gospel: How Fixing the World is Killing the Church (2016) and The Politics of Yahweh: John Howard Yoder, the Old Testament, and the People of God (2011). He is co-editor of the "Yoder For Everyone" series, which includes Real Christian Fellowship (2014), Revolutionary Citizenship (2013), and Radical Christian Discipleship (2012). Before that, he edited Radical Ecumenicity: Pursuing Unity and Continuity after John Howard Yoder (2010) and The End of Sacrifice: The Capital Punishment Writings of John Howard Yoder (2011). Additional published essays on Yoder appear in Let Us Attend (2015), Constantine Revisited (2013), the Journal of Religious Ethics (2011), The Mennonite Quarterly Review (2011), Radical Ecumenicity (2010), and Power and Practices (2009). To see what Nugent has done beyond Yoder studies, visit his websites: endangeredgospel.com and walkandword.com.
Branson Parler is Professor of Theological Studies at Kuyper College (Grand Rapids, MI). He is the author of Things Hold Together: John Howard Yoder's Trinitarian Theology of Culture (2012) and the Ebook "The Forest and the Trees: Engaging Paul Martens' The Heterodox Yoder" (2012). He is also co-editor of the "Yoder For Everyone" series, which includes Real Christian Fellowship (2014), Revolutionary Citizenship (2013), and Radical Christian Discipleship (2012). Additional published essays on Yoder appear in Constantine Revisited (2013), Radical Ecumenicity (2010), and Power and Practices (2009). To see what Parler had done beyond Yoder studies, visit his website: bransonparler.com.
Jason Vance recieved his M.Div. from Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary. He currently works at Michigan State University and serves at Delta Community Christian Church (Lansing, MI).
We are grateful to the following people for their assistance:
Chadrick Mahaffey, Josh Kelley, and Kyle Lewis for help with website and database development
Margaryta Teslina for help with data entry on Nevertheless, Jewish-Christian Schism Revisited, When War Is Unjust, Fullness of Christ, Revolutionary Christianity, Politics of Jesus, Karl Barth, Priestly Kingdom, Christian Attitudes, Theology of Mission
Joel Ickes for help with data entry on For the Nations, To Hear the Word, Preface to Theology
Heather Bunce for help with data entry on Body Politics