I recently learned from Tim Furry that the Wiley-Blackwell Challenges in Contemporary Theology series is coming to an end. Only a day or two later I noticed that Cambridge is also ending its Current Issues in Theology series.
These are pretty significant cuts. There are certainly many places to publish theological work, but one thing that I take to be important about the Wiley-Blackwell and Cambridge series is that they are well-respected avenues of theological publication, edited by some of the most prominent theologians doing English-language work, and put out by publishers that are not themselves particularly identified with religious or theological work. That is, they are not like Eerdmans, Fortress, or St. Vladimir's, where the publisher's identity is closely tied to its theology catalogue and anyone working with them is likely invested or conversant in theological or other religious work. I think that the discipline of theology will be at its healthiest when there are numerous publication options at publishers like Cambridge or Wiley-Blackwell. Religious houses are of course important and will probably always provide the bulk of our published literature, but a presence amongst the other disciplines in the offerings of general academic publishers is an essential representation for theology to maintain. Numerous places remain for pursuing this interdisciplinary standard: publishers like Continuum, Ashgate, Routledge, and Oxford (and to a lesser extent Duke, Indiana, Chicago, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, etc.) continue to offer theological work... Cambridge and Wiley-Blackwell will also surely continue to do so despite cutting their respective contemporary theology series (both carry important theological journals, too). But the cuts are undeniably striking, especially because the editors for these book series are synonymous with a current constructive theological mainstream that seeks to bring theology into its own again and pursue work that is in conversation with, though not merely derivative of, other disciplines. My concern is that the loss of these series might signal a trend towards theology being published by general academic houses primarily when it is embraced for this relatively weaker relevance of derivative relationships to other fields.