Monday, October 09, 2006

Books I Just Bought

Foolishness to the Greeks is one of those books I've been meaning to read, if for no other reason than to understand the footnotes in just about every OTHER book I've already read. In this most classic of his many writings, Newbigin details the stormy interface between the Gospel and Western culture, replete with discussions of science and politics. All of the hype surrounding the word "missional" finds its substance in Newbigin, and that from an experienced missonary in (from my experience, anyway) one of the most culturally Gospel-inocculated countries in the world - India.

The Drama of Scripture is among the first books I've recieved and it is the one I'm currently reading. In the tradition of Cornelius Plantinga's Engaging God's World it's intended as a primer for college students in which Bartholomew and Green give the basic framework for interpreting all of life's experiences. Taking its cues in part from N.T. Wright and Al Wolters, the concept of story guides this treatment of the Christian worldview in six (as opposed to Wright's five) acts. Though the authors are informed by such philosophical luminaries as Alasdair MacIntyre and Nicholas Wolterstorff technical discussion never ends up hogging the camera, as the Biblical story takes center stage. It's proving to be a highly recommended read already. If you're interested in the topic, check out their website, based on this book.

Being compared to C.S. Lewis in any light is high praise, and Wright's book has recieved plenty of it. With Lewis' Mere Christianity haunting every page, Wright gives compelling reasons for intelligent unbelievers to consider taking Christianity seriously. The primary differnce bewteen the old classic and Wright's likely candidate for future canonization is that the former attempted to reason from commonly held first principles to Christianity along a track of logical necessity whereas the latter simply (note the title) presents the essence of Christian belief with all its internal logical consistency. The result is something that may have been lacking by the end of Lewis' treatment, namely the aesthetics of Christianity. If Lewis addressed the issue of truth, Wright builds upon it an edifice of beauty.

Having read Francis Watson's impressive and astute Paul and the Hermeneutics of Faith and being a huge fan of anything by Kevin Vanhoozer, I'm really looking forward to this little book. I've been interested in the topic of theological hermeneutics since I started reading the Scripture and Hermeneutics Series (I'm currently on volume six), and though I've seen others interact with him some, I've never read anything by Stephen Fowl. With the renewed interest in the topic (even recently spawning a new SBL study group) there's a torrent of literature available, which makes collections of essays one of the more efficient ways to keep up. Vanhoozer's recent book The Drama of Doctrine attempts to maintain propositional elements lost in postliberal approaches, and seeks to give standards for normative interpretation outside an often wayward Church without falling into the pitfalls of supposedly neutral "scientific" approaches. I'm interested in seeing his interaction with Fowl and Adam on the issue.

One of the recurrent themes in Joel Green's work, both exegetical and theological, is his attempt to bridge the gap between Biblical Studies and dogmatics. Historically at odds with one another, the divide is best seen by the distrust each discipline manifests toward the other. Commentaries repeatedly warn of the danger of importing one's theology into the text while theologians warn of the danger of atomizing the Biblical text, at the same time reminding us that without theology the Bible remains nothing more than an interesting archaeological artifact. In Between Two Horizons: Spanning New Testament Studies and Systematic Theology, Green and Turner have collected several exciting essays both describing the problems and paving the way for possible solutions. Contributors include Stephen Fowl, Robert Wall, John Christopher Thomas, John Goldingay, Steve Motyer, Trevor Hart and N.T. Wright, as well as an introductory essay by the editors.

I pre-ordered this book by Norman Wirzba based on the title alone. I don't know anything about the author, and I wasn't really looking for something on the subject - but the idea of a Christian theology of enjoying life derived from Israel's Sabbath practices is just fascinating. Working with youth, I've encountered two sorts of kids, both of which see relaxation as a brief worldly respite from the rigors of Christian discipline. The difference is that one kind of kid is cool with the worldly nature of enjoying life (in moderation), while the other isn't. It's the classic divide between libertinism and legalism, and everyone I know (including myself) leans in one direction or the other. I'm hoping this book helps in filling out a third way to a very practical problem.


BKC said...

Thanks for these little snippets. I hope you review a couple of these. I always like to get details like these about what is out there to read.

Brian Coffey

weswise said...

You're a geek.

weswise said...

Hey Sharad, are you still doing that book club? If you aren't, you should again; if you are, then perhaps I'd like to join if I find my free time opening up (after LT class or something). I had an opportunity to witness in my Philosophy class! Basically the professor, who actually claims to be a Christian, was saying (indirectly, it wasn't his point) that religions were cults. So nervously but faithfully I asked him if he could defend his statement and he gave some reference to how religions always start with a few people and then referenced it to Muslims. Then I asked him about the Christian religion and who would have started it, he said that it would be started by Jesus and his disc. and whoever, and so then I asked him about the prophecies of a coming Christ; and he said that it was a theological issue (it seemed like he was in "I could get fired" territory) and so he said that personally he had his own conviction about it. I also asked if the resurrection of Jesus, the miracles, and prophecies were just a manifestation of the human flesh, he responded saying that as a philosopher we would ask whether or not miracles could even happen and that we would talk about it in the religion lecture. So it seemed like he was agreeing with my points and didn't have much of a rebuttel, but I'm wondering why he was mentioning Christianity as a cult; so I'm glad I was able to defend the faith in the classroom. It would be awesome if you (or anyone coming across this) might mention this in your prayers that God would make intercession for me in times of fear or doubt, as he did today, and that I would be able to proclaim Christ during our religion lecture in a few weeks. God bless!, let me know about the book club-


Andrew C said...

Good choice.

Your review of all the vols in the Scripture and Hermeneutics Series would be appreciated.

Have you read "Beyond the Bible" by I.H Marshall with essays by Vanhoozer & Porter?

TheBlueRaja said...

Thanks, Andrew - I'll think about it. Yeah, I have read "Beyond the Bible", and was actually there where the presentations that formed those essays were given. Are you currently reading it? What do you think?

TheBlueRaja said...


We're NOT still doing book club, but it would be fun to get it going again - I just don't know when I'd fit it in at the moment.

Who was the professor?

Andrew C said...

I thoroughly enjoyed it!

However, I dont know if the contributors provide a successful unambiguous and non-subjective principles for moving text to theology. In short, the method for moving text to theology should have at least these 2 goals, objectifying orthodoxy and dialectical progress.

My 2 cents.

I've just picked up "Hermeneutics at the Crossroads." At first glance, it seems to be an interesting read. Hopefully I will get to read it... interesting

TheBlueRaja said...

If by "objective" you mean that there should be some methodological controls, William Webb would probably be a good representation of what Marshall was arguing for, and he given several suggestions for such controls. You'll have to tell me what you think of "Hermeneutics at the Crossroads" when you're done!

Andrew C said...


Paul Bright and family said...

I liked your struggle and your definition with defining relaxation according to the "entertainment" culture. Your analysis, "to relax from the rigors of Christian discipline" is spot on (quote worthy). Please follow up with your review of this book, as I do not have an unlimited budget to purchase books. Thanks!

kasey said...

Yeah book club again! Book club again! I'll come, I promise. Did I tell you I'm in a Spanish book club? But I'd like to be in an English one too........