Books, Books and more Books
Many hundreds of years ago the nameless editor, of the nameless Preacher's reflections, opined, "Of making many books there is no end ..." (Ecclesiastes 12.12b). This is obviously a true proverb. Hundreds of thousands of books are published every year some outstanding and some they could have saved the trees.
It seems customary among bloggers to periodically list the books they have recently read or are currently reading. I suppose the motive behind this is to suggest some good books that may bless others and with that motive in mind I join this blogging tradition. Here a few books that I have read in the recent past.
Edwin P. Hoyt, Angels of Death: Goering's Luftwaffe (Forge 1994). This is a history of the Luftwaffe as it overlaps with the life Hermann Goering the architect of Hitler's Air Force. This is a highly readable account of Goering rise and fall. Hoyt makes the interesting claim that Goering while a rabid supporter of Hitler did not buy into the racist ideology of Nazism.
Monford Harris, Exodus and Exile: The Structure of the Jewish Holidays (Fortress 1992). Harris is a Jewish scholar who taught in Chicago. This is a very insightful work on the theology and meaning for Jewish life of the major holy days. He makes an observation that I had not thought of before but is quite significant: the Pilgrimage festivals all celebrate the Exodus but not one holiday celebrates the conquering of the Land.
Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs (Cistercian Publications) This is a compilation of Bernard's famous sermons on the Song of Songs. I love this book. I have read pits and pieces of Bernard's sermons but these are cutting "edge." Not only does Bernard have tremendous insight into love but he also has a very good sermon on the "Two Operations of the Holy Spirit."
Nicolaus Copernicus, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, edited by Stephen Hawking (Running Press 2002). I am about half way through this classic that set off the great debate about the structure of the Solar System (indeed the universe itself). This is anything but an easy read, however, the book is very interesting. Dust off all of those long forgotten theorems of Geometry and Trig. or do like me and simply skim that part, :)
Barbara Ellen Bowe, A Church in Crisis: Ecclesiology and Paraenesis in Clement of Rome (Fortress 1988). This book is part of the Harvard Dissertations in Religion series. I picked it up on sale for 3 bucks and it is worth every penny. This is a full length Ph.D dissertation on the rhetoric, structure and argument of 1 Clement (one of the earliest Christian writings outside the New Testament ... it is a First Century document). I have seen Bowe's book in footnotes before but now I am reading it for myself. She practically overturns older scholarship that asserted 1 Clement depicted a power grab by the Roman church over other churches and that it is concerned primarily about structural ecclesiology. Rather she argues that Clement is interested in unity through solidarity and an exhortation to a communal ethics of brotherhood. It is a very stimulating work.
Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology (Westminster 2001). Having recently read David deSilva's Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity (IVP 2000) I have come to see an entire dimension to biblical study that I had not availed myself too. Malina is the scholar to read when it comes to the social and cultural context of the NT. Issues of honor and shame are on almost ever page of the NT but simply go unrecognized because these thought categories are alien to modern western readers. This is a very helpful book as is deSilva's.
Finally, I started to reread C. S. Lewis classic Till We Have Faces. This is my all time favorite of Lewis' works. It is rich and multidimensional. It was written near the end of his life and it reflects much more nuanced patterns of thought than some of his earlier work (which I also love btw). It is unfortunate that this book is not a well known among Evangelicals who seem to love parts of Lewis' legacy.