More on The Bible and its Readers: Of Christians…

A LifeWay Research Study found that while the majority of churchgoers desire to honor Christ and even profess to meditate on biblical truths, few actually engage in personal Bible reading and the study of Scriptures. Forty percent of those surveyed claim to read their Bibles less than once a month, with 18% claiming rarely or never. Only 19% shared that they read the Bible every day.

That’s pretty awful.  So do something about it.  And if, might I add, you have problems understanding parts, I’d love to help.  Seriously.  So because I want to help, seriously, I’m offering the complete commentary (written by me) on the Bible (in PDF) for only $100.  Prepay here, include your email address, and I will send the commentary.  Readers of it have this to say:

The commentary on the Bible by Jim West, a theologian who is lecturer in Biblical and Reformation Studies at Ming Hua Theological College in Hong Kong and is also Pastor of a Baptist Church in Petros, Tennessee, explains every chapter from Genesis to Revelation to “the person in the pew”: the ordinary member of a church, who, when reading the Bible, encounters a desperately foreign culture and therefore needs some guidance to understand it.

West’s approach is straightforward: he offers the Bible in a translation (American Standard Version) and interrupts the narrative every now and then to explain a couple of verses. His comments are aimed “at English speaking and reading members of the community of faith”: in other words, he makes the ancient texts accessible for believers.

As a pastor, West has an additional task: he needs to present the text in such a way that the faithful can use the Bible as a guideline. As I said, West’s approach is straightforward. The fact that he succeeds is encouraging for everyone who thinks that the study of ancient texts is meaningful.

I am no theologian and cannot judge the theological merits, but I can say that it is a pleasant read. I am currently reading a text I know quite well, Daniel, and West has pointed out many aspects I had not recognized before. The PDFs of West’s Commentary for the Person in the Pew are on my tablet, allowing me to go through the entire Bible when my train is delayed or has been cancelled. Given the quality of Dutch public transport I expect to have renewed my encounter with the Bible within a few months. – Jona Lendering

Become familiar with the text which guides your faith and life.

The Path of Christianity

John Anthony McGuckin, one of the world’s leading scholars of ancient Christianity, has synthesized a lifetime of work to produce the most comprehensive and accessible history of the Christian movement during its first thousand years. The Path of Christianity takes readers on a journey from the period immediately after the composition of the Gospels, through the building of the earliest Christian structures in polity and doctrine, to the dawning of the medieval Christian establishment. McGuckin explores Eastern and Western developments simultaneously, covering grand intellectual movements and local affairs in both epic scope and fine detail.

The Path of Christianity is divided into two parts of twelve chapters each. Part one treats the first millennium of Christianity in linear sequence, from the second to the eleventh centuries. In addition to covering key theologians and conciliar decisions, McGuckin surveys topics like Christian persecution, early monasticism, the global scope of ancient Christianity, and the formation of Christian liturgy. Part two examines key themes and ideas, including biblical interpretation, war and violence, hymnography, the role of women, attitudes to wealth, and early Christian views about slavery and sexuality. McGuckin gives the reader a sense of the real condition of early Christian life, not simply what the literate few had to say.

Written for student and scholar alike, The Path of Christianity is a lively, readable, and masterful account of ancient Christian history, destined to be the standard for years to come.

IVP have sent a review copy which I’m very keen to read, having scanned the chapter titles just now when it arrived.

Part I: The Church’s Pilgrim’s Path
1. The Fertile Second Century
2. Blood in the Arena: The Age of Persecutions and Resistance: Second to Third Centuries
3. Coming of Age: Christianity in the Third Century
4. The Gospel on the Throne: Christians in the Fourth-Century East
5. Reconciling the World: Christian Ascetical and Penitential Imperatives
6. Remaking Society: The Church in the West in the Fourth to Sixth Centuries
7. A Church of the Nations: Ancient Global Christianity
8. The Rise of the Ecumenical Conciliar System in the Fifth to Sixth Centuries
9. The Emergence of Christian Byzantium in the Sixth to Ninth Centuries
10. The Flourishing of Medieval Rome in the Seventh to Tenth Centuries
11. The Formation of Christian Liturgy
12. The Great Parting of Ways: Greek East and Latin West in the Tenth to Eleventh Centuries

Part II: A Winding Road: Select Themes and Ideas
13. The Bible and Its Interpretation in the Early Church
14. The Church and War
15. The Development of Christian Hymnography
16. Ways of Prayer in the Early Church
17. Women in Ancient Christianity
18. Healing and Philanthropy in Early Christianity
19. The Exercise of Authority in the Church: Orders and Offices
20. Christians and Magic
21. The Church and Wealth
22. Church and Slavery in an Age of Oppression
23. Attitudes to Sexuality in the Early Church
24. A Brief Account of Ancient Christian Art

Epilogue
Appendix 1: The Seven Ecumenical Councils: A Brief Guide
Appendix 2: List of the Roman Popes to 1054 and the Patriarchs of Constantinople to 1453
Appendix 3: List of The Roman Emperors to 1453

On The Anniversary of The German Book-Burning of 10 May, 1933

It may be important- nay- it is important to learn that

buecherverbrennungDoch anders als viele Menschen denken, wurden sie nicht von der NSDAP oder einem Ministerium organisiert, sondern von der Deutschen Studentenschaft, die sich, so vermuten Wissenschaftler, damit den Nationalsozialisten andienen wollten.

German students came up with the bright idea to burn all those books.  Remarkable.  One of the most senseless acts of Nazi history wasn’t thought up by the leadership- it was an act of University students…  the very people who ought to know better.

The essay from which that snippet is drawn is very much worth reading it its entirety.

Today With Zwingli: The Zurich Marriage Ordinance of 1525

zwingliAnother important piece of internal regulation, viz., relative to marriage and divorce, inspired and formulated by Zwingli, was passed by the Councils on May 10, 1525.

Briefly, marriages were usually to be public, in churches, and with the consent of parents or guardians. Even though the discovery should soon be made that the parties were unfitted for living together, still they are to live together for a year, and then they may be divorced.

Divorces may be granted for other causes. Adultery is a crime to be severely punished by the authorities. So also seduction and like offences when marriage cannot be arranged. Those who commit adultery hoping thereby to secure a divorce and so be free to contract another marriage, or to live unchastely, were to be excommunicated and for ever banished. By thus claiming for Zurich the adjudication of the matrimonial cases the break with the past was still further emphasised, as formerly all such cases came to the episcopal court in Constance.  (S.M. Jackson)