What is the Bible? To answer this question we must understand the Bible’s origins in the early church. In this book, celebrated church historian Justo González introduces the reader to some important features of the earliest Bibles—for instance, the Bible’s original languages, its division into chapters and verses, and even its physical appearance in its first forms. González also explores the use of the Bible in the early church (such as in worship or in private reading) and the interpretation of the Bible throughout the ensuing centuries, giving readers a holistic sense of the Bible’s emergence as the keystone of Christian life, from its beginnings to present times.
This book surveys and analyzes twenty-seven major collections of wisdom sayings from antiquity, including texts from ancient Egypt, the ancient Near East, ancient Israel and early Judaism, early Christianity, and the Greco-Roman world. Through the diversity of these selections, readers are exposed to wisdom literature from a wide array of historical, cultural, and linguistic settings, which unfolds into a larger understanding of how different ancient peoples articulated a gnomic understanding of life.
Throughout this useful guide, Walter Wilson keeps a constant eye on the relation of the wisdom texts to the worlds from which they emerged—paying close attention to each text’s distinctive thematic profile and how its moral agenda was mapped onto the reader’s social landscape. Where appropriate, he discusses affinities between the different collections and draws conclusions about ancient wisdom literature as a genre.
For further study, each entry includes a short bibliography directing the reader to an up-to-date translation of the collection in question and other relevant secondary texts, making this an ideal starting point for anyone studying wisdom literature of the ancient world.
Of the leading print centres in early modern Europe, Wittenberg was the only one that was not a major centre of trade, politics, or culture. This monograph examines the rise of the Wittenberg printing industry and analyses how it overtook the Empire’s leading print centres. It investigates the workshops of the four leading printers in Wittenberg during Luther’s lifetime: Nickel Schirlentz, Josef Klug, Hans Lufft, and Georg Rhau. Together, these printers conquered the German print world.
In 1500, speculative philosophy lay at the heart of European intellectual life; by 1700, its role was drastically diminished. The Kingdom of Darkness tells the story of this momentous transformation. Dmitri Levitin explores the structural factors behind this change: the emancipation of natural philosophy from metaphysics; theologians’ growing preference for philology over philosophy; and a new conception of the limits of the human mind derived from historical and oriental scholarship, not least concerning China and Japan. In turn, he shows that the ideas of two of Europe’s most famous thinkers, Pierre Bayle and Isaac Newton, were both the products of this transformation and catalysts for its success. Drawing on hundreds of sources in many languages, Levitin traces in unprecedented detail Bayle and Newton’s conceptions of what Thomas Hobbes called The Kingdom of Darkness: a genealogical vision of how philosophy had corrupted the human mind. Both men sought to remedy this corruption, and their ideas helped lay the foundation for the system of knowledge that emerged in the eighteenth century.
It’s available in paperback for a considerably lower price.
Leviathan, a manifestation of one of the oldest monsters in recorded history (3rd millennium BCE), and its sidekick, Behemoth, have been the object of centuries of suppression throughout the millennia. Originally cosmic, terrifying creatures who represented disorder and chaos, they have been converted into the more palatable crocodile and hippo by biblical scholars today.
However, among the earliest Jews (and Muslims) and possibly Christians, these creatures occupied a significant place in creation and redemption history. Before that, they formed part of a backstory that connects the Bible with the wider ancient Near East. When examining the reception history of these fascinating beasts, several questions emerge.
Why are Jewish children today familiar with these creatures, while Christian children know next to nothing about them? Why do many modern biblical scholars follow suit and view them as minor players in the grand scheme of things? Conversely, why has popular culture eagerly embraced them, assimilating the words as symbols for the enormous? More unexpectedly, why have fundamentalist Christians touted them as evidence for the cohabitation of dinosaurs and humans?
See the link above for a general table of contents. The particulars of the subsections are not included there and, may I say, they really should be. For instance, in chapter 9, The Nodal Nuances of Negativity within Christianity, a rather innocuous sounding chapter, subsections include ‘Sexy Beasts’, ‘Origen’, ‘Jerome’, ‘Aquinas’, and a whole slathering of Church Fathers, ‘Luther’, and ‘Barth’!
Each chapter is like that; i.e., festooned with fascinating and interesting bits and pieces of material from the span of history related to how the Bible’s famous beasts have been seen, used, and understood. And since the full table of contents isn’t available at the publisher’s website, I include it below for your reference:
Doesn’t that look fantastic? It is fantastic! It is an amazing volume and the story it tells of the ways in which Behemoth and Leviathan, two beasts from the Bible about which, honestly, we are always guessing the identity of, is brilliantly done. Were they hippos and alligators? Crocodiles and dragons? Elephants and some giant sea monster? We simply do not know. And that is why they have been such fertile ground for art and theology and speculations in their hundreds.
The book is remarkably well argued. Sneed clearly and obviously loves, deeply, the subject matter of this volume because he goes to great lengths to provide readers with a complete ‘map’ of these monsters’ travels through theology and popular culture and biblical studies. His grasp of the relevant material is astonishing. It’s difficult to find a biblical scholar familiar with Barth just as much as it’s difficult to find a systematic theologian familiar with the Hebrew text of Job.
Sneed reads books and watches movies and thinks deeply and critically about the things he sees. And then he writes about his findings and the readers of this volume are the beneficiaries of a massive amount of work.
What a wonderful book. What a brilliant presentation. And what a gift to all of those who want to know as much as there can possibly be known about the subject at hand.
Thank you, Mark. And thank you, DeGruyter, for bringing this book to the light of day. We are indebted to you both for a genuine treasure.
Read this work. You will be delighted.
Dr Jim West has undertaken the phenomenal task of writing a commentary on every book of the Bible! And what strikes this reader most forcefully is its faithfulness to what it says on the tin: West’s efforts have been expended “for the person in the pew”.
In other words, one should not expect the usual exhaustive analysis of syntax, interpretive options, history of scholarship and such like. These commentaries are written so that the reader needs no theological education, and West presupposes no ability to read Greek or Hebrew. Anyone can read and understand these.
The result is like going through the biblical texts, with a scholarly pastor, who pauses to make a number of bite-sized observations on the way. And whatever one thinks of those annotations, anyone can follow and digest them. West writes with a heart for the church, and his unique character and love for scripture are obvious in these pages.
Dr. Chris Tilling
New Testament Tutor,
St Mellitus College & St Paul’s Theological Centre
The PDF’s of the entire series are available. You can acquire them from yours truly for a paltry $75 by clicking my PayPal Link. And be sure to include your email address so they can be sent to you.
The publisher writes
The unapologetic honesty your reviews exude are a breath of fresh air compared to some of the other[s]. I would much rather have an honest 1 star review than a sugar-coated 5 star re-wording of the chapters listed as a “review”.
I’ve reviewed books for a number of publishers and there are some out there that, if you’re honest about one of their volumes (in not liking it), they will never allow you to review another.
What that means, of course, is that they aren’t really looking for reviews, they’re looking for publicity and nothing else.
I have always found the publishers listed in the sidebar (under ‘Publishers’) to be the honest sort who are more interested in accuracy than ‘yes-men’. Some other publishers, not so much.
Bruno J. Clifton examines Israel’s family dynamics and identity politics in the dramatic narratives of Judges in an interdisciplinary study that brings socio-anthropological research into dialogue with the history and culture of ancient Israel. This monograph discusses the social experiences and interactions through which people in Israel might have viewed their place in the world. Institutions such as hospitality, marriage and community leadership are examined and the ethnicity, culture, social landscape, family life, and literature of ancient Israel are explored with a view to determining what impact the understanding of identity has on the interpretation of the stories in the Book of Judges.
Why is Jael nailing the head of Sisera to the ground on the cover of a book dealing with families in the Book of Judges? That was the first question I had when I saw this volume. A hint of an answer is provided early on in the book, and suddenly the choice of cover art makes much more sense than it does at first blush:
In the telling of Judg 4, its hearers hope that Jael conquers Sisera, not to save Israel but rather in protection of her household (p.2).
The book before us is a book about families.
Simply stated, this volume’s purpose is to think about the meaning of some of the stories related in the book of Judges. It is an approach that considers these tales as culturally significant literature and as such, assumes that they address its society’s issues and reflect its hopes and desires, fears and dreams. This requires understanding the context and probable socio-cultural milieux from which the stories arose and in which they circulated. It also demands a method or point of departure to navigate the values and social expectations that the stories express and to discern the likely issues that they address. Cultural artefacts such as the Bible belong to and are expressive of particular groups who, by means of their cultural heritage, wish to distinguish and celebrate themselves in contrast to other groups with different cultures (cf. Assmann 1995). Hence, literature that contributes to and is regarded as indicative of a culture speaks of how a community sees itself and wishes to present itself to the world (Cornell 2000, 44). In other words, such literature speaks of identity and, in order to achieve its canonical place among a community’s cultural classics, the figures depicted within the literature should reflect this identity. In this way, to investigate identity is to open a window onto the literature’s meaning and better appreciate its influence in the societies that claim it as their own.
To be sure, that’s a rather extensive quote, but I think it’s necessary. Potential readers should be fully informed concerning what they are thinking about reading. And read it they should. This is one of the most engaging of monograph’s I’ve read in a long time. The way in which the author explains and clarifies is a display of learning that’s a delight to encounter.
The front matter of the volume is available at the link above, as are the table of contents and other constituent parts. The whole volume is incredible, but the exposition of the story of Gibeah and the Levite in chapter 7 is the best exegesis I’ve read since Jack Sasson’s commentary on Judges. He not only steers readers to a deeper understanding of the text, he takes to task current scholarship on the text. Concluding his exposition of Judges 19, C. writes
While the Levite benefits from his ḥōtēn’s recognition of their intimacy (vv3-8), he does not show the same familial devotion to his pîlegeš, ending up pushing her across the house’s threshold and into the hands of abusive strangers (v25). Weighing this contrast between ḥōtēn and ḥātān, it is not the “motif of the one helpful man” (Niditch 2008, 192) that provides the contrasting foil for the horror of Gibeah, but the respect for family shown by the father of a questionably wedded woman (p. 183).
It is a curiosity that the Hebrew text is transliterated rather than simply presented in Hebrew font. It always seems odd to me when that happens. There really is no reason for it, since the transliteration really does non Hebrew readers any good, and Hebrew readers don’t need it. In olden days transliteration was done to save printing costs. But with today’s computer driven printing it just seems to be something that should go the way of the car without seatbelts.
The value of the volume is not lessened because the Hebrew font is missing. This is one of the best books you’ll pick up in 2022. Students of the Hebrew Bible should each and every one read it.
Teil der Entstehung des frühen Christentums ist die Entwicklung einer ›christlichen‹ Sprache, die dieses beschreibt und bezeichnet. Der Glaube war in diesem Prozess für Paulus das entscheidende Kriterium von Zugehörigkeit und Abgrenzung. Bemerkenswerterweise spricht Paulus über die Nichtgläubigen – also diejenigen, die nicht dazu gehören – völlig ohne Polemik und die Bezeichnung begegnet auch in keinem Lasterkatalog.
Die Untersuchung der Bezeichnung „die Nichtgläubigen“ hat gezeigt, dass Paulus diese weniger dazu gebraucht, eine bestimmte Gruppe als nicht oder ungläubig zu beschreiben, oder zu diskutieren, warum die Nichtgläubigen nicht glauben. Vielmehr hat die Bezeichnung eine bestimmte paränetische und identitätsstiftende Funktion: Sie dient der Abgrenzung gegenüber der nichtgläubigen Vergangenheit der Glaubenden, sie dient der Abgrenzung gegenüber der heidnischen Welt und sie dient der (eschatologischen) Vergewisserung der Glaubenden.
A copy for review is here. I’ll be reading it eagerly soon.
This new volume looks fascinating.
1939 wurde in Eisenach das sogenannte ‚Entjudungsinstitut‘ gegründet. In kirchlicher Trägerschaft suchte es die jüdischen Einflüsse auf Theologie und Kirche zu “erforschen” und zu tilgen. Das Institut zeigt ein perfides kirchliches Andienen an die nationalsozialistische Rassenpolitik im pseudowissenschaftlichen Gewand und markiert dabei eines der dunkelsten Kapitel, das auf kirchliche Initiative die deutsche evangelisch verantwortete theologische Wissenschaft in der NS-Zeit geschrieben hat. Auf der Basis vorliegender Forschungsergebnisse wendet sich der vorliegende Band erstmals in interdisziplinärer Weise dem ‚Entjudungsinstitut‘ zu, kontextualisiert die völkische und antisemitische Ideologie und Theologie der Einrichtung, vergleicht sie mit ähnlichen pseudowissenschaftlichen „Instituten“ und fragt nach dessen Wirkung und Auswirkung in Ost- und Westdeutschland.
Looking forward to reviewing the copy that arrived today.
Dieser Band versammelt acht Beiträge eines Studientages, der im Vorfeld des 100. Todestages Abraham Kuypers (1837-1920) in Göttingen stattfand. In Auseinandersetzungen mit dem „Modernismus” beanspruchte Kuyper, den Calvinismus als ein der Freiheit besonders verpflichtetes Format des christlichen Glaubens zu reformulieren, das eine enorme Kraft zur Weltgestaltung freisetzt.
Vier deutsche Autor:innen, drei Autor:innen aus den Niederlanden und eine Autorin aus der Schweiz mit profanhistorischen, kirchengeschichtlichen und systematisch-theologischen Fokussierungen gehen der gemeinsamen Frage nach, ob ein neuer Blick auf diese niederländische Jahrhundertgestalt unabgegoltene Einsichten und überraschende Perspektiven für die gegenwärtigen Herausforderungen in Kirche, Theologie und Gesellschaft eröffnen kann. Ausgewiesene Kuyper-Kenner:innen kommen ins Gespräch mit dezidierten Kritiker:innen. Dieser Band bietet in seiner vielstimmigen Beschäftigung mit Kuyper neue Anstöße und Anregungen.
A review copy has arrived.
This handbook presents almost thirty expert written chapters on the Scottish Reformation from the late 1520s to 1638. The book is organized in ten major themes: external and internal pressures for change; breakthrough and revolution; theological and philosophical formulations; varieties of dissemination; humanism and higher education; legal systems and moral order; appropriations in literary and popular cultures; outsiders; evolution of new national identity; and historiographical traditions and prospective developments. While there are introductory elements, the chapters both recall previous studies and offer new research. Concerns of the book are to recall Reformation core religious dimensions and to highlight the Scottish contribution to the rich tapestry of the Reformation in Europe.
Contributors: Alexander Broadie, Flynn Cratty, Jane E.A. Dawson, Timothy Duguid, Elizabeth Ewan, Paul R. Goatman, Michael F. Graham, Thomas Green, Crawford Gribben, W. Ian P. Hazlett, Ernest R. Holloway III, John McCallum, Alan R. MacDonald, Alasdair A. MacDonald, Jamie McDougall, David Manning, David G. Mullan, Gordon D. Raeburn, Andrew Spicer, Bryan D. Spinks, Scott R. Spurlock, Laura A.M. Stewart, Mark S. Sweetnam, Kristen Post Walton, David G. Whitla, Jack C. Whytock, Arthur H. Williamson.
A Hebrew Reader for the Psalms constitutes a carefully curated collection of forty Hebrew psalms, organized by genre and, within each genre, by difficulty. The psalms are presented in a unique and innovative format designed to help readers understand not only the meaning of the individual words but also how these words fit together to create clauses and sentences.
Like A Proverb a Day in Biblical Hebrew, this book is designed to be enjoyed by people of varying levels of Hebrew ability—ranging from those who have studied the language for a year to those who have a PhD in Hebrew Bible. The book functions as a language-learning tool and a devotional, and is therefore a resource that readers will want to use repeatedly (rather than simply reading through it once). The book’s strengths include the timeless draw of its contents, its accessibility, its simplicity of use, its minimalist aesthetic design, and its affordability.
A copy for review has come via UPS. More anon.
I guess for those of you for whom my simply saying ‘do it’ is insufficient, here are other people saying DO IT!
Why study biblical languages? The Rewards of Learning Greek and Hebrew: Discovering the Richness of the Bible in Its Original Languages is written to convince you that it’s worth it! Professors Catherine L. McDowell and Philip H. Towner have spent years opening the eyes of students to the riches that await those who study Hebrew and Greek, and they invite you to listen in. This book is designed for people who have never studied the biblical languages—everything is in English or English script, and everything is clearly explained.
The Rewards of Learning Greek and Hebrew contains a number of case studies—some from the Hebrew Bible and some from the New Testament—that demonstrate the kind of accuracy and insight that await those who study the biblical languages. Each case study is accompanied by a testimonial from a student whose understanding of the Bible has been enriched by studying Greek or Hebrew.
With encouragements from Christian scholars and pastors sprinkled throughout, The Rewards of Learning Greek and Hebrew gives you a taste of what awaits the student of biblical languages and encourages you to take the plunge.
See, my reason is much more compact.
Anyway, a review copy has arrived today. More anon.
Im Januar 2019 jährte sich zum 500. Mal der Beginn der Zürcher Reformation und damit der Beginn des weltweiten reformierten Protestantismus als Konfessionskultur und als kulturprägende Kraft. Am Jubiläumskongress im Februar trafen sich die führenden Reformationsgeschichtlerinnen und Reformationsgeschichtler aus aller Welt in Zürich. Die Beiträge präsentieren und bündeln den aktuellen Forschungsstand zur Zürcher Reformation und eröffnen neue Perspektiven in historischer, wirkungsgeschichtlicher und theologischer Hinsicht. Das Hauptaugenmerk der Forschenden liegt dabei auf der Rolle der Zürcher Reformation in der europäischen Reformationsbewegung.
When we all gathered in Zurich for this international Conference I don’t think any of us knew how momentous it would be. We certainly didn’t know that our dear friend and colleague W.P. Stephens would depart this life just a few months later. Nor did we know that all of us would leave intellectually enriched beyond measure.
The papers were first made available to the public a few months after the meeting in a series of YouTube videos many of which you can see here. Not every session was recorded, and not every session held has appeared in the print Conference volume. For that to have happened, there would have needed to be 2 or 3 large volumes. But a great many lectures are available by video or print for those who wish to see them.
The present volume is available at a remarkably low price (for the quality of the work) in print or freely, thanks to the good graces of the Institute, in PDF.
I am proud to have attended the conference, presented a paper there, and had more than my fair share of stimulating conversations with many many friends. And I’m also proud to recommend this book. Here’s why:
First, it is expertly edited by Ariane Albisser and Peter Opitz. I cannot imagine the amount of work they devoted to corralling and encouraging all of the contributors and then carefully working through the Himalaya of material in order to present it as a coherent, well structured whole.
Second, because the selection of essays is so fairly representative of all of those presented. That task in itself is herculean.
And third, because the essays themselves are so very stimulating and forward thinking. These aren’t dry as dust glances into the past. Rather, they are learned, wise, and insight-laced academic studies which provide readers with that one thing so hard to find in these troubled times: understanding. The essayists understand their subject and they lead their readers to understanding as well.
There are papers here that were presented in English and there are papers here that were presented in German. Those who can only use English will find more than enough to keep their minds occupied for many years to come; and the same is true of those who can only use German (though those folk are far fewer in number than the English only tribe).
The aim of the conference, and the aim of the volume at hand, is gracefully stated by the editors in their introduction:
Ziel des Zürcher Kongresses vom 6. bis 8. Februar 2019 war es, die gegenwärtige internationale Forschung zu bündeln und zu präsentieren. Dabei sollte die Zürcher Reformation aber nicht isoliert betrachtet, sondern auch ihre Rolle im Rahmen der europäischen Reformationsbewegungen in den Blick genommen werden.
Naturally attending such a gathering means having to choose from the several parallel sessions which also means not being able to attend all of them. Picking and choosing is also most likely how readers of this work will proceed. Personally, the following lectures were, to me, extremely valuable. Others were noteworthy. And all those I attended were worthwhile. You, dear reader, will have your own sorts of listings as well.
- From «Zwinglian» to «Swiss» Reformation. What’s in a name?, by Emidio Campi
- Auf dem Weg zum Reformator, von Urs B. Leu
- Zwingli and the Zurich Catechetical Tradition, by Daniël Timmerman
- Comparing Zwingli’s and Calvin’s Calling as Prophets, by Jon Balserak
- «Apostel Helvetiens», von Luca Baschera
- Bullinger’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians and the Doctrine of the Lord’s Supper, by Joe Mock
- Feier der Eucharistie, von Peter Opitz
- Friending Zwingli: The Formation of the Swiss/South German Correspondence Network, by Amy Nelson Burnett
- Die Wechselbeziehungen Zürich-Niederlande 1591–1619, von Herman J. Selderhuis
- «A Heroic Tragedy»: Huldrych Zwingli in the Hands of Anglo-American Writers of the Nineteenth Century, by Bruce Gordon
Reading through these essays brings back such wonderful memories of the finest conference I have yet attended; filled to the brim with excellence. And they were presented by a veritable who’s who of Reformation scholars. I think it’s fair to say that anyone (living) who was anyone in the field was at that meeting.
As a sample, this small tidbit from Bruce Gordon:
Let us leave the last words to the father of American church history, the Swiss Philip Schaff, who attended the festival when the Zwingli monument was unveiled in 1885 – which he comments was made by a Catholic in Vienna. The ambiguity among Protestants about Zwingli as hero or troubled figure for the legacy of the Reformation finds expression in Schaff’s judgement: «In him the reformer, the statesman and the patriot are one. He appealed to the examples of Joshua and Gideon but forgot the difference between the Old and New dispensation.»
Obtain a copy of this book. Sit in on lectures that will change your perceptions of so many issues related to the history of the Swiss Reformation.
NB– It would be unusual to dedicate a book review to someone, but I wish to dedicate this review to my friend and colleague W.P. Stephens. It was in Zurich in 2019 at this very meeting that Peter, Joe Mock, and myself finalized plans to complete Peter’s ‘The Theology of Heinrich Bullinger‘ which he had largely written but which remained unfinished and unedited, in the event of his untimely passing. Joe and I were honored to do it. And we were equally honored to join Peter for dinner with a few others one night. Peter, you are well remembered and highly honored and esteemed, even now. And will be always by those privileged to know you.
Aw, you had me at Demons!
The achievements of Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Gerolamo Savoldo were, even during a period of unprecedented artistry, out of the ordinary. Born in Brescia around 1480, he radically reimagined Christian subjects. His surviving oeuvre of roughly fifty paintings—from the intensely poetic Tobias and the Angel to sober self-portraits—represents some of the most profound work of the period. In Painting with Demons, a beautifully illustrated book and the first in English devoted to the painter, Michael Fried brings his celebrated skills of looking and thinking to bear on Savoldo’s art, providing a stunning contribution to our understanding both of the early modern European imagination and of the achievement of this underappreciated artist.
A review copy arrived today and that review will appear in the Journal of Global History in due course. Stay tuned.
In addition to diaries and correspondence, a scholar’s private library provides valuable clues about his interests and his spiritual universe as well as revealing the texts which influenced him. Hence, investigating someone’s private library is just as crucial in tracing his spiritual life and intellectual conflicts, as is the scrutiny of other personal documents. – Urs Leu
You show me your library, and I’ll show you who you are. Your library is a window into your soul.
Human history is the history of migration. Never before, however, have the numbers of people on the move been so large nor the movement as global as it is today. How should Christians respond biblically, theologically, and missiologically to the myriad of daunting challenges triggered by this new worldwide reality? This volume brings together significant scholars from a variety of fields to offer fresh insights into how to engage migration. What makes this book especially unique is that the authors come from across Christian traditions, and from different backgrounds and experiences–each of whom makes an important contribution to current debates. How has the Christian church responded to migration in the past? How might the Bible orient our thinking? What new insights about God and faith surface with migration, and what new demands are placed now upon God’s people in a world in so much need? Global Migration and Christian Faith points in the right direction to grapple with those questions and move forward in constructive ways.
You can check out the table of contents below. It looks fantastic. Especially interesting to me is Jennifer Powell McNutt’s contribution on the Bible for Refugees in Calvin’s Geneva.
The Jerome Biblical Commentary (in its first two incarnations) is the BEST single volume commentary on the whole bible in existence.
I’m very excited about this new one. And expect it to live up to the lofty standards of its predecessors.
I’ve ordered myself a copy as an early birthday gift. Yay me.