By William Dever.
Category Archives: Books
This is the twenty-eighth edition of the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28). NA28 is the standard scholarly edition of the Greek New Testament used by scholars, Bible translators, professors, students, and pastors worldwide. Now NA28 has been revised and improved:
- Critical apparatus revised and easier to use
- Papyrii 117-127 included for the first time
- In-depth revision of the Catholic Epistles, with more than 30 changes to the upper text
- Scripture references systematically reviewed for accuracy
- The NA28 with NRSV/REB Greek-English New Testament includes the 28th edition of the Nestle Aland Novum Testamentum Graece, the New Revised Standard Version, and the Revised English Bible.
Naturally, given that each of these editions of the Bible have been around for years now and been reviewed and available for examination by students, scholars, and exegetes there’s no need at all to reinvent the wheel and review them all individually. The NRSV is an exceptionally well constructed edition of the English Bible. The 28th edition of Nestle-Aland is the standard scholarly text for a reason. And the Revised English Bible is, as I have said in several different ways at several different times, simply the best, most accurate, most judicious, and most exciting translation of the Bible in English yet produced.
It is with the latter point in mind that the present volume under discussion deserves attention: for it is the first edition to include the REB on facing pages with the Greek text of the New Testament. The Greek text is printed on every other page and on the facing page two columns consisting of the NRSV in regular print and the REB in italic print are made available.
The immediately obvious benefit of an edition of the Greek text like this is that while reading the Greek text, two superb editions of the English can be consulted immediately, without needing multiple volumes open on one’s desk. Likewise, if the English text is being studied then access to the Greek text is immediate and simple.
Editions of the Bible which print the original languages (Hebrew and Greek) on pages facing an English version are superior to interlinears as well. The reader has to know the original language in order to locate words and phrases in verses that are consulted whereas with an interlinear the reader can pretend knowledge which he or she in fact does not possess.
One of the greatest frauds presently perpetrated against students and church folk is the lecturer or preacher pretending knowledge of the Biblical languages (which they actually do not possess). This is normally done either by a fraudulent reference to one of the meanings provided by ‘Strong’s Concordance’, a terribly outdated and essentially useless tool beloved of the linguistically illiterate; or by means of an interlinear. With that ‘tool’ in hand, even the most inept pseudo-scholar can appear learned. However, such dishonesty usually becomes quite apparent as soon as the lecturer or preacher attempts to pronounce a Hebrew or Greek word and bungles it so miserably that anyone with as much as an elementary knowledge of the language catches the nonsense immediately.
In sum, then, the new NA28 with NRSV and REB is a superb resource for students of the Bible and is so much better than any interlinear that one may be tempted to acquire that such an acquisition (of said interlinear) would be foolhardy.
Many years ago a famed Biblical Scholar told his students to go and sell whatever they needed to sell in order to buy a Septuagint. I would modify that a bit and urge you to go and sell whatever you need to sell in order to buy this edition of the Greek New Testament. Mine goes with me everywhere. I can’t leave home without it.
It’s available now in English and German, with Italian coming soon.
The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media is a convenient and authoritative reference tool, introducing specific terms and concepts helpful to the study of the Bible and related literature in ancient communications culture. Since the early 1980s, biblical scholars have begun to explore the potentials of interdisciplinary theories of oral tradition, oral performance, personal and collective memory, ancient literacy and scribality, visual culture and ritual. Over time these theories have been combined with considerations of critical and exegetical problems in the study of the Bible, the history of Israel, Christian origins, and rabbinics. The Dictionary of the Bible and Ancient Media responds to the rapid growth of the field by providing a source of reference that offers clear definitions, and in-depth discussions of relevant terms and concepts, and the relationships between them.
A review copy has arrived. It looks to be a quite interesting volume. More anon.
V&R published this volume just last year, but it seems particularly relevant these days. The link provides a flipbook showing the table of contents and other front matter.
The question of the justice or righteousness of God has tormented (or at least troubled) believers since at least as long ago as the period of the composition of Job (and doubtless much earlier).
Philosophical attempts to answer the question are set alongside theological attempts in this learned volume and readers are provided with all the major attempts to untie this Gordian Knot, and left free to choose for themselves which is most satisfying.
Our author sets forth his aim thusly-
Ich versuche das alte Problem auf der Basis biblischer Zeugnisse neu zu bestimmen, so dass die theologische Perspektive nicht als eine Art „Krisenmanagement“ erscheint, sondern als eigenständiger Zugang sichtbar wird.
Insightfully he remarks
Nicht unser Wissen ist hier gefragt, sondern unsere Hoffnung.
And that’s certainly true. Those who approach this issue aren’t really looking for answers to their questions, they are looking for hope, not knowledge. The achievement of this quest follows a most sensible outline (on which, once more, see the link above and visit the table of contents).
The journey Link takes us on is one of thoughtful discovery and profound reflection as we ascend ever further, in concentric circles, visiting with philosophers and theologians along the way, towards the apex of the problem. Towards the summit we read
Noch erfahren wir die Wirklichkeit des Bösen am eigenen Leibe, noch gibt es das „ängstliche Seufzen der Kreatur“ (Röm 8,19). Noch haben wir keine Antwort auf die Frage, warum das alles so sein muss. Auch die Kirche ist noch nicht an ihrem Ziel, sondern unterwegs. Sie kann den Grund ihrer Gewissheit nicht als Tatsache aufweisen. Sie „hat“ ihn nur in der Präsenz des Zeichens: in der Auferweckung des Gekreuzigten und in der Ausgießung des Geistes. Darum ist sie an den historischen Ort dieses Zeichens, die „Umgebung von Golgatha“ (Barth), gewiesen und blickt von dort aus in die Zukunft. Das aber tut sie schon heute in der Gewissheit, dass ihre Situation sich tatsächlich gewandelt hat gemäß dem Wort des Apostels Paulus: „Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen, der Tag aber nahe herbeigekommen“ (Röm 13,12).
Perhaps that’s the solution to be seen from the peak of this theological Himalaya: the night is passing, and day is dawning. This volume pushes the mists of misprision aside and exposes the heart and soul of an ever abiding theological dilemma.
Link may not solve the problem, but he helps us towards it more than any of his predecessors, and that’s an amazing accomplishment itself. Here we have a book worth reading several times. And that’s my current plan. I’m going to read it again. I invite you to join me.
A new volume on Luther by the superbly brilliant Herman Selderhuis has just been published. Martin Luther: A Spiritual Biography.
This biography by respected Reformation scholar Herman Selderhuis captures Luther in his original context and follows him on his spiritual journey, from childhood through the Reformation to his influential later years. Combining Luther’s own words with engaging narrative designed to draw the reader into Luther’s world, this spiritual biography brings to life the complex and dynamic personality that forever changed the history of the church.
The link above includes the table of contents and a few endorsements, as well as a link to some of the content. Take a look. Selderhuis is a very good, very careful, very fair, and very insightful researcher. This will be (is) a very good volume.
Philipp Melanchthon (1497–1560) had been a colleague and close collaborator of Martin Luther’s in Wittenberg for 28 years. 100 selected letters in chronological order illuminate important events from his life. Most of them now appear in German translation for the first time. Melanchthon’s manifold scientific interests, his reformatory and pedagogical work express themselves in those letters, as especially private aspects such as friendships, emotions, hopes and dreams do, too. This allows deep insight into everyday life during the Reformation in Germany and direct access to his life.
Keen to read this and appreciative of the publisher for providing a copy to review. More anon.
Friedrich Schleiermacher’s work as a theologian and Plato scholar marked the start of a new epoch: as a system-forming philosopher, he claimed independent validity, and as church politician, educational policy-maker, and academic theorist, he was one of the most important figures during the Prussian reforms, whose contributions to pedagogy remain influential to this day.
This volume provides a clear-sighted overview of the various stages in Schleiermacher’s life (1768–1834), with each contribution portraying his fields of work and their contexts, placing his literary work and conceptions in the framework of the respective contemporary debates. Important stages in Schleiermacher reception and impact history are likewise considered.
The authors’ diverse approaches to interpreting and understanding his output mean that the Guide to Schleiermacher offers concentrated insight into the consensus on and controversies in current Schleiermacher research.Survey of contents
Martin Ohst: Sinn und Absicht des Unternehmens, Hinweise zur Benutzung, Textausgaben, Standardliteratur/Hilfsmittel – Andreas Arndt: Der Briefwechsel
Georg Eckert: Preußen zu Schleiermachers Lebzeiten – Andreas Arndt: Schleiermacher in der nachkantischen Philosophie – Jan Rohls: Literatur, Bildende Kunst und Musik
C. Lebensstationen – Werke – Entwürfe
I. Jugend- und Wanderjahre (1768–1796)
Ulrich Barth: Lebens- und Wirkungskreise – Peter Grove: Werke: Jugendmanuskripte, erste Predigten
II. Berliner Charité-Prediger (1796–1802)
Albrecht Beutel: Lebens- und Wirkungskreise – Bernd Auerochs: Manuskripte – Athenaeum – Geselliges Betragen – Vertraute Briefe – Joachim Ringleben: Über die Religion. Reden an die Gebildeten unter ihren Verächtern – Christian Albrecht: Monologen – Hans-Martin Kirn: Briefe bei Gelegenheit
III. Hofprediger in Stolp (1802–1804)
Simon Gerber: Lebens- und Wirkungskreise – Matthias Heesch: Grundlinien einer Kritik der bisherigen Sittenlehre – Albrecht Geck: Unvorgreifliche Gutachten – Lutz Käppel: Schleiermachers Platon-Übersetzungen
IV. Halle und Zeit der Unsicherheit (1804–1809)
Hermann Patsch: Lebens- und Wirkungskreise – Helmut Merkel: Ueber den sogenannten ersten Brief des Paulos an den Timotheos – Folkart Wittekind: Die Weihnachtsfeier. Ein Gespräch (1805/06)
V. Berlin (1809–1834)
1. Lebens- und Wirkungskreise
Simon Gerber: Familien- und Freundeskreis, Geselligkeit – Andreas Reich: Schleiermacher als Pfarrer – Albrecht Geck: Schleiermacher als Kirchenpolitiker – Dirk Schmid: Schleiermacher als Universitätstheoretiker und Hochschullehrer (inklusive Übersicht über seine gesamte Vorlesungstätigkeit) – Martin Rössler: Schleiermacher als Akademiemitglied und Wissenschaftsorganisator – Matthias Wolfes: Schleiermacher als Politiker
2. Eilert Herms: Systemkonzeption
3. Philosophische Werke
Andreas Arndt: Dialektik – Matthias Heesch: Philosophische Ethik – Lutz Käppel: Geschichte der Philosophie – Kirsten Huxel: Psychologie – Walter Jaeschke: Staatslehre – Inken Mädler: Ästhetik – Dietz Lange: Hermeneutik – Ursula Frost: Pädagogik
Ulrich Barth: Theorie der Theologie – Hermann Patsch: Schleiermachers Berliner Exegetik – Martin Ohst: Kirchengeschichte – Simon Gerber: Kirchliche Statistik – Claus-Dieter Osthövener: Der christliche Glaube – Dogmatik I: Einleitung – Dogmatik II: Materiale Entfaltung – Matthias Heesch: Die Christliche Sitte – Wilhelm Gräb: Praktische Theologie – Reiner Preul: Predigten
D. Rezeption und Kritik
Martin Ohst: Bei Lebzeiten – Friedemann Voigt: Die Schleiermacher-Rezeption 1834–1889 – Friedemann Voigt: Die Schleiermacher-Rezeption 1890–1923 – Hermann Fischer †: Rezeption und Kritik (1918–1960) – Hermann Fischer †: Rezeption und Kritik (1960 ff.)
How relevant is Martin Luther for today’s Practical Theology? Since the so-called empirical turn in the early 1970s, Practical Theology rarely picked up historical issues – and if it did so, most likely with regard to sermon and pastoral care. In the light of the Reformation Jubilee, the idea to search for impulses of Martin Luther for current practical-theological discourses was fairly obvious.
This book comprises articles, which trace back to two interdisciplinary research conferences, that took place in the Leucorea in Lutherstadt Wittenberg in 2015 and 2016 and were sponsored by the WGTh (Academic Society of Theology), the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany) and the Evangelical-Lutheran Churches of Central Germany and Saxony. The first conference dealt with essential questions such as whether it’s possible and meaningful at all to inquire for practical-theological impulses of Martin Luther for the present, although Practical Theology as an academic discipline was only established in the early 19th century by Friedrich Schleiermacher.
The goodly publisher has provided a review copy.
The aim of the volume is to illustrate the usefulness of Luther for modern practical theology. Nine segments make up the volume, with essays by leading theologians and other scholars for each. These nine segments are
- Martin Luther as Practical Theologian
- Hymnology and Music
- Care of Souls
- Pastoral Theology
These major divisions offer readers important insights into Luther’s thought in modern application. Luther is the fountainhead from which streams an approach to worship, preaching, music, edification, catechesis, and all the rest. Thirty four essays in all.
Each of the contributions provide voluminous material from Luther and draws the connection between Luther’s day and ours. In sum, Luther is still relevant as a source for modern practice on a substantial theological foundation.
This doesn’t mean that Luther is beyond criticism. When necessary, our essayists not only show the ongoing contribution of Luther’s views but critique him when he falls short.
The greatest contribution the volume makes, though, is the dialogue created when the voices of Luther, theologians, church historians, and pastors are all heard on equal footing. Luther’s voice isn’t the most important- it is one of many- and is understood as such. Luther here is not exalted- he is approached as a real dialogue partner. The ensuing discussion is one of the most engaging collection of theologically oriented essays about matters of practical theology produced in many a year.
Pastors especially and those responsible for the life of the community of faith will learn much from this collection. It is superb.
Overwhelmingly, Martin Luther has been treated as the generator of ideas concerning the relationship between God and humankind. The Personal Luther deliberately departs from that church-historiographic tradition. Luther was a voluble and irrepressible divine. Even though he had multiple ancillary interests, such as singing, playing the lute, appreciating the complexities of nature, and observing his children, his preoccupation was, as he quickly saw it, bringing the Word of God to the people.
This book is not about Luther’s theology except insofar as any ideational construct is itself an expression of the thinker who frames it. Luther frequently couched his affective utterances within a theological framework. Nor is it a biography; it does not portray a whole life. Rather, it concentrates on several heretofore neglected aspects of the Reformer’s existence and personality.
The subjects that appear in this book are meant to demonstrate what such core-taking on a range of mainly unexplored facets of the Reformer’s personality and experience can yield. It will open the way for other secular researchers to explore the seemingly endless interests of this complicated individual. It will also show that perspectives of cultural historians offer the broadest possible evidentiary base within which to analyze a figure of the past.
This new three volume work is to be published in mid October-
The three volumes present the current state of international research on Martin Luther’s life and work and the Reformation’s manifold influences on history, churches, politics, culture, philosophy, arts and society up to the 21st century. The work is initiated by the Fondazione per le scienze religiose Giovanni XXIII (Bologna) in cooperation with the European network Refo500.
Die Briefwechsel Rudolf Bultmanns mit dem Praktischen Theologen Götz Harbsmeier sowie dem Kirchenhistoriker und späteren Systematiker Ernst Wolf werden in einer gemeinsamen Edition zugänglich gemacht. Schließlich berühren sich die beiden Korrespondenzen nicht nur vielfach inhaltlich, sondern nehmen auch aufeinander Bezug. Somit wird eine facettenreiche und differenzierte Wahrnehmung der verhandelten Themen möglich, denen nicht nur eine theologiegeschichtliche Bedeutung, sondern auch eine hohe Relevanz für Theologie und Kirche in der Gegenwart zukommt. Die Themenpalette reicht dabei von der Entmythologisierungsdebatte, über die Schuldfrage und den Neuanfang in Kirche und Gesellschaft nach 1945, die Verhältnisbestimmung von Bekennender Kirche und liberalem Protestantismus, bis hin zum Problem der politischen Aktivität innerhalb der Kirche. Die Briefwechsel sind eindrucksvolle Zeugnisse theologischer und persönlicher Weggenossenschaft.
The one aspect of Rudolf Bultmann’s life with which too many are unfamiliar is his amazing collegiality. Here at hand in the present volume one discovers the richness and fullness of that collegiality as Bultmann corresponds with a Pastor and a Philosopher. The volume begins with an impressive introduction, a table listing all of the correspondence included in the book, a list of abbreviations, and various photographs and facsimilies.
The first half of the volume is then comprised of letters between Bultmann and Harbsmeier (126 in all) and a series of appendices which consist of letters from Karl Barth to Harbsmeier, a series of theses by H., a bit of correspondence between Wolf and H., and other important historical documents. There are 11 of these appendices in the first half of the entire collection.
The second half of the book is the correspondence between Wolf and Bultmann (70 in all) and then again a series of 10 appendices included a brief biography of Wolf, a bit of Thielicke correspondence, a brilliant, brilliant essay by Bultmann titled ‘For Christian Freedom’ (1949) which really ought to be widely read in our own troubled times, and other equally engaging historical documents.
The volume concludes with a bibliography, biblical index, institution index, periodical index, an index of places, people, and subjects. So, for instance, if one wishes to read about the ‘wrath of God’, the places where that concept is discussed is easily discoverable. Even Zwingli is included (!) (on page 569).
The most delightful aspect of the collection is, however, the amazing information we discover in the letters themselves. on 17 October, 1969, for instance, we learn that Bultmann’s wife had been very sick for some weeks and was hospitalized and that Bultmann’s eyes were giving him trouble.
24 August, 1936 finds us reading over Bultmann’s shoulder as he writes in the most straightforward terms concerning the German Christians. He signs the letter quite formally, and authoritatively ‘D. Rudolf Bultmann, o. Professor der Theologie’. Bultmann was unafraid to speak out as one of the leading authorities in German theology on the issues of the day, even as others feared reprisal or expulsion.
There is, as I’ve mentioned before, so much to learn from the personal correspondence of the great. Sometimes we learn more from letters than we do formal essays or books. Letters open up lives. Students of Bultmann or just students of Church history will find this volume to be amazingly engaging. It is certainly, then, most heartily recommended.
The Composition of Genesis 37: Incoherence and Meaning in the Exposition of the Joseph Story
Series: Forschungen zum Alten Testament 2. Reihe, 95
Genesis 37 is the exposition of the biblical Joseph Story and narrates the basis of Israel’s descent into Egypt. From the beginning of critical research into the Pentateuch, literary tensions and contradictions encountered in this chapter, including the question of who sold Joseph to whom, have given rise to several incompatible explanations. At present, no solution to its complex problems enjoys agreement. On top of a thorough history of research, Matthew C. Genung provides a fresh literary critical analysis of Genesis 37, treated passage by passage, and guided by the literary tensions in the narrative in dialogue with the most important solution models. This method has led to a new explanation of the compositional history of Genesis 37 that contributes to an understanding of the meaning of the actual text, solves its elements of tension and incoherence, and identifies their originating historical milieu.
For more information, please click here.
Theology from the Beginning: Essays on the Primeval History and its Canonical Context
Hardback, 340 pages
Publication Date: July 2017
Regular Price: $179.00 / Special Offer Price: $144.00
Publisher: Mohr Siebeck
Series: Forschungen zum Alten Testament, 113
The Primeval History (Genesis 1-11) is one of the most complex theological compositions of the Old Testament/the Hebrew Bible. Woven into its multi-layered text one finds reflections on an array of fundamental questions: How did the world come into being? Who is its creator? What role does humankind play in the larger scheme of creation? Why is the world that God made not a perfect one? And finally, is it possible to lead a meaningful and even happy life despite the unpredictabilities of existence? The essays by Andreas Schüle assembled in this volume address these and related questions through close readings of Genesis 1-11 and by relating them to kindred textual traditions throughout the Old Testament/the Hebrew Bible.
For more information, please click here.
- Did he really nail his Ninety-Five Theses to the church door?
- Did he throw an inkpot at the devil?
- Did he plant an apple tree?
- Did his wife escape her convent in a herring barrel?
Diving gleefully into the research, Malessa investigates many of the falsehoods and fallacies surrounding the reformer, rejecting them in favor of equally incredible facts. Full of humor and irony, this book educates and entertains while demonstrating a profound respect for Luther’s life and mission.
If you’re looking for the truth of the man behind the theses, come discover his faith and influence–with the myths stripped away.
Kregel have provided a review copy. It is an English edition of this little and thoroughly fantastic book. If the English rendition is as good as the German original, this book belongs in every person’s hands.
Hendrickson have just published this new volume:
Hendrickson’s The Complete Hebrew-Greek Bible combines under one cover the complete text of the Hebrew Bible and the Greek New Testament. Ideal for pastors, students, scholars, and anyone else who has studied both Greek and Hebrew, this is an excellent volume for those who want a complete original-language Bible in an attractive package and at an affordable price.
The Hebrew text is a beautifully typeset version of the Biblia Hebraica Leningradensis, edited by Aron Dotan.
– Qere forms are clearly set off in the margin (with corresponding unpointed Kethiv forms in the main text).
– The text is unencumbered by a critical apparatus, allowing for ease of reading.
The Greek New Testament is a recent typesetting of the edition produced by B. F. Westcott and F. J. A. Hort.
– Pericopes are labeled in English, and in the Gospels these labels are accompanied, where appropriate, by the verse references of their synoptic parallels.
– Quotations and allusions to the Old Testament are indicated in the Greek text in bold, with references at the bottom of the page.
– A straightforward, unobtrusive apparatus is found at the bottom of the page that presents the differences in wording between the Westcott-Hort edition and the 27th edition of Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece, as well as the Byzantine text edition prepared by Maurice Robinson and William Pierpont.
I will presume, for the sake of argument, that readers of the Greek New Testament and the Hebrew Old Testament are familiar with the standard scholarly editions: Westcott-Hort, Nestle-Aland, Leningradensis, BHS, BHK, BHQ, etc.
I will also assume, for the sake of brevity, that those same readers are familiar with the textual apparatus of the GNT and the HB in their various incarnations. In accordance with those two assumptions I will in what follows not bother to ‘review’ either Westcott-Hort nor Nestle-Aland nor Leningradensis. Familiarity with those is presumed.
What I will do is point out the makeup of the present edition and highlight its particular contribution to textual criticism and study of the biblical texts in their original languages.
First, the volume can be opened from either direction. If from the ‘front’ (for those familiar with Western language books) then one opens into the New Testament. If opened from the ‘back’ (the front for readers of Hebrew and other Northwest Semitic languages), one commences with the Hebrew Bible.
The New Testament portion of the volume includes a list of abbreviations and a Foreword by Eldon Jay Epp. Here he describes the development of Westcott-Hort’s text and offers a nicely well rounded bibliography for further study.
Next follows an Introduction to the present edition wherein the editors have described all the factoids useful for a proper appreciation and use of the volume. The textual apparatus is incredibly simple and consists of variants between WH, NA27, and Robinson/Pierpont’s Byzantine text. These variants are located at the bottom of each page. Further, the text proper of the New Testament includes bold face sections which indicate Old Testament citations or allusions. Section headings are in English (rather like UBS 4 and 5).
The font utilized is really quite lovely and the paper is thin but not ‘Bible paper’ thin. It’s nice. The pages are single column.
Turning to the Hebrew Bible, the text is Leningradensis. There are no footnotes of any kind and very few Masoretic notes – and these are in the margins. The Hebrew font utilized is bold and graceful.
Following the text of Leningradensis, a series of appendices are provided. These are
- A- Manuscript variants
- B- Petuhot and Setumot (Torah and Esther)
- C- The Shape of the Songs in the Manuscript
- D- Deviation in Gemination in the Tiberian Vocalization
- E- Scripture Readings
Each will be of particular interest to liturgical users of the Hebrew Bible.
So, to the question at hand- why another edition of the Hebrew Bible and Greek New Testament? First, might I remind readers that just a few years ago, there were NO editions of the Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament under one cover. The German Bible Society published the first such edition, and titled it Biblia Sacra Utriusque Testamenti Editio Hebraica Et Graeca. This volume is, however, already out of circulation and only available at extortionist prices. So at present the only option really available is the present Hendrickson edition.
Second, If history teaches us anything it’s that such volumes don’t hang around on the sale shelves long so I might recommend that you obtain a copy while you can. It is very much worth having- both for the Westcott-Hort text and the simplified textual apparatus (and you can always consult the usual editions if you have more textual questions) and for the lovely Hebrew text.
The price is incredible. You won’t find a one volume edition of the Bible (old and new testaments in their original languages) any less expensively. Anywhere.
Published today. Just scroll down the page to the section on the Apocrypha and you’ll find it.
While you’re obtaining this little gem why not go ahead and acquire the whole series either in print (buying each volume individually) or in PDF (for $199). It’s easy enough to do- just click the Paypal link and be sure to leave your email address when you order.
The author of the little gem titled ‘Women and Lust‘ sent a copy for review and I have to say, I think it’s one of the most important practical little booklets I’ve seen in many a year. It discusses a topic seldom addressed in the context of the Church. Indeed, it’s something I never have, and probably never will talk about specifically- the subject of women and lust.
We’re all familiar with the fact that men have a problem with lusting. Jesus talked about it quite openly and all of us know the danger of lust and all its implications in modern life, in reference to men. But women are hardly ever spoken to about the same issue. Sarah’s book fixes that.
To be sure, I am not a woman. But I can nonetheless heartily recommend this tractate to women. Sarah writes in an engaging style and illustrates the issue in a plainspoken, direct, folksy, down to earth way. She relates the stories of women who suffer the problem of lust, the truth that it is a common problem among women, the biblical truth that sex is a gift of God and not a curse, that lust is not the unforgivable sin (my term, not hers), and biblical examples of the power of love to overcome sin in our lives no matter what it is. She even cites John Calvin!
The only thing wrong with this little tome is that Sarah doesn’t cite Zwingli. Other than that, it’s gloriously done and immensely insightful and utterly helpful. I heartily commend it to the Christian women of the world. I’m naming it my ‘book of the week’.
I can’t wait to see what she writes next. She’s far better and far more theologically astute than the likes of Rachel Held-Evans and Nadia Bolz-Weber. So, Sarah, we’re waiting quite eagerly for your next book.
Note: Previous entries in the series are posted here.
A– I would consider it conservative. It seeks to advocate for the apostolic deposit as received in Scripture as normative for the church for all time, with it understood that further theological reflection on that deposit can help clarify it. This is the classic view in early Christianity and was the view of the Protestant reformers. I am seeking to recover and articulate afresh the apostolic understanding of faith, works, and the gospel of Jesus the king for today. The idea is not to repristinate, but to reappropriate these ancient concepts authentically in light of our contemporary contexts.
Yet some will feel that I am a radical (or maybe even heterodox) because I am calling into question elements of traditional Reformation-era theology. Although as a Protestant I am deeply gratefully for Luther, Calvin, Zwingli, Hubmaier, and other courageous early reformers, we need to be careful that we do not elevate Reformation-era theological conclusions beyond what is warranted.
Fidelity to the Reformation means maintaining the Reformation’s own emphasis on sola scriptura, not that we seek to freeze Reformation-era theology, so that we can microwave it for dinner in today’s postmodern world. If Reformation-era ideas about “faith” and “grace” prove slightly off-target with regard to the biblical evidence, then we need to contend for ongoing revisions to our theological systems as fearlessly as did they.
Speaking as a Protestant, I believe we should also receive the truth gladly wherever we can find it, so we should be attuned to what Catholic and Orthodox Christianity can offer. That’s what I am attempting to do in salvation by allegiance alone by being more exacting about the true relationship between “gospel,” “faith,” grace,” and “works.”
Q – Why is it that you include Calvin and Luther in your consideration but not Zwingli, who had a great deal to say in his ‘On Divine and Human Righteousness’ concerning salvation’s what and how?
A– Who is Zwingli? Isn’t he a hockey star? Truly our friend Huldrich is the ugly neglected step-child of the Reformation, is he not?
You will actually find very little on Calvin and Luther in Salvation by Allegiance Alone, so I wasn’t picking on Zwingli. Reformers are mentioned to add interest or provide context in a couple places, but their footprint in the book is tiny. This was a deliberate strategy.
The problem with writing a book on salvation theory is that many readers loudly proclaim sola scriptura, but actual want something considerably different in such books. What are they really after? Readers passionately want to hear that their Christian tribe really and truly got it right. Sadly I’ve been forced to conclude that some would prefer that to the actual truth itself.
Secondarily, readers desperately want to learn what Christian tribal team the author belongs to. Is this guy or gal Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox?—If Protestant, a Lutheran, Calvinist, radical reformer, an Arminian, a fundamentalist, a NPP advocate, an evangelical, a liberal? As an author, my sense is that many want to know this so that they can pre-judge arguments before even hearing them. I tried to curb this by framing the book in such a way as to undercut confessional boundaries from the outset.
Books on salvation theory that treat the Reformation can also get bogged down on internal squabbles and never get to the heart of Scripture’s teaching. An author says “xyz” about Luther, and someone shouts, but we need to qualify that because Luther also said “zyx”! (And this is easy to do since Luther said anything and everything). And statements about Calvinism are sent packing because Calvin himself said something different than his later disciples. In such books energy tends to spiral inward on Reformation-era disputes and contemporary denominationalism, and then to dissipate before really getting to the Bible itself.
By sidelining the Reformation, including our friend Huldrich, I was hoping to alleviate these problems. I wanted to force the reader to deal with Scripture alone in the raw to the degree such a thing is possible. At the end of the day, however, we shouldn’t be hermeneutically naïve in thinking we could or should ultimately neglect the many valid insights of the Reformation era. But many other books explore such things; readers may allow that mine need not do it too.
Q – Do you have plans to offer further thoughts on the subject as part of a larger ‘systematic theology’?
A– I suspect I will write another book on salvation theory sometime in the future. I doubt it would be a full-scale “systematic theology.” I won’t say “never” though, especially because I am still an early career theologian. I am saying “early career” to make myself feel better—as I have peaked in other ways¬. I turned 40 this year.
Thanks, Jim, for the excellent questions and dialogue. I’ve enjoyed it.
And thank you, Matthew.