Category Archives: Books

#ICYMI – Philip R. Davies’ Last Book

From Equinox Publishing – “The Bible for the Curious: A Brief Encounter” by Philip R. Davies

Unlike most textbooks, this book has no footnotes, avoids technical discussion as much as possible, and makes no assumptions about religious belief. Its aim is to introduce the contents in a way that engages readers critically, and to persuade them that in a modern secular society this collection of ancient writings can still contribute to the way we think about history, philosophy and politics.

Hardback copies are now in stock, and paperback will be in stock very soon. Learn more about this title on our website: https://www.isdistribution.com/BookDetail.aspx?aId=105235

It was a real joy to help Philip read through the manuscript, offer suggestions, and generally be of service to the wonderful man on what so tragically turned out to be his last project.  It’s a book you should read.  And it’s a book others would appreciate as a Christmas gift.

NB- Philip would LOVE that cover.

Reformierter Protestantismus im 20. Jahrhundert

Eine Geschichte des reformierten Protestantismus in Deutschland im 20. Jahrhunderts ist bisher nicht erschienen. Sie ist ein dringendes Desiderat, da die Reformierten in der Erforschung der neueren Kirchengeschichte wenig Beachtung finden, obwohl sie immer wieder besondere Facetten und Nuancen innerhalb des Protestantismus darstellten.

Dass Reformierte sich als Minderheitenkonfession zumeist marginalisiert empfunden und ein entsprechendes Selbstverständnis gera-dezu habituell gepflegt haben, ist ein mitlaufender Untersuchungsgegenstand der Beiträge dieses Bandes. Sie behandeln repräsentative Personen (Theologen, Kirchenfunktionäre, aber auch eine Gemeindeschwester), Regionen und Milieus, charakteristische Themen, Zeitabschnitte wie den Ersten Weltkrieg und den Kirchenkampf, herausragende Jahre wie auch Jubiläen, in denen sich das Selbstverständnis der Reformierten manifestierte.

Diese Studien zur Kirchlichen Zeitgeschichte wollen ergänzende Beiträge für die Kirchengeschichtsschreibung sein sowie innerhalb des reformierten Protestantismus zum selbstkritischen Rückblick verhelfen. Sie sind der Versuch einer Konfessionsgeschichte, die nicht einengt, sondern ergänzt und vertieft. Sie sind aus einer affirmativen Perspektive verfasst, sind aber weder apologetisch noch polemisch, sondern kritisch und dekonstruierend intendiert, sie sind wissenschaftlich zu verantworten und stellen gleichzeitig einen Beitrag zur konfessionellen Erinnerungskultur dar.

Generous Calvinist

This Liber Amicorum, book of friends, Generous Calvinist, celebrates the person and accomplishments of Dr. Richard J. Mouw on the occasion of an honorary doctorate conferred to him by the Theologische Universiteit Kampen. Mouw, an influential academic, philosopher, and teacher, has made important contributions to the theological and philosophical tradition of neo-Calvinism, and the dissemination of this tradition in North America and throughout Europe.

This booklet, bringing together voices of his friends, colleagues, and students, bears witness to Mouw’s ongoing achievements. The honor conferred to him by the Theologische Universiteit Kampen is richly deserved, as each of these short essays demonstrates. Mouw’s work and witness – through his scholarly contributions, ecumenical and interfaith dialogues, institution building, mentoring, friendship, and faith – testify to the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all of life and his commitment to living all of life coram Deo, before the face of God.

The Lexham English Septuagint (LES), Print Edition

The Lexham English Septuagint (LES) is a new translation of the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament writings used during New Testament times and in the early church. The LES provides a literal, readable, and transparent English edition of the Septuagint for modern readers. Retaining the familiar forms of personal names and places, the LES gives readers the ability to read it alongside their favored English Bible. Translated directly from Swete’s edition of the Septuagint, the LES maintains the meaning of the original text, making the Septuagint accessible to readers today.

The publisher has provided (kindly) a copy of the print edition, which I’ll review and report on in due course.  More anon.

You Need a Commentary That Helps Make Sense of the Bible: On Sale for Christmas!

Christmas Sale- $50 per Set Now Through December 24!!!!!!

the-person-the-pew-commentary-seriesThe ‘Person in the Pew’ commentary series is the only series of Commentaries in modern history written by a single person on the entire Bible and aimed at layfolk .  Everyone needs a commentary on the Bible that they can understand and that answers their questions about the meaning of the text.  So I wrote one.

If you or someone you know wants to get a copy of the entire 42 volume collection in PDF format, you can do so from yours truly for the exceptionally reasonable price of  $75 $50 through December 24 by clicking my PayPal Link.  Leave your email in your paypal payment note so I can send it to you right away.

Should you only wish one volume, email me and we can arrange it.

***

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

When You Feel About Your Work Like Calvin Felt About His…

You express it this way-

IF the reading of these my COMMENTARIES confer as much benefit on the Church of God as I myself have reaped advantage from the composition of them, I shall have no reason to regret that I have undertaken this work. — John Calvin, Commentary on the Book of Psalms, vol. 1, xxxv.

Amen.  And speaking of commentaries

Nominate a Book for the 2021 Melanchthon Prize

Die Melanchthonstadt Bretten verleiht am 20. Februar 2021 zum 12. Mal den Internationalen Melanchthonpreis der Stadt Bretten. Die Bewerbungsphase hat begonnen. Preiswürdig ist ein im Druck erschienenes Werk, das in hervorragender Weise dazu beiträgt, die Kenntnis über Melanchthons Leben und Werk oder die geistesgeschichtlichen Voraussetzungen, das Umfeld und die Folgen seines Wirkens zu vertiefen.

Der “Internationale Melanchthonpreis” ist mit 7.500 Euro dotiert und wird seit 1988 alle drei Jahre von der Stadt Bretten verliehen. Vorschläge mit Begründung können bis 1. Mai.2020 bei der Europäischen Melanchthon-Akademie Bretten eingereicht werden. Über die Vorschläge entscheidet im Auftrag der Melanchthonstadt Bretten eine internationale Findungskommission.

Weitere Informationen sind zu erhalten bei der Europäischen Melanchthon-Akademie Bretten, Prof. Dr. phil. Günter Frank, Melanchthonstraße 1-3, 75015 Bretten, Tel. 07252/9441-0, E-Mail: info@melanchthon.com

Via Refo500.

Republican learning: John Toland and the crisis of Christian culture, 1696-1722

This book explores the life, thought and political commitments of the free-thinker John Toland (1670-1722). Studying both his private archive and published works, it illustrates how Toland moved in both subversive and elite political circles in England and abroad. It explores the connections between his republican political thought and his irreligious belief about Christian doctrine, the ecclesiastical establishment and divine revelation, arguing that far from being a marginal and insignificant figure, Toland counted queens, princes and government ministers as his friends and political associates.

In particular his intimate relationship with the Electress Sophia of Hanover saw him act as a court philosopher, but also as a powerful publicist for the Hanoverian succession. The book argues that Toland shaped the republican tradition after the Glorious Revolution into a practical and politically viable programme, focused not on destroying the monarchy, but on reforming public religion and the Church of England.

The book also examines how Toland used his social intimacy with a wide circle of men and women (ranging from Prince Eugene of Savoy to Robert Harley) to distribute his ideas in private. It explores the connections between Toland’s erudition and print culture, arguing that his intellectual project was aimed at compromising the authority of Christian ‘knowledge’ as much as the political power of the Church.

Overall the book illustrates how Toland’s ideas and influence impacted upon English political life between the 1690s and the 1720s. It forms an excellent study on a fascinating character in early modern history, scholars and enthusiasts of the period will find it extremely valuable.

And it’s free to download.

God Is in the Manger: Reflections on Advent and Christmas by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Free from Logos now so get it while you can.  Sure, it’s Bonhoeffer.  But who knows, he may say something useful this time!  And if not, you didn’t spend anything on it!!!!

😉

A Most Excellent Way: An Essay on Faith, Hope, and Love

CHRISTOPHE CHALAMET

Faith, hope, and love are the three core realities of Christian existence. Far from being self-grounded, they are rooted in God’s action and being in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Reflecting on the meaning these three realities have for us today, Christophe Chalamet argues that we gain a deeper understanding of them as we consider them in their interrelation, rather than separately. The first disciples sometimes described their burgeoning tradition as “the Way.” The apostle Paul, who reflected on faith, hope, and love in his epistles, praised love as “a most excellent way.” This book in constructive theology, drawing from a wealth of thinkers from the Christian tradition broadly conceived, presents faith, hope, and love as the abiding response to God’s faithfulness, God’s justice, and God’s love, for the sake of this world.

Some of My Favorite Books in 2019

What are some of your favorite books?

Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation

I was unaware of the existence of this book (and of the series of 4 other volumes with which it serves as part) until it arrived for review.  So I thank Lexham for sending it along, doubtless knowing of my great interest in such things.

My review will post tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

The Lexham Geographic Commentary on Acts through Revelation delivers fresh insight by drawing attention to the geographical setting for the spread of Christianity in the first century AD. Geography is a central concern in Acts, but the full significance of its geographical context is easily overlooked without a familiarity with the places, the types of transportation, the relative distances, and the travel conditions around the Mediterranean in the first century AD. Luke’s account mentions places from all over the known world, and Paul’s missionary travels covered an estimated 15,000 miles by land and sea.

Jesus’ words in Acts 1:8 literally map the future travels of the Apostles and provide the structure for the rest of the book: The Apostles will take the gospel from Jerusalem (1:1–8:3) to Samaria and Judea (8:4–40, 9:32–11:18), and finally throughout the Roman world and beyond (13:21–28:31). Geography also provides a new depth of insight into John’s letters to the seven churches in Rev 1–3. Their locations along key Roman mail routes suggest the letters may make up a single composite message to be received in stages as the letters are passed along from one church to the other. The references in Acts and Rev 1–3 cover the full geographical context for the first century Church since some of the cities Paul visits in Acts are later the locations of churches that receive his letters such as Ephesus (Acts 19; Eph 1:11 Tim 1:3). The Lexham Geographic Commentary gives you insight into the importance of all of these locations—both culturally and spatially—and provides a deeper understanding of the spread of early Christianity.

The title of the volume is a bit misleading, as this is not, in fact, a geographic commentary on Acts through Revelation.  It is a commentary on fragments and select passages from Acts through Revelation.  The first ten chapters cover only select passages in Acts (by a variety of scholars) and it isn’t until the eleventh chapter that snippets from Acts, 2 Cor, Hebrews, I Peter, and Revelation are included.

Snippets from Acts predominate.  Indeed, it isn’t until chapter 42 that Acts is left behind and we move to Philippians.  Then Colossians appears, 1 Thess, Philemon, 1 Peter, and then Revelation (through the letters to the Seven Churches only).

Poor James and Jude are evidently geographically empty.

Mind you, there are lots of maps, charts, graphs and other useful illustrative material along with a subject index, a Scripture index, image source listing, and brief bios of all the contributors.

If they had titled the volume ‘Lexham Geographic Handbook on Acts Through Revelation’ it would be a virtually perfect volume.  But as they didn’t, and instead called it a commentary (which it is not), I have to quibble.

A commentary is a particular genre which prospective readers understand to be a volume or volumes which takes the text as it unfolds and explains it.  Commentaries don’t hop and skip and jump from hither to yon frenetically.  They are organized canonically.  And this book is not.

Further, there are places where the content itself is a bit troubling (or questionable) from a biblical studies point of view.  In chapter 35 Eckhard Schnabel opines that there is sufficient evidence to suggest that Paul was released from Roman imprisonment and made his way to Spain to carry out missionary work there.

Schnabel argues his case not on the scriptural evidence, since there is none, but on late secondary sources (which, as we all know, are seriously questionable as accurate historical sources).

After citing his secondary materials Schnabel writes

Many scholars accept these two passages as historical evidence that Paul was released from his (first) imprisonment in Rome, which allowed him to go to Spain.

Many more, however, do not.  Further on

It is a plausible assumption that Paul preached in Tarraco, but there were other cities that would have been plausible sites for missionary work…

Like Madrid or London I suppose.  Or Paris…  The point being that plausible assumptions are not the stuff of scholarship.  They are the stuff of fantasy.  The truth is, we simply have no reason to suggest that Paul made it to Spain.  The evidence is lacking.  He may have, but the best we can do is say ‘we don’t know that he did and we have no useful facts to say otherwise’.  As I remind students fairly often, ‘absence of evidence is evidence of nothing.’

It’s not all bad, however.  There are some genuinely excellent chapters.  Chapter 43, by Alan Cadwallader on Colossae is fantastically written and thoroughly unobjectionable.  And chapter 53 by Cyndi Parker on Laodicea is also exceptionally done.  The bibliographies are very good and, again, the maps are just fantastic.  Indeed, the maps alone are reason to obtain the volume.  Readers need merely be careful with the content because it is extremely conservative at points and thus not very useful (for academic purposes).

At the end of the day I would suggest you obtain a copy of this volume.  It’s worth having, even if it doesn’t live up to its title and its contents are dicey from time to time.

It’s Time to Get a Devotional Guide In Time for the New Year

Zwingli and Bullinger have a recommendation for you:

ZwingliBullingerDevotionalBook2We love this book. Love it. LOVE IT. Never in the history of Christianity has a book so profound been made available to the masses for a price so reasonable. Reading it is a theological education in a single volume which contains everything necessary for both salvation and proper doctrine.

Were we more excited about it we would resemble tiny puppies laying on their backs getting their bellies rubbed and wetting themselves. That’s how excited we are about this book. – H.B., H.Z.

Wow. I’m super humbled and super honored. First a video recommendation a few months back and now this (again). I just don’t know what to say.

The book is available from the publisher via print on demand, here

Or send me $5 via paypal and I’ll send you the PDF version.

Free Book of the Month from Logos

Pick it up here if you’re so inclined.

The Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts – Two-Volumes

The manuscripts that form the Greek New Testament are scattered throughout the world and are usually only accessible to scholars and professionals. These were the manuscripts read by the earliest Christians, which comprised their “New Testament.” In his volumes, Philip Wesley Comfort bridges the gap between these extant copies and today’s critical text by providing accurate transcriptions of the earliest New Testament manuscripts, with photographs on the facing pages so readers can see the works for themselves. Comfort also provides an introduction to each manuscript that summarizes the content, date, current location, provenance, and other essential information, including the latest findings. This allows students and scholars to make well-informed decisions about the translation and interpretation of the New Testament.

Volume 1 includes manuscripts from Papyrus 1-72. Volume 2 includes manuscripts from Papyrus 75-139 as well as from the uncials. In addition, it features a special section on determining the date of a manuscript. This two-volume set replaces the previously published single volume Text of the Earliest New Testament Greek Manuscripts, as it contains many new manuscripts, updated research, and higher quality images of all manuscripts previously covered.

A review copy of the set has arrived courtesy the good folk at Kregel (without any expectations for that review’s outcome).

These two volumes make the most important manuscripts immediately available to interested scholars.  Textual criticism is the foundation upon which all biblical studies must be constructed and these books aid that task immensely.  First, because the manuscripts are collected under one roof and second because the text is so sharply presented.

The first volume contains an important and extensive introductory section in which the authors introduce readers to their methodology, their procedure for dating manuscripts, their handwriting analysis, textual character, and finally, a bibliography for further study.  Then manuscript by manuscript they discuss

  • Contents
  • Date
  • Provenance
  • Housing location
  • Bibliography
  • Physical features
  • Textual character

Then follows an exact transcription of each particular ancient manuscript.

Not all of the aforementioned aspects occur with each text, but all those known do.  And in the case of groups of manuscripts (texts which belong together), the group is discussed more fully and extensively.

There are sporadically placed photos (black and white and of medium quality) throughout the two volumes with volume two containing a longer collection of photos at the end of the volume.

When manuscripts have blank spaces, those are indicated and when there are abbreviations in the manuscripts themselves, they too are indicated in the transcription.

These two books are indispensable for New Testament scholars, whether they be text critics or not.  Because the earliest texts are indisputably essential for any reconstruction of the biblical text and thus for the biblical message.

Scholars interested in more high resolution, color photos, can easily find them thanks to the internet and the availability online of early New Testament manuscripts.  But finding all of those manuscripts, and examining them, is extremely time consuming.  Here Comfort and Barrett have done all of the leg work for you.  If you wish to look more closely, you can.  But beginning here will be the sensible thing to do.

These two volumes are commended to your attention and, in my view, should be on your shelves.

If You Want a Beautiful Facsimile Edition of the First Bible Printed…

Get this two volume edition from the German Bible Society for 100 Euro

It’s beautiful.  Here are my remarks about it.

Don’t get this one, which costs 6 times as much and is a mere 1 volume (which means it’s reduced in size and thus not a true facsimile)-

Die Äbtissin, der Söldnerführer und ihre Töchter

Or, more fully, Christine Christ-von Wedel, Die Äbtissin, der Söldnerführer und ihre Töchter: Katharina von Zimmern im politischen Spannungsfeld der Reformationszeit. Unter Mitarbeit von Irene Gysel, Jeanne Pestalozzi und Marlis Stähli

Katharina von Zimmern förderte die Reformation in Zürich beträchtlich, als sie mit 46 Jahren das Fraumünsterstift der Stadt übergab. Kurz darauf heiratete sie den fünf Jahre zuvor in Zürich zum Tod verurteilten Söldnerführer Eberhard von Reischach, mit dem sie noch zwei Kinder hatte. Das ist längst bekannt. Aber es gibt über diese bemerkenswerte Frau und ihre Umgebung noch mehr zu berichten.

Neu gefundene und neu analysierte Quellen ermöglichen einen frischen und ungewohnten Blick auf die «Äbtissin» und die Reformation. Das Buch beleuchtet dabei das Zürcher Soldwesen, die Klosterpolitik der Stadt und Zwinglis Bündnispläne, aber auch die theologische, humanistische und höfische Literatur, die damals im Adel gelesen wurde, sowie das Alltagsleben mit seinen Kämpfen, Freuden und Leiden. Auch taucht eine junge Frau auf, die während Katharinas Äbtissinnenzeit zur Welt kam und deren Sohn behauptete, sie stamme vom Paar Reischach-Zimmern ab.

Christine Christ-von Wedel fügt die vielfältigen Themen der Reformationszeit zu einem farbigen detailreichen Panorama zusammen, das sich um Katharina von Zimmern entfaltet.

Christ-von Wedel here provides readers a very meticulously researched biographical investigation of one of the lesser known but immensely influential women of the early Reformation.  Both the table of contents and the foreword are available to readers at this link in pdf format.  A glance at the TOC provides the outline of the volume and the carefully structured historical reconstruction herein contained.

Concerning the subject: as Irene Gysel remarks in the foreword

Es sollte ein Roman werden. Nachdem das erste Buch über Katharina von Zimmern, herausgegeben 1999 von Barbara Helbling und mir, ausschliesslich historisch gesicherte Angaben enthielt, lag es nahe, die bewegte Lebensgeschichte der letzten Äbtissin des Zürcher Fraumünsters nochmals in etwas freierer Form nachzuerzählen. Schon ihre Kinder und Jugendzeit war abenteuerlich gewesen. Aufgewachsen in einer grossen Familie im Schloss Messkirch mit einer tatkräftigen Mutter und einem überaus begabten Vater, mehrmals vor der Pest in die Burg Wildenstein geflohen, dann durch das Unglück des Vaters aus Messkirch vertrieben, kam Katharina als Flüchtlingskind nach Weesen, wo gleichzeitig, sozusagen im Nachbarhaus, der sechsjährige Ulrich Zwingli bei seinem Oheim, Pfarrer und Dekan, unterrichtet wurde. Mit 18 Jahren wurde sie Äbtissin, nach 28 Jahren im Amt übergab sie die Abtei der Stadt, heiratete und gebar in hohem Alter noch zwei Kinder, bei der Geburt ihrer Tochter Anna war sie 47 Jahre alt. Es gibt zu Katharina von Zimmern erstaunlicherweise ganz wenige Quellen und vor allem kein Bild. Das lässt viel Raum für eine eigene Gestaltung.

To tell the story of von Zimmern and those in her circle, Christ-von Wedel assembles as many primary sources as possible and examines them in incredible detail.  She illustrates her research with numerous photos and images (83 of them to be precise) and provides an extensive list of those primary sources along with a chronology and other informative materials.  The book also features two ribbon bookmarks which I used to mark my place in the volume as I read through it and to mark the endnotes and their location for ease of access.

Von Zimmern was a person of incredible importance in the early years of the Zurich Reformation.  A fact recognized by none less than Zwingli himself, who signed a copy of one of his books (On Divine and Human Righteousness) on its title page for her.  That is, he gave her an autographed copy.  Her life and the lives of those closest to her are the subject of this work.  As the author notes of her work in the last sentence of the text

So sei hier innegehalten und der Versuchung widerstanden, vorwitzig in das Geheimnis von Katharinas Persönlichkeit eindringen zu wollen.

This is biography at its best because it shows magnificently the way that one life is always intertwined with many lives and can never be understood without a grasp of those intertwinings.  I commend this brilliant study to your attention and urge you to read it.  Not only to learn of one of the widely unknown yet immensely important women of the Reformation, but to learn how historical biographies can best be written.

Essays on the Book of Isaiah

Essays on the Book of Isaiah, by Joseph Blenkinsopp

This volume of essays by Joseph Blenkinsopp on different aspects of the book of Isaiah is the product of three decades of close study of the most seminal and challenging texts of the Hebrew Bible. Some of the essays deal with major themes in Isaiah, for example, universalism, theology and politics, and the Suffering Servant of the Lord God. Five of them are published here for the first time.

I can’t think of a single living person who knows more about Isaiah than Joe Blenkinsopp.  And no one has done more to further our understanding of that book.  Here collected, then, are 20 essays by an excellent scholar, 15 of which have appeared over a number of years across a variety of platforms.  5 additional essays that have never appeared before are also included.

The table of contents is available here, along with the first essay (which has never been published before), and the biblical index.

The essays appearing here for the first time are as follows:

  • The Formation of the Hebrew Bible Canon: Isaiah as a Test Case
  • Isaiah and the Neo-Babylonian Background
  • The Sectarian Element in Early Judaism: The Isaian Contribution
  • Zion as Reality and Symbol in Psalms and Isaiah
  • The Suffering Servant, the book of Daniel, and Martyrdom

The remainder, as listed in the table of contents have, as suggested above, all appeared above in a variety of sources including journals and collections of essays.

Everyone who works in Isaiah studies knows the name of Joe Blenkinsopp and everyone who attends CBA or SOTS or SBL has seen him at one or more of those meetings.  Sleight of stature but powerful of intellect, hat wearing and mustachioed, he is a grave presence; an icon; a fixture.  His unflagging energy is inspiring and his intellectual vigor astonishing.

For those new on the scene of biblical studies, Joe was

Born in Durham, England. Taught at International Theological College, Romsey, U.K., Chicago Theological Seminary, Vanderbilt University and University of Notre Dame from 1970; Guest-Professor at Pontifical Biblical Institute, Rome, 1998.  Member of several learned societies including Society of Biblical Literature, Society for the Study of the Old Testament (U.K., President 1999-2000), Catholic Biblical Association (President 1988-1989), European Association of Biblical Studies.  ATS Research grant 1978, Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford 1982-1983 with NEH grant, Mellon Retiree Research Grant 2005-2006.  Excavated at Tel Dan, Israel 1977 and at Capernaum, Israel  with Notre Dame University support 1980-1987. Rector of Ecumenical Institute, Tantur, Israel, 1978.  

And more, frankly.  Were all his publications, lectures, conference papers, and assorted other academic achievements listed the ‘world could not contain all the books’ that it would take.

I mention all that not merely to appear fawning (though Joe has long been a hero of mine); but to place him on the stage where he belongs:  dead center.  And so does his little book of essays just published by Mohr.

When he writes, for example, in his explanation of the identity of the tsaddiq of Isaiah 57:2, that

… not everything in these chapters can be derived from one source or only reduced to one formula only, but this prophetic legacy, announced at the end of Deutero-Isaiah (54:17), is clearly a prominent theme and provides an important element of continuity in the post-disaster Isaian corpus…

we are brought to the cusp of Blenkinsopp’s genius:  a careful, measured, thoughtful, and provocative eye for the details and ability to express his insights with clarity and brevity.  That ability is on display throughout these essays.  Students of Isaiah will be greatly assisted in their own studies if they will take the time and make the effort to read through what Professor Blenkinsopp has written.

Were We Ever Protestants? Essays in Honour of Tarald Rasmussen

This anthology discusses different aspects of Protestantism, past and present.

Professor Tarald Rasmussen has written both on medieval and modern theologians, but his primary interest has remained the reformation and 16th century church history. In stead of a traditional «Festschrift» honouring the different fields of research he has contributed to, this will be a focused anthology treating a specific theme related to Rasmussen’s research profile.

One of Professor Rasmussen’s most recent publications, a little popularized book in Norwegian titled «What is Protestantism?», reveals a central aspect research interest, namely the Weberian interest for Protestantism’s cultural significance. Despite difficulties, he finds the concept useful as a Weberian «Idealtypus» enabling research on a phenomenon combining theological, historical and sociological dimensions. Thus he employs the Protestantism as an integrative concept to trace the makeup of today’s secular societies.

This profiled approach is a point of departure for this anthology discussing important aspects of historiography in reformation history: Continuity and breaks surrounding the reformation, contemporary significance of reformation history research, traces of the reformation in today’s society.

The book relates to current discussions on Protestantism and is relevant to everyone who want to keep up to date with the latest research in the field.

Visitors to this link will find access to the table of contents and other front matter which will help them in deciding whether or not this is a volume they wish to read.  I think those interested in the Reformation will be drawn to the work.

As the table of contents is available above I won’t be repeating it here.  Instead, I will make a few observations about the book, which I found very interesting and informative, and I will point out a few problems with the book.

First, the observations:  the essays in this collection are a fitting celebration of the scholar herein honored.  Rasmussen is certainly the most accomplished of Reformation scholars from Scandinavia, and the work at hand centers its attention primarily on the outworking of the Reformation in those lands.  Particularly engaging, for me, were the essays by Leppin (who is a wonderful scholar), Jürgensen, and Kaufmann.

Jürgensen’s intriguing contribution featured a number of excellent photographs which properly illustrated his chief thesis, which is that art is the one place Protestants felt comfortable in retaining their Roman Catholic affinity for images and idols.  The cult of the Saints is alive and well in Protestantism, in other words, in artistic depictions – even if the cult was denounced in sermons and tractates.

And Kaufmann’s essay is simply superb.  His assertion that

The German ‘Protestant community’ itself has a chequered history of division and hatred.  The Lutheran and Reformed (Calvinist) parties required considerable time and effort to overcome doctrinal differences and reach a frosty unity based on perception of the common Catholic enemy.

is right on the mark.  And his demonstration of that truth in his contribution is thorough and intelligent.  He is, accordingly, also right to point out that

The Peace of Augsburg may therefore have established political and legal peace, but it did nothing to prevent – indeed promoted – the establishment of a bitter confessional split in the German nation which provided the framework for the development of an unparalleled level of inter-confessional rancor and uninhibited polemic.

And now, second, a few problems with the book.  The primary issue readers will have with the book is that there are a number of places where it is obvious that it has not been carefully examined by a native English speaker.   For instance,

on page 1 – ‘bin’ stands where the word should be ‘been’.

on page 4 – ‘Luther’s Catholic Intention and the Raise of Protest’ should be ‘Luther’s Catholic Intention and the Rise of Protest’.

on page 7 – ‘Making Luther Protesting’ should be ‘Making Luther Protestant’.

on page 11 – “Wider Hans Worst” should be ‘Wieder Hans Wurst’.

And finally (because I don’t want to list every grammatical error but simply illustrate their fairly common appearance), on page 11 the closing paragraph as a whole is oddly constructed (from an English point of view):

Was Luther ever a Prostestant?  Again: No, never.  How could he?  Luther wanted to be a Catholic, and he felt being a Catholic.  Sure, not a Roman Catholic, but he was neither a Lutheran nor a Protestant.  He was just: a Christian.

The wonderfully informative and engaging essays of this collection deserved a second go through linguistically.  The reading experience of this book is less pleasurable than it could be, and should be, simply because the various grammatical errors are jarring.   Reading the work is like driving down a lovely highway where the scenery out the windows of the car is simply enthralling and being jarred from the experience by a giant pothole that nearly shakes one from one’s seat.

I sincerely hope that should a second edition appear, it will be combed through by an English editor before it is printed.

Writing, Rewriting, and Overwriting in the Books of Deuteronomy and the Former Prophets: Essays in Honor of Cynthia Edenburg

Cynthia Edenburg is one of the leading experts of the formation of the books covering Deuteronomy and the Former Prophets, commonly called “the Deuteronomistic History”. She has renewed scholarly understanding of the process how the narrative and legal traditions that are gathered in these books were written down for the first time before they were edited in several ways by the Deuteronomistic redactors. She provided new insight into these redactional processes by distinguishing several ways of revising a text. Most of the contributions gathered in this volume pursue the question of the composition and revision of the books of Deuteronomy and the Former Prophets. Additional contributions deal with the history of the text of other books, from Genesis to Chronicles. They are all presented to Cynthia Edenburg as an appreciation of her influence on current scholarship.

Editors:  Koch I.Römer T.Sergi O.