I could wax eloquent about the three day Bible conference held at St. Thomas’ Episcopal Church, Whitemarsh that hosted us this past weekend. Speakers were Walter Brueggemann (dramatic, poetic, evocative about the big-picture and passionate as ever), Carolyn Sharp (a gentle and Christ-shaped Yale Divinity School teacher of the Hebrew Bible, who happens to teach a class on the prophetic imagination of Dr. B) and Reformed Biblical scholar Peter Enns. (Enns is known by many as former editor of the Westminster Theology Journal, one of the most rigorous, conservative, academic theological journals around, and is known by some for his unfortunate departure from Westminster Theological Seminary.)
These three lively teachers were a great combo, offering what might be called canonical, critical, pastoral, imaginative messages on what the texts of the Bible tells us about the ways of the God of the Bible. They invited us to stake our very lives on these often odd texts and dared to read them honestly, if creatively, sometimes one text over and against another. Traditional scholars of the right and left might have considerable bones to pick with their neo-orthodox methodologies, but the gathered faithful were delighted as God’s Word was taken seriously, in its revelatory, unsettling, transformative, prophetic power, for us, there. Kudos to Father Merek Zabriskie, the Rector of St. Thomas’ Whitemarsh for his nationally-known passion for getting folks to read the Bible through in a year. (Learn about The Bible Challenge here.) And thanks to all who encouraged us as we promoted books, for those who were kind to us in our literary ministry.
For a quick overview that ruminates on some of the themes, read Peter Enn’s blog post from patheos about it.
As is often the case, we brought back some unsold books and rather than return them at great cost to ourselves, we pass some savings on to you. These are not the only great books we had on display last weekend, but they are some that we think you’d like, that we have some room to discount deeply, and that we’d love to offer to our internet friends. Please use the link to the order form shown below. We securely take most credit cards or can just send along a bill so you can pay by check later.
DISCOUNT OFFER GOOD FOR ONE WEEK ONLY, OFFER EXPIRES MAY 10, 2012.
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â€¨Out of Babylon Walter Brueggemann (Abingdon) $15.00 SALE PRICE $10.00 You may know that Brueggemann nearly single-handedly helped Bible readers of our age appreciate the harsh significance of 587 BC and how the destruction of Jerusalem and the subsequent exile of Jews into Babylonian captivity remains a central, generative moment at the heart of the Old Testament. Indeed, as Professor Brueggemann puts it, much of the Hebrew Bible was anticipating that dreadful judgement, and other portions reflect back upon it. He scribbled on the flip chart a big descending arrow heading towards 587 and another flowing up out of it. When he proclaimed that this is the very shape of Christian faith—with Christ’s death the analogue of Jewish captivity and exile, and resurrection hope the analogue to return after exile—we got chills. Could this deeply Biblical metaphor (rooted in history, but more than mere historical reportage, freighted as it is with such deep layers of covenantal truth) be applied to today? Is 9-11 our “zero hour”? Are we now in Babylon, captive to pagan ideologies? How does the recent awareness of the role of Empire—then and now—help us more accurately understand these Biblical texts? How do we plumb the depths of these rich 8th century poets and preachers and live them within our own social location? Out of Babylon includes top-notch essays (or are they sermons?) making this a fabulously useful book on one of Brueggemann’s most enduring insights and most generative tropes.
The more we learn to hear these passages and embrace them as formative for us, using the rhetoric and passion of Brueggemann’s own prophetic imagination, the more faithful we may be in our own navigations of the powers of this world. You need to get this book!
The Word That Redescribes the World: The Bible and Discipleship Walter Brueggemann (Fortress) $35.00 SALE PRICE $17.00 I just love the heft and shape of this beautiful hardback, and cherish it, even as I don’t necessarily agree with all of it. These are essays and sermons that try to get at how the Jewish and Christian Scriptures not only redescribe the world, but redefine the possible (as we reconstrue our worldview) and how this shape us into a community of missional discipleship. Along the way, he shows how we must confront the attitudes and practices of consumption and aggression that so constrict our imaginations. The “startling vision of human life opened up by the Scriptures” shows us how the church can be a counterculture. There are over a dozen essays here, and I am convinced that having the chance to ponder even a few of them are well worth the price of this volume. Rich, loquacious, poetic and deeply insightful about the role of the Bible in shaping our imaginations and discipleship, this is a great example of Brueggemann’s Bible scholarship in service to the people of God. This hardcover is going out of print, so get it while you can!
The Message of the Psalms Walter Brueggemann (Augsburg) $19.00 SALE PRICE $10.00 This is doubtlessly one of the most important and respected books written on the Psalms in our lifetime. It is serious, without being scholarly. In a nutshell that doesn’t do his deep rhetoric justice, he notes that there are three sorts of Psalms, which he famously calls psalms of orientation, disorientation and reorientation. Some of us hear in that overtures of the themes of good creation, radical fall, and redemptive new creation. Very useful, informative, highly recommended.
Praying the Psalms: Engaging Scripture and the Life of the Spirit Walter Brueggemann (Wipf & Stock) $14.00 SALE PRICE $11.00 This is a 2nd edition of a great little book on how to pray using the Psalter. Very handsome little paperback, rich and evocative. It is not a daily devotional, although it has been called a classic of spirituality, allowing the Psalms to serve as an “antidote to
Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth: Prayers of Walter Brueggemann Walter Brueggemann (Fortress) $17.00 SALE PRICE $11.00 A fabulously nice collection of poem-prayers, beloved by thousands, in a very nice shaped paperback with French fold flaps. Walt is renowned for these gloriously literate, honest, raw, poetic prayers, and it is cool that there are small notes indicating when and where each was offered. Some are linked to very specific Bible texts, making them suitable for your own devotions and for use in worship settings. Wow.
Great Prayers of the Old Testament Westminster/John Knox) $15.00 SALE PRICE $8.00 Here is Walter doing his classic close readings of the text–observing what it says and doesn’t say–and often framing this by the broader theological and socio-political facts on the ground as the Bible story unfolds. Some are royal, some are by prophets, some are rejoicing in exuberant gladness and some are gut-wrenching laments. Here are prayers you’ve heard of and cherish, and a few you may not have considered before. This is not only fascinating Bible study, but helps us learn a Biblically-informed way of praying, which is itself quite a formidable task, given all the common assumptions so many of us have about prayer and how it works. This would be great for small groups or serious adult learners, too. Look out!
The Practice of Prophetic Imagination: Preaching an Emancipating Word Walter Brueggemann (Fortress) $25.00 SALE PRICE $15.00 I’m not going to lie–there weren’t as many clergy at this event as we had anticipated, so we way over ordered on this. Yet, it is spectacular, and I believe fruitful for anyone who wants to speak about, live out of, or dig deeper into what he famously calls “the prophetic imagination.” How many years have we been waiting for a sequel to that classic, all-important book? Want to read about “loss imagined” and “relinquishment” as he described so subversively so many years ago? Want to learn how better to imagine the world, and explain it, “as if YHWH—the creator of the world, the deliverer of Israel, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ whom we Christians come to name as Father, Son, and Spirit—were a real character and an effective agent in the world”? This is the best deal your going to get on this heavy book, and I think it will be well worth the investment.
Testimony to Otherwise: The Witness of Elijah and Elisha Walter Brueggemann (Chalice) $19.99 SALE PRICE $15.00 What intriguing stories these are, and how creatively rendered in the dramatic hands of Dr. B. I can just hear him, draaaawing out his syllables, retelling these stories, getting all frantic, skipping over inconsequential parts, making clever asides, and moving us to imagine the world otherwise. You know one of these prophets is named in the last verse of the last book of the Old Testament, and early in the gospels, folks mistake John the Baptist for him. That is, this is important stuff that I think we ought not forget. I’m glad Walt brings this stuff to life. As he notes, “These narratives do not speak loudly, do not argue, and do not overwhelm. They are simply there in their durable simplicity, subtly waiting to be heard yet again, making available genuine choice and genuine possibility.” Can the church today “recover its voice in a way that is unfettered and unencumbered by old habits? This radical call to fidelity may be a way to help us to it. Recommended.
Disruptive Grace: Reflections on God, Scripture, and the Church Walter Brueggemann, edited by Carolyn J. Sharp (Fortress) $35.00 SALE PRICE $22.00 I named this as one of the books of the year last year and for very good reason. Now that we’ve met Carolyn, we are all the more convinced that her guiding hand walking us through the Brueggemann corpus is very helpful. She is not so much of a fan that she is star-struck, and at the Bible conference at Whitemarsh she begged to differ more than once. (Ahh, but ever so kindly. What a grace this was, to see such vital, but gracious, scholarly discourse.) Here, she gives excellent, serious summaries of what to look for in key Brueggemann writings, and then offers some of his “best of” pieces to illustrate his major contributions to the study of torah, prophets, and writings as well as a fourth section called “Canon and the Theological Imagination: Exodus and Resurrection.” This is a great introduction for serious folk wanting to dig in deep, and a must-have for any fans.
Old Testament Prophets for Today Carolyn J. Sharp (Westminster/John Knox) $13.00 SALE PRICE $7.00 I love this entire handsome little set of books, with uniform type covers, on Biblical topics from the Psalms to the Parables. This one is ideal for small groups, adult ed classes, or anyone who can’t quite afford a major library dedicated to commentaries on the major and minor prophets. Carolyn nicely examines the texts with her own broad awareness of the critical literature and interpretive schemes (she is very aware of various interpretive schools, the use of irony in the Hebrew Scriptures, how Near Eastern ideologies influence the forming of these Biblical books, and is clearly working out of a moderate, mainline perspective with a great desire to serve the church. ) It is written for lay folks, though, clearly written, with discussion questions at the end of each of 9 short chapters. It is good and simple, a bit provocative, and nicely useful.
Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament Peter Enns (BakerAcademic) $19.99 SALE PRICE $13.00 We have to be honest. There are things we know about the Bible that make us scratch our heads. I’ve touted books here before documenting the great reliability of the Old Testament texts, but there are manuscript difficulties with which we must grapple. Enns does not sweep some of the complex and complicated troubles with the Bible and within the Bible, under the proverbial rug. More liberal, ecumenical, mainline scholars haven’t minded using critical m
ethods of deconstructing the texts, discussing the contradictions and such; many of us believe this was mostly unhelpful as the reliability of God’s written Word was seriously and needlessly eroded. Yet, as Enns dramatically shows, it has not served evangelicals to insist on a 19th century view of inerrancy or to pretend that critical methods aren’t useful in some ways. He discusses all this admirably here. This is, I suppose, the book that cost him his job. For that reason alone–he has paid a price to get this stuff said—you may want to buy it, and see for yourself. Scholars from reputable places like Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and of serious reputation such as Bruce Waltke, have given it very great reviews. Enns has done fine work on Exodus (NIV Application Commentary published by Zondervan is highly recommended) and Ecclesiastes (Two Horizons Commentary series was published to great acclaim by Eerdmans) but this is his important book on how the Bible was written, how to read it, and how the worldview of Ancient Near East writers must be understood before we live into this story in our own time.
The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins Peter Enns (Brazos) $17.99 SALE PRICE $10.00 Wow, what an important book, especially for those of us who want to take the Genesis creation stories with utmost seriousness and orthodoxy. There are bold endorsements here from Scot McKnight, Tremper Longman, Amos Young and other Bible scholars of the evangelical tradition. And, his colleague at BioLogos, Karl Giberson, a science writer, celebrates Enns as “one of America’s most important Old Testament scholars” and insists this is “masterful.” This is extraordinary for its candor and clarity, offering huge insights about Biblical interpretation and about the very urgent questions about faith and evolutionary science. Highly recommended.
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