As always, thanks to those who sent orders our way from the last BookNotes. After highlighting wise and balanced basic Christian growth titles I shared some about deeper spiritual life stuff on sabbath, St. Ignatius, the desert fathers and mothers, and the like and we enjoyed the response. Plus, folks are still pre-ordering the forthcoming Jamie Smith book, How to Inhabit Time: Understanding the Past, Facing the Future, Living Faithfully Now which releases September 20, 2022. It sells for $24.99 and we have it at the BookNotes 20% off, making it just $19.99. We will still have some of the free little guided journals that Brazos has made available for those who preorder it early. While supplies last, naturally…
In writing about and recommending resources for the transformation of your own interior lives, books such as those from Henri Nouwen and Ruth Haley Barton and that forthcoming one by Trevor Hudson joining the insights of St. Ignatius and Dallas Willard, we were highlighting books that might be called contemplative spirituality.
However, even the quiet mystics and louder Pentecostals and most who want a true encounter with the living God would be quick to say that one of the classic disciplines of spiritual formation is reading the Bible. It must be read in community, be heard in liturgical worship, used in study and in our more common devotional reflections. Over and over. I’m no fundamentalist Bible thumper but after nearly a lifetime of small group study and Sunday school classes and being shaped by Biblically informed liturgy and sermons, the more open I am to hermeneutical fuzziness; I’ve read enough good commentaries and heard enough astute talks and chatted with so many ordinary folks to know that good people see things differently. But, man, I love studying the Bible, God’s Word that it is.
There’s a continuum, of course, from those who read it woodenly and literalistically (except, uh, when they conveniently don’t) to those who read it almost all figuratively and allegorically or worse. There are strengths and weaknesses of various camps and traditions, but I love the basic insights of Gordon Fee & Douglas Stuart’s thoughtful classic How to Read the Bible For All That It’s Worth (Zondervan; $24.99) that insists that different genres of the Biblical literature need to be read differently. Naturally, God’s Word or not, we read a poem differently than a letter. History is different from dreams and parables are to be interpreted differently than epistles. Usually we read much of the Bible straight up, but sometimes it’s sarcastic or ironic and we should take the meaning to be the opposite of what it says. In any case, we read the Bible well if, at least, we read it literarily.
One very recent book that explores this is by a theologically conservative black woman, Kristie Anyabwile, who helps us all a lot in Literarily: How Understanding Bible Genres Transforms Bible Study (Moody Press; $14.99; our sale price = $11.99.) It’s short and sweet and good.
Jen Wilken, herself an expert Bible teacher and popular author says:
The power of language rests not just in what words are said, but in how they are said. The words of Scripture are no exception. Perhaps no tool is more useful, or more often overlooked, than a basic understanding of how the Bible speaks. Kristie offers excellent help to those who want to read the Bible as it is written: as a collection of different ways of writing, all telling one marvelous story.
Perhaps more meaty and a bit more literary itself is a recent book by Matthew Mullins, a Baptist English prof, who wrote Enjoying the Bible: Literary Approaches to Loving the Scriptures (Baker Academic; $22.99; our sale price = $18.39.) It’s impressive.
Listen to what James K. A. Smith says of this:
What if reading the Bible is a matter not just of discerning what it says but of attending to how it speaks? Then reading the Bible is more like experiencing a poem than processing a rule book. In this marvelous game changer of a book, Matthew Mullins invites readers to encounter the Bible as literature, not to diminish its revelatory authority but to break open its luminary capacity. I’m so glad this book is in the world. –James K. A. Smith, Calvin University; editor in chief, Image journal; author of You Are What You Love and On the Road with Saint Augustine
BOOKS ABOUT THE BIBLE, ON SALE —AND A FREE BOOK OFFER (SEE BELOW)
Here are a few other books, some fairly recent and some brand new, that might be useful as you spend summer days reflecting on the most important book ever sold. I assume you have a good translation and a study Bible or two. If not, give us a call right away. And, oh yeah, I’ve got some extra copies of a stunning book to share with our compliments if you buy something from this list (soon.) As always, just use the order form link at the end, which takes you to our secure order form at the website. Or, call us here at the shop. We’re in Monday – Saturday, 10 – 6 and if your in the area, we’re doing backyard customer service and easy curbside deliveries.
The Gospel of Our King: Bible, Worldview, and the Mission of Every Christian Bruce Riley Ashford & Heath A. Thomas (Baker Academic) $22.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $18.39
I name this because I believe deeply that the big picture of the transforming vision of the unfolding drama of the Bible is the most important thing to do. Any given passage simply must be seen within the big, redemptive Story, the kind of story in which we find ourselves. There are other Bible introductions and missionally-sensitive readings, but for now, this is a fav. Highly recommended.
Two of my favorite writes are Craig Bartholomew (a philosopher) and Michael Goheen (a theologian.) Here is what they say about this.
The Gospel of Our King is a sheer delight. This is what happens when you bring together close attention to the Bible as a whole, worldview, and mission, just as they should be, with the overarching focus on the glory of God. A creative, accessible, and eminently practical work. –Craig G. Bartholomew, director, Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, Cambridge
A wonderful book. Ashford and Thomas take us to the heart of the Christian faith. Their writing is engaging and the idols they challenge are timely, making this a book full of insight for faithful Christian living today. –Michael W. Goheen, Missional Training Center, Surge Network of Churches-Phoenix, and Covenant Theological Seminary
What Is the Bible and How Do We Understand It? Dennis R. Edwards (Herald Press) $12.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $10.39
This is a very small book, feisty and well written, by the powerful black author and Northern Seminary NT prof, Dr. Dennis Edwards (whose book Might from the Margins which we’ve reviewed at BookNotes is very good.) It’s part of the great little series called “The Jesus Way: Small Books of Radical Faith” which, while not exactly Anabaptist or Mennonite, have the Christ-focused and active bent that that tradition at its best nicely exemplifies. This is a fabulous introduction to basic questions many have about the Scriptures.
Here are the six chapters (each that have great reflection or discussion questions, making this ideal for a small group or Sunday school class.)
- What Is the Purpose of the Bible?
- How Was the Bible Born?
- What Is the Center of the Bible?
- What Is the Spirit of the Bible?
- Who Gets to Interpret the Bible?
- What Impact Does the Bible Make?
Seven Things I Which Christians Knew About the Bible Michael Bird (Zondervan) $17.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39
I’m sure I’ve highlighted this before, too, and, again, it is compact sized, not too hefty. Michael Bird is a fun and funny academic, a scholar from Down Under who, as you may know, has co-authored books with the world-class N.T. Wright. Bird is a prolific and important scholar (also online with a popular theological studies blog called “Euangelion” and a clever podcast with Amiee Byrd (called “Birds of a Feather.”) In any case, he’s a tremendous, balanced, honest evangelical. This book is excellent, and, even if basic, vital.
Young scholars as diverse as Dru Johnson and Aimee Byrd and Dan Kimball and Nijay Gupta all say everybody should read it.
I love Aimee Byrd’s endorsement:
If you want to grow in your competence of reading Scripture and have a crackalackin’ good time doing it, read this book.
Let’s hope crackalackin’ good time is an Australian phrase she picked up on the podcast with Mike. In any case, she’s right — competence and crackalackin’. Order it today!
A Beginner’s Guide to Practicing Scriptural Imagination Kenneth Carter (Upper Room Books) $9.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $7.99
If Seven Things is a moderately thick — just over 200 pages — compact-sized book, this is a thin compact sized one, weighing in at about 75 small pages. I suggest it here, though, as there is hardly anything like it. You will cherish it, I bet.
The first handful of pages describes what he means by forming our Scriptural Imagination, and why we need more than information, but immersion. This is perhaps akin to using the technique of lectio divina but not exactly. In a way, it is less rigorous. In any case, his ruminations about this alone are worth the couple of bucks, good to remind you and helpful for you to share with others. Not everybody gets that, you know?
The heart of the book are four imaginative reflections on four texts which, in Carter’s skilled hands, offers two things. Firstly, he is showing us how to approach Biblical texts well, reflectively and imaginatively and seriously. Secondly, he is not only offering insights about imaginative reading, but, he says, these very texts will help solidify this vision of right brained (or whole brained, perhaps) reading.
The passages he offers us are The Vine and the Branches (John 15), The Sower, The Seed, and the Soils (Mark 4), The Feeding of the Multitudes (Luke 9) and The Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25.) He has a small “what’s next” section which lists some places to try this sort of reading and a handful of books, contemplative and Biblical.
Life with God: Reading the Bible for Spiritual Transformation Richard Foster (HarperOne) $15.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79
There are many great books on reading the Bible more slowly, meditatively, with a contemplative approach to actually come to know God and learn to hear the Spirit’s voice. This is a near classic by a delightful, ecumenical, Quaker who is doubtlessly one of the most important Christian writers of the last 50 years. This offers an intimate connection between Scripture and spirituality.
To show its appeal, besides the “starred review” it got back in the day from Publishers Weekly, check out these three endorsements, from three different places in the big church pew:
Alluring warmth, empathetic breadth, and twenty-twenty perceptiveness, mild on sin but firm on grace, have together become the hallmark of the Renovare books. This pathway into the “with-God life” is a worthy addition to the study. — J.I. Packer, Professor of Theology, Regent College and author of Knowing God.
Foster is a reliable, compelling guide for a life in which God is a defining agent. The news from Foster is good indeed: God is with us! — Walter Brueggemann, Emeritus Professor of Old Testament, Columbia Theological Seminary, The Prophetic Imagination
You hold in your hands a very wise book written for anyone who craves a deep, palpable connection to God. If you want to discover new ways of entering the Bible, and letting it enter you, you will find no better guide than Richard Foster. — Lauren F. Winner, Duke Divinity School, Wearing God
Eugene Peterson (Eerdmans) $18.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19
You may know Peterson’s magnum opus, in a way, his magisterial five part “Spiritual Theology” series. It starts with one of my all time favorite titles, Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places published in 2004; Eat This Book is the second in the series although certainly stands alone and is perhaps the best-seller of the five. In it Pastor Pete engages us in a conversation, really, where he talks about reading the Bible, the nature of sentences, even, exegesis, Bible translations, lectio divina, the nature of language, and the like. Lauren Winner says of it,
“Deep, stirring, luminous, even profound — if you are going to read one book about reading Scripture, it should be this one.”
At the heart are three major chapters where he at once makes reading the Bible a bit easier, less complicated, even as he reminds us it is, as he puts it, uncongenial. In several good sections under each he deftly moves from “Scripture as Text” to “Scripture as Form” and on to “Scripture as Script.” Although you’ll love the opening one, “The Holy Family at Table with Holy Scripture.” He tells stories ancient and new, nothing sensational, just common folks spending a lifetime in the Word.
By the way, I hope you know his powerful and important quartet, considered the “vocational holiness” series by the late great Peterson. Designed for serious reading for serious clergy people who want to get back to basics, the four books are Peterson perhaps at his very best. I’m not a clergy person, of course, yet I adored these four volumes. They include Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, Working the Angles, Under the Unpredictable Plant and, finally, the The Contemplative Pastor. All are about the formation of the working pastor and that come back, time and again, to Scripture. To eating the book, as his later volume put it.
It may be that Working the Angles is the most fundamental of all. It is the shortest of the four, I think. It shows that, for Peterson, the heart of a pastor’s vocational holiness is to work the angles of three things — teaching people to pray, to read the Bible, and to receive spiritual direction from others. As a review in The Clergy Journal back in the day put it, “Get the angles right and the lines — preaching, teaching, and administration — will take care of themselves.” It is very much about reading, praying, and using the Bible in pastoral work.
For those who don’t feel right reading over the shoulder of a book that their pastor should read, the lovely Eat This Book: A Conversation in the Art of Spiritual Reading is a fabulous choice. All of Peterson’s many books are Biblical, but Working the Angles and Eat This Book spell out much of his most basic notions of how and why to read and pray and imbibe the Word of God.
The Bible Unwrapped: Making Sense of Scripture Today Meghan Larissa Good (Herald Press) $17.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.39
For those who want a lively and upbeat and clever and really useful introduction to how to read the Bible well, influenced maybe a bit by Pete Ends, Walter Brueggemann, and N.T.Wright (amounts others) this just sings. It avoids the extremes of fundamentalist wooden readings and yet calls us to understand it well — using insights from the likes of Ken Bailey and Michael Gorman. As it says on the back cover,
Good delves into issues like biblical authority, literary genre, and Christ-centered hermeneutics and calls readers beyond knee-jerk biblicism on one hand or skeptical disregard on the other.
I love that she calls us to a spiritually alive and intellectually credible communal discernment. She’s convinced there can be “deep and transformative wonder” about Scripture.
The Bible Unwrapped bears untold gifts…Do not let this unique gift pass by unopened and unenjoyed. — Leonard Sweet, scholar, speaker, author, Rings of Fire: Walking in Faith Through a Volcanic Future
How (Not) To Read the Bible: Making Sense of the Anti-Women, Anti-Science, Pro-Violence, Pro-Slavery and Other Crazy-Sounding Parts of Scripture Dan Kimball (Zondervan Reflective) $19.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.99
There are now bunches of books like this. Some are quite scholarly, some a bit goofy, some written out of exceptionally punctilious views of the inerrancy of Scriptures and some that are, if you ask me, dismissing way to much of the authority of Scripture. There is no doubt that we always need newly fresh answers to this age-old question — see, for instance, Paul Copan’s apologetic in Is God a Moral Monster? and its new followup coming in October, Is God a Vindictive Bully? I appreciate and recommend for basic readers the good books by David Lamb, such as his little classic, God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist and Mark Strauss’s companion to it, Jesus Behaving Badly:The Puzzling Paradoxes of the Man from Galilee. I could go on.
This recent book by the energetic and hip church planter with a sense of humor, Dan Kimball, is really excellent for those who haven’t studied the serious stuff. The print isn’t too tiny, there’s some charts and stuff, lots of (ironically dumb) pictures, and it has interesting, and even funny quotes through-out. It isn’t funny, but the first epigram is by magic man Penn Jilette (the talkative one of Penn & Teller) who says, dead seriously, “Reading the Bible is the fast track to atheism.” Is it so?
Many who are walking away from the faith, or deconstructing long-held beliefs, are doing so in part because they just can’t stomach some of the awful stuff of the Bible. If you’ve not been tempted to renounce our high regard for Scripture, maybe you’re not studying God’s Word that much, or you have an undeveloped moral sensibility. Keep at it, though, as God works on you and you become more Christ-like, you will at least wonder about some of this. You must!
As I say, there are more profound and more detailed studies, but this is a good place to start. With plenty of footnotes it’s just our 300 pages. Good paper and two color ink, makes it nice to handle. There’s a sic-session DVD, too, with Dan and his neo-punk haircut, walking you through some of this good material.
Don’t trust me? With recommending blurbs by Margaret Feinberg, rocker David Crowder, and the brilliant Tim Mackie (of the Bible Project videos), it’s obviously a solid start. Scot McKnight says it is “a book full of theological wisdom and pastoral care for honest Bible readers who have genuine and difficult questions about the Bible.”
Holy Imagination: A Literary and Theological Introduction to the Whole Bible Judy Fentress-Williams (Abingdon) $39.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $31.99
There are intro to the Bible books which I most typically recommend. I’m sure you’ve seen me highlight The Drama of Scripture: Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story by Craig Bartholomew & Michael Goheen over and over. The easier, shorter version (maybe even good for bright high schoolers) is The True Story of the Whole World: Finding Your Place in the Biblical Drama. I adore Bartholomew’s little The 30-Minute Bible: God’s Story for Everyone, co-written by the extraordinary Bible teacher Paige Vanosky. I’m very glad that NavPress released the introductions to each book of the Bible in Peterson’s The Message as The Invitation: A Simple Guide to the Bible. For a cool young person who is an earnest seeker, I love The Big Story: How the Bible Makes Sense Out of Life by Justin Buzzard. These are my go-to volumes, recommended any time I get the chance.
However, if somebody wants a major volume, a hefty and wondrously-written seminary textbook, this is increasingly the one I think of. Dr. Judy Fentress-Williams is professor of Old Testament at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria (and before that taught at Hartford Seminary in CT.) She has a commentary on the book of Ruth, too. But this. Wow.
We have only sold a few of these but it is one of those rare books that each time we’ve sent one, the customer voluntarily replied to us later thanking us for selling it to them. How about that? They so loved it, found so much of worth, that they wanted us to recommend it to others.
“Studying Scripture demands dialogue” it says on the back. In fact, one of the assumptions of Holy Imagination is that “the many voices in Scripture form a dialogue with readers, which produces theological truths that are larger than the individual parts.” Yes, we must know the context, social and otherwise. We must read literarily. But there is theology, emerging from the genres and how the literary characteristics and theological insights merge.
Like good poetry, we must pay attention. As with poetry, we must use our minds and our imaginations, which, in turn, are shaped by the text itself. As she puts it, “we return again and again, with more information and perhaps more experiences. The words are the same, but we are not; for that reason there are always new discoveries.”
At last, an introduction that students will enjoy reading, because it is at once engaging, informative, and eye-opening, as well as completely lucid. Fentress-Williams shows how many books of the Bible reflect the experience of marginalized persons and communities in precarious situations, and therefore how they speak in ways both realistic and encouraging to contemporary readers. Do your students and yourself a favor: adopt this text and get ready for serious conversation about ancient texts that never go out of date. – Ellen F. Davis,Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology, Duke Divinity School, author of Getting Involved with God: Rediscovering the Old Testament, Opening Israel’s Scriptures, and Scripture, Culture, and Agriculture: An Agrarian Reading of the Bible
God’s People Made New: How Exploring the Bible Together Launched Church’s Spirit-Filled Future Rachael J. Powell (Fortress Press) $18.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $15.19
Many of our best customers are members of mainline denominational churches — once thriving Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopal or United Methodist, say, and they have been in steep decline in membership for decades, now. Naturally, they are all seeking ways to steward this new time and new era in their own respective lives, and, many, insist (rightly, I think) that one of the causes of the crisis a few generations ago was a lackluster sense of Biblical authority and therefore a significant decline in Biblical literary. Data suggests, I’m told, that seeker sensitive community churches and many fundamentalist churches, even, are now walking that same dumb ground, failing to equip the community to be people of the Book.
This recent book, published by the ELCA press, is about this very thing. Written mostly as a memoir, actually, God’s People Made New tells the story of Pastor Rachael’s valiant effort to reintroduce her congregation in Albuquerque, to the glories and complexities of Bible study and the good trouble that can come from that.
Here is how the publisher explains it:
“Through the voices of congregants living in crisis and hope, creative investigation of biblical texts, and solid, accessible theological reflection, Rachael J. Powell offers hope for congregations.” They continue hoping that, “Readers will appreciate Powell’s wise pastoral companionship through the often exasperating yet life-giving process of helping a congregation discern who and what they are called to be.”
This is a simple notion — the Word of God matters. She “probes and celebrates” (as David Lose puts it) “the transformation we can expect when we all God’s word to breathe new life and purpose into God’s people,”
I suppose this book could equally go on a list about congregational life and church renewal. Powells gets us there, by teaching us (with concrete tools) how to be empowered to hear God’s Word well. And, yes, preacher that she is, she calls on preachers to “claim their role in this powerful work.”
Five Things Biblical Scholars Wish Theologians Knew Scot McKnight (with a foreword by Hans Boersma) (IVP Academic) $20.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00
I’ve highlighted this before and, with its companion volume (see below) it’ a real winner. I know most common folks aren’t that interested in this in-house debate in the faith-based academy and in seminaries, but, you know, it’s important, and pretty fun. How illuminating to learn why Bible profs (like McKnight) want theologians to get in line, learn some stuff from them, and back off their fancy pants insistence that they hold the keys to the Kingdom. I’m being more pushy about all this than the gracious McKnight is, but, well, that’s what the book is about. Five things everybody should know, but that theological types should take to heart. Get it! We need this reminder, believe me.
Five Things Theologians Wish Biblical Scholars Knew Hans Boersma (with a foreword by Scot McKnight) (IVP Academic) $20.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $16.00
Okay, as I’ve said before (and, well, see above) this book, with its companion volume, is a real winner. I know most common folks aren’t that interested in this in-house debate in the faith-based academy and in seminaries, but, you know, it’s important, and pretty fun. How illuminating to learn why theological professors (like Boersma) want Bible teachers to get in line, learn some stuff from them, and back off their fancy pants insistence that they hold the keys to the Kingdom. I’m being more pushy about all this than the gracious Boersma is, but, well, that’s what the book is about. Five things everybody should know, but that Bible lovers should take to heart. Get it! We need this input, believe me.
Returning from the Abyss: Pivotal Moments in the Book of Jeremiah Walter Brueggemann (WJK) $18.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $14.40
Maybe you will recall my lavish praise on the first, and then the second, book in this ongoing set of adult Bible studies, short commentaries that focus on pivotal moments in the text when much changes. The first two volumes in the series (both also by Brueggemann) were on the much loved but rarely studied exodus narratives and the following desert satires about manna and Sinai.
The titles of those two are evocative: Delivery Out of Empire: Pivotal Moments in the Book of Exodus and Delivered into Covenant: Pivotal Moments in the Book of Exodus.
This new, third one in the series, Returning from the Abyss, is spectacular and accesible, even if it has 27 (short) chapters. Twenty-seven key, even pivotal moments in Jeremiah, eh? You got it. This is just remarkable, fascinating, even, and very usable. There are a few pithy questions after each chapter, making it easy to us. Very highly recommended.
The Lord Roars: Recovering the Prophetic Voice for Today M. Daniel Carroll R. (Baker Academic) $24.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.99
I’m not going to lie — it was this new title that made me want to share titles of recent interest about Biblical studies. It may be the most important and lasting new book on this list — just a stellar brand new title that deserves to be shouted about.
The Lord Roars is complex and a bit academic, but any committed, educated reader can work through it. It was, after all, a set of lectures given, fleshed out a bit. The question on the table is how to hear prophets, whether they are alive today, in some generic sense, but, more specifically, how to hear and appropriate wisely the voices of the Hebrew prophets from the Bible. Danny Carroll taught at Denver Seminary and a few years moved over to the Old Testament department at Wheaton College. He is a passionate speaker, a prolific writer (about the Bible and about immigration issues — most recently see his Bible and Borders.) He is scholar of the prophets (having done a major work on Amos in the prestigious NICOT series.) We admire him immensely and anticipated this book, which arrived less than week ago. I dove right in.
The book announces that it offers “a new way to encounter the prophets” but I’ve not quite figured out what is utterly new. It is fresh and compelling and important. The world today “cries out for a prophetic word to the chaos, unrest, and destructiveness of our times.” Perhaps this book will at least inspire and motivate, if not equip and train many to hear the Word of the Lord.
Dr. Carroll R. (the letter at the end stands for Roeda, his Guatemalan grandmother’s last name) highlights three key ethical concerns of the Old Testament prophets (and he is surely not wrong in this) — injustice, worship, and hope. He shows how they can speak into our world, how we can be trained to be taken up in their questions.
The Lord Roars reminds me vividly of a line I read as a teenager in a book given to me by a friend, a book of poem/prayers by Malcom Boyd in which the priest said that we may read the prophets in church but we wouldn’t recognize one if he were to sit down beside us, which struck me immediately to be obviously true. Many in my circles disregarded, for instance, Dr. Martin Luther King or Ceasar Chavez, to offer two important examples. But the thing is, Boyd was wrong: we didn’t read the Old Testament much, let alone the prophets, in our churches. In college as I was agitating for better working conditions and wages for mostly Chicano farm workers, an evangelical mentor told me I should read Amos. I’m not even sure I even knew who that was, let alone that he was a “farmer from Tekoa.” To this day, I thank Marilyn Phillips Slemenda and Jennie Korn Geisler for how they pushed me towards the prophets so many years ago.
Now, you can capture not only the heart of the prophets by way of this up-to-date scholar, and his set of important lectures but you can learn to really hear them — apply them, we might say. Or at least be captured by the themes that captured them, including a passion for justice, knowing deeply how failure to love God rightly almost always leads to failure to love neighbor. Yet, given this tragic situation — played out today, still, of course — can there be hope. Indeed, perhaps the most audacious message of the prophets is that there is hope.
The Lord Roars expertly taps three key texts from Amos, Isaiah, and Micah. This is the Word of the Lord, people. Please read these wise recommendations.
Perhaps some of us employ the adjective prophetic hastily or uncritically, but many more of us are reluctant to heed the words of prophets — even the prophets identified in the Bible. Carroll demonstrates why and how biblical prophets speak to a myriad of social issues, including many that we presently face. His rigorous exegesis, historical analysis, and cultural awareness converge to give Bible readers a better understanding of Scripture’s prophetic tradition and how it applies right now. — Dennis R. Edwards, North Park Theological Seminary, Might from the Margins: The Gospel’s Power to Turn the Tables on Injustice
Carroll, easily one of our best scholars and teachers on the prophets, offers a concise and erudite — indeed, idea l— introduction to these all-important messengers of God. Carroll focuses on selected texts from Amos, Isaiah, and Micah while at the same time engaging everything from Don Quijote and Charles Dickens to immigration, the Inquisition, liberation theology, and much, much more. A masterful treatment. — Brent A. Strawn, Duke University, author The Old Testament Is Dying: A Diagnosis and Recommended Treatment
The Lord Roars has helped me see how the prophetic imagination in the canonical biblical text can orient my motivations to see theologically and work ethically toward a better world. From a hermeneutic of trust, Carroll invites the reader to carefully consider what the word of God offers as a witness to a more just and less violent world conceived through theo-poetic justice. Manifestly, Carroll’s proposal challenges today’s Westernized Christian visions of a world trapped in left-wing and right-wing political ideologies. — Oscar García-Johnson, Fuller Theological Seminary
Abraham’s Silence: The Binding of Isaac, The Suffering of Job, and How to Talk Back to God J. Richard Middleton (Baker Academic) $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59
I know I’ve promoted this before and I know that some may find it curious but I am telling you, this is one you really should consider. If you want to stay alive to God’s speaking through His Word and you are interested in the most plausible and faithful reading in light of what we know to be true about God and His ways, this, simply, is a must-read. As Brueggemann says of it, it is Bible “interpretation at its most daring and at its best.”
As you might surmise from the title, this carefully argued and very (very) Bible-drenched study says, finally, given what we know about Job and lament and God’s law and covenant, Abraham should have said no! Richard makes a very compelling case that we have misread and misapplied the story of the binding of Isaac. “God desires more than silent obedience in difficult times.” Wow. This is amazing and the implications are vast.
There are blurbs on the back from serious Bible scholars, for Rabbi Irving(Yitz) Greenberg (the President the Greenberg Institute for the Advancement of Jewish Life) and this from Carmen Joy Imes of Biola (see her excellent Bearing God’s Name: Why Sinai Still Matters) and the often cited (here, at least) Jamie Smith of Calvin:
In this groundbreaking work, Middleton dares to question Abraham’s unquestioning obedience in Genesis 22. His approach is robustly biblical-theological, but his outside-the-box thinking offers an intriguing new solution to two interpretive puzzles: the binding of Isaac and the testing of Job. The pastoral implications of this book make it a must-read for pastors and biblical scholars alike. — Carmen Joy Imes, Biola University, Bearing God’s Name
I have been learning from Middleton for over twenty-five years. From him I learned that, in the Bible itself, God invites our questions and doubts. He showed me–through the Psalms and Job — that lament is faithful. This marvelous book exhibits the singular combination that is Richard Middleton: a deep and broad attunement to the Scriptures and a keen philosophical sensibility, both wed to a profoundly pastoral concern. A gift for both church and academy. — James K. A. Smith, Calvin University, You Are What You Love
Voices Long Silenced: Woman Biblical Interpreters Through the Centuries Joy A, Schroeder & Marion Ann Taylor (WJK) $40.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $32.00
Let’s get down to brass tacks: if we want to hear the Word in all its prophetic power, we need all hands on deck. We need a community of interpreters, lots of voices, lots of teachers. Obviously, in the history of the church and too often even today, women’s voices are marginalized, if not silenced. This is changing, and this volume is a good illustration of how things are opening up. Joy Schroeder and Marion Ann Taylor have — as Wilda Gafney, professor of Hebrew Bible at Brite Divinity School says, “gifted us” with a long survey of women’s biblical interpretation and it is “an extraordinary collection and will be invaluable in the classroom.” But it is not just for the classroom. As Jaime Clark-Soles (New Testament prof at Perkins School of Theology) says, “I am awestruck by this book.”
As Jaimie Clark-Soles continues, importantly:
Spanning centuries from antiquity to today, it features female scriptural interpreters from across the globe from different denominational, class, cultural, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. Joining them, the reader sojourns through history, learning the names and work of the interpreters, the historical and political contexts in which they operated, the methods they used to interpret, and why it is essential for us to engage their work if we truly desire a faithful rendering of our religious history. I cannot overstate the importance of this book or how rewarding it is to read—not a single wasted word. —Jaime Clark-Soles, Professor of New Testament and Distinguished Teaching Professor, Perkins School of Theology
Reading While Black: African American Biblical Interpretation as an Exercise in Hope Esau McCaulley (IVP Academic) $22.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $17.60
What an honor it was top be one of the first stores to have this when it came out late in 2019 (having an official publication date of early 2020.) We have been with Dr. McCaulley on two occasions and know him to be a solid guy, exceptionally well-education (in Scotland under N.T. Wright, itself a bit of story as a black Anglican there.) Now teaching at Wheaton College (and sending in the occasional well-crafted op-ed piece to the New York Times) McCaulley’s book has earned the status of being a major contribution to both black studies and Biblical studies.
We carry a number of books about how people of color have historically understood and taught the Bible. This, though, is simply the best of the best, hard-hitting and prophetic, yet measured and fair. A few have dismissed him, but many have been blessed by his good work and we are glad for this book. It is very, very highly recommended.
(Look for a small book coming from him later this fall, releasing in early November called Lent: The Season of Repentance and Renewal. It will sell for $20.00 but pre-orders will get our BookNotes 20% off, making it $16.00 It is the first in a series heis editing called “Fullness of Time.”)
The New Creation and the Storyline of Scripture Frank Thielman (Crossway) $15.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $12.79
We carry all the little books in the serious-minded, “Short Studies in Biblical Theology” which makes the riches of what is called “Biblical theology” available to ordinary readers. This angle invites to ponder the interconnectedness of the big, unfolding story of God and the way themes and notions relate. It’s a great way to see how — as Sally Lloyd Jones puts it in her lovely children’s Bible inspired by this worldview — “every chapter whispers His name.”
This is a good one to start with, but try others in the series such as Covenant and God’s Purpose for the World by Thomas Schreiner; The City of God and the Goal of Creation by Desmond Alexander; From Chaos to Cosmos: Creation to New Creation by Sidney Greidanus, The Serpent and the Serpent Slayer by Andrew David Naselli, or Redemptive Reversals and the Ironic Overturning of Human Wisdom by Gregory Beale.
For those who like this series, there are two new ones coming in October that you could pre-order: Resurrection Hope and the Death of Death by Mitchell Chase and The Sabbath as Rest and Hope for the People of God by Guy Prentiss Waters., both which will sell for $17.99, but at 20% off they will each be $14.39.
Exodus Old and New: A Biblical Theology of Redemption L. Michael Morals (IVP Academic) $24.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.20
We carry all the titles in the Essential Studies in Biblical Theology (ESBT) series edited by Benjamin Gladd. These books do almost scholarly, but quite readable, if detailed study of “central or essential themes of the Bible’s grand storyline” and this one is excellent, if a bit. This ongoing series is limited and seem to be nearly interrelated- they are highly recommended. And we think each enliven our understanding of the whole, and, of course, unlock precious insights into the organic unfolding drama of the whole Bible.
See, also, just for instance, Face to Face with God: A Biblical Theology of Christ as Priest and Mediator by Desmond Alexander; God Dwells Among Us: A Biblical Theology of the Temple by G.K. Beale; The Path of Faith: A Biblical Theology of Covenant and Law by Brandon Crowe; Rebels and Exiles: A Biblical Theology of Sin and Restoration by Matthew Harmon; From Adam and Israel to the Church: A Biblical Theology of the People of God by Benjamin Gladd.
If you like this series and want to keep up, the next one coming arrives in early November and will be called The Hope of Life After Death: A Biblical Theology of Resurrection by Belhaven University scholar Jeff Bannon ($24.00.) You can pre-order it now, of course at our 20% off, making it $19.20.
Whenever we suggest interesting books about the Bible and how to read it well, the question of commentaries comes up. The needs of different sorts of customers are diverse and we suggest things as basic as the Warren Weirsbe easy-to-read “Be” series to the higher-end, scholarly (and expensive) NICOT and NICNT, Pillar, the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament or other academic tomes. Each series has its own stellar ones; for instance, see the outstanding one on Acts by Willie James Jennings in the series Belief: A Theological Commentary on the Bible (WJK; $40.00) or the Luke volume in that series by Justo Gonzalez (WJK; $45.00.) Many preachers like it when we suggest the solid, useful NIV Application Commentary series published by Zondervan and most are really great. I hope you know the ongoing Story of God commentary series edited by Tremper Longman and Scot McKnight — they are so interesting, fresh, insightful and yet easy to use. I think the series we recommend the most for most folks is the exceptionally useful, paperback Bible Speaks Today series by IVP. Every volume has the phrase “The Message of…” and they are all tremendous, even with discussion questions in the back, which is rare for a commentary. And, for really succint insight, don’t forget the compact sized, Old Testament for Everyone by John Goldingay and the New Testament for Everyone ones by N.T. Wright.
When useful and moving (!) academic commentaries come up, we always suggest the big two volume set by Frederick Dale Bruner, previously known as The Christ Book and The Church Book but now just called Matthew: A Commentary Volume One and Matthew: A Commentary Volume Two (Eerdmans; $41.99 and $46.99, respectively.) He also has a big one on John (The Gospel of John: A Commentary) which also offers his warm and wise and even profound scholarly but accessible insights. He released a smaller one a year ago on Romans.
four ON ROMANS
The Letter to the Romans: A Short Commentary Frederick Dale Bruner (Eerdmans) $26.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $21.59
Well, when one of our great scholars known for writing expert commentaries sets out to do a brief study of Romans (in just about 200 pages) we should pay attention. How fortunate the students at Whitworth University have been to have a professor like this in their lives!
“In this short commentary Bruner offers a clear, accessible interpretation of Paul’s account of our deep need of the Gospel and God’s loving provision in Christ. Illumined by a rich array of commentators throughout history, ample biblical cross references, and in language that grabs the heart, Bruner focuses on God’s offer of salvation as sheer gift. Mercifully free of jargon and arcane scholarly debate, but filled with contemporary allusions, the book is perfect for small Bible studies or adult education classes.” — William A. Dyrness, Fuller Theological Seminary
“This commentary on the premier exposition of the gospel comes from one of America’s premier expositors of the gospel. Dale Bruner’s translation of Romans is fresh and clever, his exposition of Romans is disarmingly straightforward and insightful, and his personal testimonies at key passages illustrate the relevance of Romans for modern readers. This is not a solo commentary on Romans, however, for Bruner enlists testimonies from the Gospels and the confessions of the church to complement Paul’s liberating message, and throughout the commentary he introduces readers to the best insights of the best commentators on what he calls ‘the Fifth Gospel.’” — James R. Edwards, Whitworth University
“Bruner’s two massive treatments of Matthew and John are treasured in the church as reliable, inspiring, comprehensive studies. After a decade of further study, Bruner has done it again. This shorter study of Romans—which Bruner calls the Fifth Gospel—is once more a lucid, well-informed explanation of Paul’s premier letter. Good commentaries explain the text in its original form, provide theological insight into the text’s meaning and value, and then help us make use of the text for our living today. Bruner gets high marks in all three in a casual, personal format that is the hallmark of all his writing.” — Gary M. Burge, Calvin Theological Seminary
Romans: A Theological & Pastoral Commentary Michael J. Gorman (Eerdmans) $39.99 OUR SALE PRICE = $31.99
It is hard to explain the significance of the unassuming servant leader that is Mike Gorman, but his many books are all exceptionally esteemed and he is, simply an author you should know. (To understand his influence, realize that there is, for instance, a book about his work which I raved about a while ago done in tribute to and in conversation with his notions of cruciformity. It is called Cruciform Scripture: Cross, Participation, and Mission edited by Christopher W. Skinner, Nijay K. Gupta, Andy Johnson, Drew J. Strait (Eerdmans; $35.00.)) Professor Gorman, who teaches at the fabulous Ecumenical Institute at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore, has a short, basic book on Revelation, several books on Paul, one heady one on John, and more. (And he’s writing again, so next year might see yet another New Testament commentary!)
In this, his most recent, which we announced back in the winter, Gorman offers a serious discussion of Romans, theological (that is, not mere Greek exegesis) and yet, as the title puts it, “pastoral.” I’m not exactly sure what that word connotes for you, but it suggests some practical, formational sensibilities, and I don’t disagree. It is, as Craig Keener says, “theologically rich as well as spiritual inviting and edifying.”
Michael Gorman’s commentary on Romans faithfully illuminates the Apostle Paul’s complex proclamation of the gospel. While carefully explaining different possible interpretations, Gorman sets forth his own powerful reading of the letter: that it is a proclamation of the life-giving, life-transforming justice of God, as well as an urgent invitation to participate in the new community created by the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Gorman, a master teacher, provides a rich historical and theological exposition, never losing sight of the question of what matters for Christian communities today. This commentary belongs on the desk of everyone whose vocation is to preach and teach the gospel.” — Richard B. Hays, Duke University
Michael Gorman is that rare scholar of eminent distinction who is willing to read the Pauline letters as Christian scripture. His approach is ecumenically sensitive, appealing to what Protestants and Catholics hold in common. And his analysis reprises the great themes for which he is justly famous: participation, cruciformity, transformation, and mission. Widely accessible, this commentary will be useful (on the one hand) to scholars, teachers, and preachers, and (on the other) to interested lay readers. — Scott Hahn, Franciscan University of Steubenville
Michael Gorman’s commentary on Romans shows why he is recognized as one of the most distinguished Pauline scholars in America today. Written for a wider audience, it explains the pastoral, theological, and spiritual dimensions of Paul’s most important letter for the church of our day. Eminently readable, always insightful, this commentary accomplishes what few have done: it makes Paul’s message accessible and relevant to the lives of everyday believers. — Frank J. Matera, The Catholic University of America
Not Ashamed of the Gospel: Sermons from Paul’s Letters to the Romans Fleming Rutledge (Eerdmans) $24.50 OUR SALE PRICE = $19.60
Many know dear Fleming, a long-standing Episcopal priest, working theologian and preacher, most recently from her stunning collection of seasonal sermons in the must-have Advent: The Once and Future Coming of Jesus Christ and her major work, Crucifixion. She has two smaller collection sermons on Good Friday . Many love her Battle for Middle Earth and her magisterial Undoing of Death, Lenten (and some Easter) sermons. There are others, including the recent collection of 52 great sermons, arranged as a once-a-week devotional called Means of Grace. We admire her so much and we’re glad she’s working on yet another manuscript. Pray for her!
Not so many customers order from us her lovely and inspiring and sometimes challenging collection of sermons on Romans, the epistle she calls “theological dynamite.” With dozens and dozens of sermons, this is over 400 pages and is itself dynamite. Highly recommended.
Romans Disarmed: Resisting Empire, Demanding Justice Sylvia C. Keesmaat and Brian J. Walsh (Brazos) $29.00 OUR SALE PRICE = $23.20
This. Wow. Amazing! I’ve reviewed Romans Disarmed more than once and have commended on it often, in part because of its verve and creative energy and in part because of how very compelling it is. It stands in the great tradition of their interactive, conversational, but deeply informed Colossians Remixed but offers even more — fictional characters, longer excursions into indigenous people’s sorrows, climate change, resisting the homogenizing influences of consumer culture — all deeply connected to the story of Paul’s letter to the conflicted and ethnically divided first century house churches in Rome, there under the boot heel of the ironically named Pax Romana.
If you want to understand any of the New Testament, this playful but very detailed (just see the footnotes!) study helps put us there, right there. Sylvia earned her PhD in New Testament under NT Wright years ago and has deepened in her powerful exegesis but also in her creative storytelling. She and her hubby Brian take seriously the social context of first century Rome, the injustices, the radical implications of the enslaved being in sibling relationship with the rich and powerful who “owned” them — or didn’t, as the gospel insisted. You want deconstruction? Whew. I dare you to read this. Gather in the kitchen of the home to listen to this letter from this guy named Paul and feel the tension, the struggle, the hardships and joy. Realize the importance of the women and men named near the end of the epistle and get this new perspective on Paul and his liberating message or real life redemption and the ethic of resistance to the forces of violence around us.
Their study goes paragraph by paragraph with creative paraphrases and plenty of historical and contemporary cultural studies and radical application. They cite their colleagues N.T. Wright, Richard Hays, Michael Gorman, Chad Meyers and Elsa Tamez, but also Wendell Berry and Steve Bouma-Prediger and edgy social and political activists, all side by side. This is a true commentary, a handbook on contemporary discipleship, an argument for a life and lifestyle of utter grace. Agree or not with all of its conclusions, I cannot imagine a better book, if you are willing, to get you excited about the contemporary relevance of the gospel of Christ’s Kingdom and the subversive imagination it creates in communities that take the Bible seriously.
Sylvia and Brian are two of my favorite Bible scholars. Whether you’re over-churched or under-churched, they stir in you a fresh curiosity for the Bible. This new book is perfect for scholars and new Bible readers alike, and for everyone in between. They rescue one of the most misused books of the Bible from the hands of colonizers and crusaders. And they help us listen with first-century ears to the anti-imperial love story of Romans. — Shane Claiborne, activist and author, Jesus for President
If you want to hear–and experience–Paul’s letter to the Jewish and gentile Christ-followers in Rome as you never have, read this book. And re-read it. Study it in your church circles. Talk about it with your friends. Assign it in your courses. As with their earlier Colossians Remixed, Keesmaat and Walsh have once again interwoven close textual reading of the New Testament (they clearly love the Scriptures!) with its unabashedly Jewish roots and its explosive relationship to the Roman imperial context. Most importantly, they bring the message of Romans into dialogue with our lives today, as we struggle to be faithful to the good news of Messiah Jesus in our own imperial context. — J. Richard Middleton, professor of biblical worldview and exegesis, Northeastern Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College, author of Abraham’s Silence
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Bewondering God’s Dumbfounding Doings: God Talking to Us Little People in the Final Book of the Bible Calvin G. Seerveld (Padia Press) $15.00 FREE with any purchase while supplies last
I wrote about this with great gusto in a heart-felt review I did when it first came out. It is a handsome paperback (with nice paper and a bit of art) and offers a handful of sermons Cal preached on the book of Revelation. He’s astute and allusive, creative and majestic, even as he humbly guides the listeners at Toronto CRC into the God’s speaking, alive and well.
Cal got us some for cheap and we’re happily offering this as a premium thank you gift for those of you reading BookNotes carefully and sending us orders. There’s a great endorsing blurb on the inside by Scott Hoezee, himself a great worship leader and preacher. Enjoy!
As always, if you are ordering more than one title, and one is a pre-order, it is helpful if you say whether you want them sent together, later, or if we should ship one now and one later. You know the drill — tell us how to serve you best. Thanks.
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It is complicated for us, but we are still closed for in-store browsing due to our commitment to public health (not to mention the safety of our staff and customers.) The vaccination rate here in York County is sadly lower than average and the new variant is now spreading; rates are rising seriously. Our store is a bit cramped without top-notch ventilation so we are trying to be wise and faithful.
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