What's New in the Library?
Library Additions, March 2006
‘Canaanite myths and legends. 2nd ed. 1978. xx, 168p. BO/Can
Excavations between 1929 and 1939 at the site of the ancient city of Ugarit on the north Syrian coast produced tablets with cuneiform text of various kinds in a language akin to Hebrew. The legends in the present collection are very unlike the Bible, though names such as El, Baal and Leviathan ring bells, and similar situations produce similar phraseology, the importance of which the editors tended to exaggerate. The publication of the texts threw a much-needed light on the sort of religion that the invading Israelites confronted and were occasionally tempted by.
Demariaux, J.C. How to understand Hinduism. 1995. ix, 121p. BR/Dem
We begin with the Vedic religion, the parent of Hinduism proper, with its literature, gods doctrine and religious practice. The second part deals with the emergence into prominence of the gods that we are familiar with, such as Vishnu, Shiva and Brahma and Vishnu's avatar Krishna, the growing emphasis on personal religion, with Hinduism in the modern world and interfaith dialogue.
Religion in the Dead Sea Scrolls: essays by various authors. 2000. x, 167p. BR/Rel
These essays by various authors do not attempt to produce a new synthesis, but rather to highlight those aspects of the religious practice of Qumran where the present availability of very many more texts makes modification desirable, namely: God, gods and angels, prayer, Hellenism, biblical interpretation, laws, apocalyptics, and the Qumran messiah. The essays are of varying difficulty.
Disbrey, C. Listening to people of other faiths. 2004. 222p. BZ/Dib
Though books such as Demariaux above are sympathetic to the religion described, they are still written from the outside. Here, for more than half the book, we have insiders speaking. Some we might think of as clergy: a mufti, a rabbi, a Hindu monk; others laity, with or without a specific role in a religious organisation. Though the author usually asks them specific questions, there is a great deal of freedom in the discussions and of enthusiasm in the participants. A very enlightening book.
Day, A.C. Collins thesaurus of the Bible. 2002. 940p. DD(Ref)/Day. ’Confined to the Library'.
“With so many different translations of the Bible in use, a concordance is of little use; nor is there much interest in "texts". This thesaurus deals rather with themes: what does the Bible say about it and where? Like its predecessor but considerably enlarged, it groups the themes Roget-fashion, so that if your first approach does not quite hit the mark, you may well find it under a nearby heading. Unexpectedly, perhaps, all persons and places are entered, alphabetically, in their logical places. Happy hunting!
Barton, J., and Bowden, J. The original story: God , Israel and the world. 2004. xi, 289p. DM/Bar
An introduction to the Old Testament of a modern type, with boxes containing additional material of various kinds, and references to related material elsewhere. The core deals with the main themes of the OT: the character of God; God's relationship to groups of people, especially the Jews; what it is to be human; how we should live; suffering; whether God can be known, and how. This is preceded by a section of necessary orientation, and followed by three more dealing with history, institutions, and how scholars study the OT. Thoroughly well written and friendly.
Aitken, K.T. Proverbs. 1986. x, 264p. (The Daily Study Bible) DN/Prov
Text and commentary are set out in textual order as far as verse 9 and thereafter by topic. (The latter arrangement tends to be frowned on nowadays, as it obscures the fact that even in the collections of proverbs that make up the bulk of the book there are runs of connected material.) Pithy sayings tend at times to be obscure, and in this commentary, part of the Daily Study Bible, they are patiently and helpfully examined with the various interpretations that they have received, so that one can profit from them.
Marshall , I.H. The gospel of Luke: a commentary on the Greek text. 1978. 928p. DV/Luke
Though the detailed verse-by-verse parts of this highly acclaimed commentary, being applied directly to the Greek text, are lost on those who have no Greek, this does not mean that it has nothing to say to them. The gospel narrative is divided into sections and subsections and there are valuable introductions to them which are open to all. So don't be put off.
Ashton, J. Understanding the Fourth Gospel. 1991, repr. 1993. xxii, 599p. DV/
JohnBarrett, C.K. The gospel according to St John . 2nd ed. 1978, repr. 1982. xv, 638p. DV/John
Edwards, R. Discovering John. 2003. (ix), 195p. DV/John
Wright, (N.)T., Bishop. John for everyone. 2 vols. DV/John
Ashton, Barrett, Edwards, Wright: a rainbow of light on the Gospel ofJohn. ’Ashton“ takes a problem-oriented course, and if you are not enamoured of problematics, it might be as well to skip all of pt 1 except the conclusions, and go straight to Ashton's views on where and how the gospel arose and how this shaped it, its characteristic topics and modes of thought, its christology (three chapters), and the evangelist's treatment of the traditions and sources at his disposal.
Barrett is a greatly admired verse-by verse commentary based on the Greek text, with a full introduction. it faces the problems but does not make a meal of them. Those who do not know Greek can still find it useful, quite apart from the introduction. For instance, at 4.24 we find pneuma ho theos in Greek letters; but any Bible at that point will read "God is spirit", and that is what the note is about.
Edwards 'writes an "introduction", but though it contains much expected material, such as the consideration of authorship and composition, sources and audience, and John's distinctive understanding of Christ, has some that are less usual, such as a study of the "characters" in thegospel, and a full and frank discussion of its relation to Judaism and alleged anti-Semitism. It is not didactic, but aims to help readers to think things out for themselves. The final summing up considers the value of John today. "A great boon to all students", says one of Oxford 's many professors.
Tom Wright says at one point: "The Bible is the most fascinating . . . collection of books in the world. . . . But it is possible to allow the study of the text . . . to become a substitute for allowing the text to bring us into the presence of the loving God. . . . This is not to say that we must leave our minds behind when we read the text, and simply have warm feelings about Jesus. Te read the Bible in the light of Jesus the Messiah demands more thought not less, . . . and thought ready to pass . . . into personal knowledge, into adoration, into prayer - - - and then back again." (Not from the introduction, but it sums up the spirit in which he writes this profound exposition of John.)
Hume, C.R. Reading through Romans. 1999. (vii), 232p. DV/Rom
A new translation of Romans, with comments of varying length on some of the words and phrases, those on key words being particularly valuable. In a situation where we are surrounded by tramslations that range from the near word-for-word of the AV to the "dynamic equivalence" of some modern versions (you decide what a block of text means, and express it, we hope, in your own words) this painstaking analysis of what the original text actually says is of considerable value.
Wright, (N.)T., Bishop. Paul for everyone: Romans. 2004. 2 vols. DV/Rom
"I walked through the wood several times before I realized what the signpost meant." A typical Wright beginning. Though the explanations of the short passages into which the epistle is divided might ba thought of as sermons, he never preaches ’at“ you. He is with you, sharing experiences that illuminate the text. So here, when the undergrowth was cleared away, the post read VIEW. A tremendous view. So we go on together to contemplate what Paul has to say about the final redemption together of humanity and the world of nature.
Best, E. A commentary on the First and Second Epistles to the Thessalonians. 1979. xviii, 376p. DV/Thess
In this typical Black's commentary convenient passages of the text are followed by a detailed commentary which brings out the meaning, dealing both with the minutiae of the language, including the Greek and its translation, and with the occasion and purpose of thr letters and the relation of Paul's thinking to what he has to say in other letters. In the introduction Dr Best discusses the relation between the two letters and the disputed authenticity of the second. Appendices deal with the Parousia, Paul's relations with the Thessalonians, and the return of Christ.
Dibelius, M., and Conzelmann, H. The Pastoral Epistles. 1972, repr. 1983. xx, 175p. DV/Tim
A commentary of the same type as the preceding, primarily intended for students. A score of excursuses are included at suitable points in the text, their titles enclosed in a narrowly spaced pair of lines, for instance, on "prayer for the pagan authority" and on Christian citizenship at 1 Tim 2.2, on "presbyter" at 1 Tim 5.17. Quotations are given in the original language but are accompanied by a translation.
Caird, T.B. A commentary on the Revelation of St. John the Divine. 2nd ed. 1984. xvi, 318p. DV/Rev
A more continuous commentary than some of Black's, the passages into which the text is divided being expounded as wholes, without as a rule making a new paragraph at each change of verse. Its aim is to bring out their meaning and place in the whole, and to make the situation meaningful to a modern reader, arguing where necessary with other interpretations. An appendix deals with the theology of Revelation.
Bruce Lockhart, R. Halfway to heaven; the hidden life of the Carthusians. 1999. xx, 171p. FD/Bru
In this ordered and lucid account of the life of the Carthusians Bruce Lockhart goes back to the early Fathers and via the desert and Cassian's writings on monasticism and contemplation to the founding in the 11th c. by St Bruno of a small monastery at La Chartreuse, the spread of the Carthusian way and its history up to today, the way itself and the organisation of the movement. Concluding chapters deal with Carthusian spirituality and contemplation.
Bonhoeffer, D. I stand at the door and knock: the Advent sermons, etc. 2003. 144p. FI/Bon
Though this is described as Bonhoeffer's sermons, its authorship is ascribed to Edwin Robinson. In its way each is true. The sermons, which range in date from 1928 to 1940, are set by Robinson in the context of Bonhoeffer's life and thought and in the circumstances of the time. Bonhoeffer had no opportunity for public speaking after March 1940, and selections from other writings are substituted. In all the work shows how the Advent hope and the Advent challenge can shape our lives.
Ashton, J. The religion of Paul the Apostle. 2000. viii, 261p. FV/Ash
I had been inclined to think that the title should be "The personal religion, etc.", but in fact it is not so restricted as that. Rather, Ashton is concerned with Paul's religious experience in its connexion with his apostleship, "in a search for a religious explanation of Paul's life and letters". In the process he considers whether Paul could be regarded as a shaman, a startling idea until one realises that a shaman need not come from the Arctic, but can be understood as a person with some unusual powers and practices. Though intended "for an educated lay public", the book is somewhat tough going.
Farmer, D.H. The Oxford dictionary of saints. 4th ed. 1997. xxv, 547p. FV/Far
Though we have a number of books of collected Christian biography, we have only one small dictionary of saints, which makes this 4th edition of Farmer very welcome. It is notable for including all English saints (they need not have been born in England ), representative saints of the rest of the British Isles , all other saints of which there is or was a notable cult, and others of importance to the history of the Church. The entries are clear and lively. My favourite is "Gwengustle. See Nonnic."
Perkins, P. Peter, apostle for the whole Church. 2000. vi, 209p. FV/Per
"Peter, that's good. More straightforward than Paul." Don't be too sure. The different pictures we get of Peter in the New Testament are, well, different. So Professor Perkins goes patiently and thoroughly into them, not minimisiing their differences, and supplements this with a consideration of later tradition and with a chapter on the question of the bishopric of Rome . There emerges an "apostle for the whole Church".
The New Testament through 100 masterpieces of art. 2004. 222p. HQ/New
The title calls for a word or two. Debray as a pious Fremch Catholic subsumes the birth, dormition of the Virgin Mary under the NT; "masterpiece" means "work suitable for an art gallery"; and "art" means painting. So it is not all Raphael and Rembrant, so to speak, though 15th and 16th-century Italian and Netherlandish work is prominent. The emphasis is on portraying the NT, with at times surprising results: John the Baptist preaching in a grandiose Hudson River landscape, for instance, or a rich 19th-century Austrian party recreating Dives and Lazarus. All in all, a thought-provoking collection, even if Debray's comments can at times be pedestrian.
McCoy, A. An intelligent persons guide to Christian ethics. 2004. 166p. YA/Mac
One might equally well entitle it "An intelligent Christian's guide to ethics". There is a section entitled "Christian morality", but it is only the last 22 pages out of 157. They are important and they are attractive; but if you are not sure what you mean by "moral", if you agree that it's no use talking about right and wrong unless you are free to act this way rather than that, but don't know what to say to those who tell you that everything is causally determined, and so on, you are not in a position to profit by them. In this short book the foundations are firmly but engagingly laid, with Aquinas to top it all.
Williams, R., Archbishop. The truce of God. 1983. 127p. PAM/HA
Published twenty years ago, this short book is still relevant. The longing for real peace, the sense of helplessness, the rival "solutions" and enticing illusions are still with us. So how are we to find "Christ's peace", given "not as the world gives"? Such are the questions to which an answer is offered here.The
Pemberton almshouses. 2004. 16p. PAM/HE
The Pemberton memorial in the church and the information on the gateway do not take one very far. This booklet, based on Sir Roger Pemberton's will and other records, admirably fills out the picture.
A Note on ‘(N.)T. Wright’
‘Nicholas Thomas Wright writes two sorts of books. In those intended ‘for everyone’ his name is given as ‘Tom’; when he writes for theologians his name appears as N.T.Wright. We always use his full name (it would be awkward to have him in two places in the catalogue), but indicate the difference by using brackets in the case of ‘Tom’ Wright.