Right now I am reading through several books. I am finishing up Brevard Childs’ interesting study of the book of Isaiah in which he explores The Struggle to Understand Isaiah as Christian Scripture. This book is part touches on issues of Biblical theology, hermeneutics, patristic theology, history, philology, exegesis, and much more.
On a more practical level, I picked up Michael Lawrence’s newest publication, Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church: A Guide for Ministry. Due to my current course of study, Iam interested to see just how Lawrence treats this important subject. Further, I am planning on attending The IX Marks conference at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary on this very topic in the fall.
I am also getting a chance to sit down with Dave Black’s The Jesus Paradigm. He is one of my favorite professors and bloggers and I expect to be thoroughly challenged as I read this work. While I’m at it, I’d encourage you to pray for Dave and his wife, BeckyLynn, as they travel to Ethiopia. You can read more about their work in Ethiopia at his website.
When people do read today (and they don’t read often), they read almost exclusively for information or content; they almost never read for the pleasure obtained by reading an author whose command of language is exception. Many ministers, for instance, will read the occasional book about history. But with few exceptions, the interest in historical writing resides in the events narrated, not in the skillfulness of the narration…
[Modern readers ask what a] passage is about?… but they don’t raise questions about how the passage is constructed.
— T. David Gordon
I have, both anecdotally and formally, observed this to be the case in reference to the Bible. Most teachers of the Bible are concerned only with the words and principals of the sacred text. There is little concern for the syntax and grammar. Word studies abound with no interest in paragraph structure or the flow of discourse. This sort of textual myopia is further encumbered by a faulty view of much of Scripture regarding the importance of events recorded in the text. John Sailhamer has been influential in cogently explaining the necessity of viewing the intentionally constructed text of Scripture in its final form as the only element worth interpreting. Whatever so-called “event” might “lie behind” the inspired text is of no importance to the Christian interpreter. Rather, one must spend their time understanding how the text of Scripture is intentionally constructed to communicate a message.
As usual I am continually buying and borrowing books. I feel it important, as a Christian, to constantly be reading and learning. One of my goals is to build a modest library as a resource for my faith community. I am always willing to lend out books and other resources I have to those who are interested. Here are few books I have just recently acquired that I am planning to read in the next few weeks.
I recently was the winner of a Dave Black online contest. As a result I am promised a copy of his book, The Jesus Paradigm. Dr. Black (who insists that we call him “Dave,” or “brother”, or something Biblical like that) has been a challenging influence in my life. He is constantly encouraging others to serve Jesus in every area of their life. I am always amazed by his intelligence, humility, godliness, and missionary lifestyle.
Sitting on my shelf is also a copy of Kevin Vanhoozer’s The Drama of Doctrine: A Canonical Linguistic Approach to Christian Theology. This book was very useful to me in seminary. I am looking forward to having my own copy and reading it in its entirety.
Zondervan has been kind enough to send me an advanced copy of Jason Boyett’s newest book, O Me of Little Faith: True Confessions of a Spiritual Weakling, for review. After reading the introduction and first chapter I already have mixed feelings about the work. On one hand I find the vulnerability and honesty admirable, on the other hand there are already serious methodological, theological, and philosophical flaws. I do not want to come to any premature conclusions, so after I finish reading it, I will post a some thoughts.
Another book on my immediate reading list is Christian Smith’s treatise on young adult spirituality, Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults. I am hoping this book will provide some cultural insight into current trends in spirituality. My goal is to gain tools to understand and communicate the gospel to young adults.
Finally, I am giving in to the myriad of recommendations and reading T. David Gordon’s Why Johnny Can’t Preach: The Media Have Shaped the Messengers. I have read recommendations for this book from David Nelson, Kevin DeYoung, J. D. Greear, and many others. I figured I might as well peruse this little paperback and see what all the fuss is about.
I mentioned “Relevant Magazine” in the previous blog post and figured I’d officially give them an unofficial public recommendation. I have been subscribing to Relevant for more than a year now (you can read the mag online for free). I have been consistently impressed by the content and presentation. The magazine is often hilarious, usually objective (sometimes low on discernment), and deeply connected with contemporary culture. Where else can you find articles by John Piper and Rob Bell or Brian MacLaren and Mark Driscoll? Who else offers their thoughts on social justice and premarital sex or the merits of Hip-Hop Judaism or the resurgence of midwestern, basement manufactured synth pop? Exactly. You need some Relevant Magazine in your life!
Anyone interested in “progressive culture” and the views of many young evangelicals would do well to subscribe to this magazine. I promise, you will be “cooler” for it. Further, their website is very impressive with interactive content, streaming music, and a hilarious (occasionally insightful) news “slice” feed. I think my favorite supplement to the bi-monthly magazine publication is the weekly free podcast. The podcast is like listening to a group of friends engaging in random conversation (e.g., punching whalesharks, the impending chimpocalypse, etc.). The podcast also features insightful interviews with Christian personalities, artists, and musicians as well as hilarious listener games and a guide to new music and movie releases. Give it a try!