Since I’m still going through scholastic withdrawals, I’ve picked up several books to read over the next couple weeks and/or months. I’m still working on several books from my previous reading list(s), but little by little, I think I’ve made some room for a few more. And since I seem to read more attentively when reading several instead of only one, I’m hoping these will prove fruitful in the long run.
Below is a list of four books that were all released this year. Three of them seem to have the potential of overlapping in subject matter while the other seems it will remain in its own category. I’m presenting them here mostly to invite discussions and feedback as I go through them. I’m hoping for several posts about each.
Peter Enns: The Evolution of Adam: What the Bible Does and Doesn’t Say About Human Origins
Technically I’ve already started this one. However, work got crazy busy at one point and before I knew it, it was an entire month before I picked it up again. So, with the spring rain keeping me indoors, I’ve decided to restart Enns’ new work.
I’ve never read anything from Peter Enns except for a couple blog posts. If he writes in this book like he does on his blog, I think I’m in for a treat. For starters, I believe he has a refreshing view on inerrancy (as well as his colleagues). Secondly, he seriously considers cultural context – this I remember from when I first began this book. Where I left off the first time was when he was describing the various names for God in the book of Genesis. As I’ve read in John J. Collins’ Intro to the Hebrew Bible, these different names suggest the possibility of different sources compiled together to produce the one book of Genesis (or the several books of the Torah). It’ll be interesting to see where Enns goes from here.
John Dominic Crossan: The Power of Parable: How Fiction by Jesus Became Fiction about Jesus
I’m not so sure I like the subtitle; seems to be stretching something too far. But I’m looking forward to how he presents it. I appreciated his collective work with Marcus Borg in The First Paul, so there might be a few gems to find in here. Although, after reading the summary on the back of the cover, I’m a little uneasy regardless of what I’ve read from Crossan before. “Crossan also shows how [the] four gospel writers ended up undermining Jesus’ true message of God’s kingdom – that of bring peace and justice for all.” It remains to be determined whether Crossan believes the writers did this as a side product or as something intentional – as something they had set out to do all along. Extra care will be required for this one.
Bart D. Ehrman: Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth
I’ve written rather negatively about Ehrman in the past, but I’ve also written positively about him, too. Overall, I disagree with many of his conclusions, but yet greatly appreciate his critiques. What he wrote in Misquoting Jesus reaffirmed my distaste for inerrancy arguments while directing my faith toward God rather than a doctrine. I know that he probably did not intend to, but his critiques have really helped to strengthen my faith.
This book seems to be one that might do just that: reaffirm and strengthen my beliefs in God and His son Jesus. One thing I’m aware of, though, is that he isn’t writing for members of the faith. Rather, he seems to be writing on behalf of Bible scholars and historians. Nevertheless, I’m excited to read how one of the more prominent Bible critics of our time defends Jesus’ historicity – that is, how he believes that Jesus actually did live and walk as a real person. Whatever other claims he may or may not make along the way will probably require a dose of salt, but overall I’m eager to read his new book.
N.T. Wright: How God Became King: The Forgotten Story of the Gospels
I get the sense that this is somehow communicating with Crossan’s work in some way. Even if it isn’t, I think both Wright and Crossan will discuss similar passages and have many counterpoints to each other. I’ve read plenty of N. T. Wright and have enjoyed every bit of his works. However, that’s no excuse to turn off a critical mind. In fact, in the scholarly world it’s somewhat of a disgrace if all one does is flatter another’s work rather than question some of the holes. What this simply means is that I must be open to the possibility of disagreeing with Wright on some things.
All in all, I’m very excited for another month or two of reading. Unlike most school terms, everything I read nowadays is entirely of my own choosing. So know that when I’m reading The Hobbit, The Problem of Pain, The Hunger Games, The Sun Also Rises, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, or any of the ones mentioned above (all of which have bookmarks indicating that I’ve at least started to read them), I’m doing so because I want to; not because I have to.
Please do not be afraid to comment or question on any of the posts I write spawning from what I read. In fact, that’s why I’m writing about them now: To provoke discussions about rather controversial issues if only to stir our own thoughts. Who knows, you and I might actually agree on a thing or two.