In August I was a renegade book reviewer – I read two non-review books! While I do enjoy the book reviewing life and find great joy when I’m told that a review was helpful and/or someone bought a book upon reading my review, the reality is that reviewing takes time – not just the time it takes to craft a review, but also because I read review books more slowly than non-review books. So in August I could no longer resist the desire to just plow through a few books 🙂
- A People’s History of Christianity, One Volume Student Edition – Dennis Janz, ed. This is condensed from a seven-volume series from Fortress Press, and there is also a condensed two-volume version. Unlike most church history texts which focus on the “movers and shakers,” A People’s History of Christianity presents a perspective from the ordinary Christians. All those interested in the history of Christianity should interact somehow with this series because of the unique, cutting edge approach it presents. Full review at Grace for Sinners.
- From Heaven He Came and Sought Her: Definite Atonement in Historical, Biblical, Theological, and Pastoral Perspective – David Gibson and Jonathan Gibson, ed. I finished this book in August, but I had actually started it in June. This volume, like many have been saying, is the definitive resource on definite atonement (more commonly known as “limited atonement”). All who cherish this doctrine need to own this volume. It’s obviously a big book and semi-academic, so some might need to take a long time to get through it, but it will be worth it! Don’t lose heart. Though valuable as a reference, I highly encourage reading the whole book because the strength of this volume is its comprehensive nature; many of the arguments have been made before, but it’s the diversity of perspectives and comprehensive picture presented that is the distinguishing strength of this volume. Those who do not hold to the doctrine of definite atonement but value engaging with opposing perspectives need this book as a sparring partner. Full review here.
- 1 Samuel for You – Tim Chester. The latest in the God’s Word for You series from the Good Book Company, 1 Samuel for You presents accessible Christ-centered exposition with devotional/practical application. I highly recommend this book for all lay Christians. Full review here.
- Union with Christ: In Scripture, History, and Theology – Robert Letham. In my experience it seems that apart from the Reformed, who tend to see union with Christ as the center of soteriology, the majority of Christians seem to neglect this doctrine, unaware of its importance. I was pretty excited to read this short text by Letham because it’s widely praised, but I found myself underwhelmed. I didn’t review this book so I’m unable to put my finger on the reason or give specific examples, but I think part of the reason might be because of how short this book is and the wide range of perspectives it covers. I also found some repetition (e.g. a certain illustration utilizing electricity showed up in multiple chapters), and sometimes the book felt disjointed. I have not read enough books on this topic to be able to recommend a better volume, but I do plan on soon reading two other widely praised volumes on union with Christ: One with Christ by Marcus Peter Johnson and Union with Christ by J. Todd Billings. I’d recommend those interested in reading up on the topic to search for reviews of these two books, because I do not know if/when I will review them.
- Are You the One Who Is to Come? The Historical Jesus and the Messianic Question – Michael Bird. I did not review this book and wasn’t even planning on reading it this past month, but upon reading in the preface to Jesus is the Christ that it was a follow-up to this volume, of course I had to read this book first. What providence that I already owned it 🙂 Anyway, this is an excellent historical Jesus study that argues for Jesus’s messianic self-consciousness. Bird’s command of Second Temple literature is quite impressive. For a summary of the book, see Christopher Skinner’s review in RBL.
- Jesus is the Christ: The Messianic Testimony of the Gospels – Michael Bird. A follow-up to Are You the One Who Is to Come, Jesus is the Christ is a Christology study whereas the earlier title is a historical Jesus study. This volume goes gospel by gospel showing the messianic Christology within each. Highly recommended for anyone looking for an accessible book on the gospels, or specifically, the (messianic) Christology of the gospels. Full review here.
- Liturgy as a Way of Life: Embodying the Arts in Christian Worship – Bruce Ellis Benson. Part of “The Church and Postmodern Culture” series from Baker Academic, this volume looks at the topic of art from a philosophical and theological perspective. Through a deconstruction of modernist conceptions of art and a reconstruction drawing on the work of continental philosophers such as Chrétien, Gadamer, Marion, and Derrida, Benson presents a paradigm for the arts in which we are all artists, improvisers in God’s image in all that we do, as His living works of art. This is a great book for anyone interested in philosophy who also has an interest in the arts in general and/or the relationship between the arts and the church. Full review here.