Books (and booklets) I read this summer

  1. The Chasm (2011) by Randy Alcorn
  2. God and Dog (2010) by Wendy Francisco
  3. It is Well (2010) by Mark Dever & Michael Lawrence
  4. Defined by Christ (2010) by Toni Sorenson
  5. He Will Give You Rest (2010) by Holzapfel & Strathearn
  6. Even the Prophet Started Out As A Deacon (2010) by Shane Barker
  7. Think (2010) by John Piper
  8. If the Foundations Be Destroyed (1994) by Chick Salliby
  9. Uneclipsing the Son (2011) by Rick Holland
  10. Gospel Meditations for Men (2011) by Chris Anderson & Joe Tyrpak
  11. Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families (2011) by Cokie & Steve Roberts
  12. The Egyptian File (2011, Teacher’s Book) by Answers in Genesis
  13. Galatians: Law & Grace, Companions in Redemption (2001) by Steve Salter
  14. Did The Resurrection Happen . . . Really? (2011) by Josh McDowell & Dave Sterrett
  15. Augustine’s Confessions: A Biography (2011) by Garry Wills
  16. The Council of Dads (2010) by Bruce Feiler
  17. Generous Justice (2010) by Timothy Keller
  18. Unashamed (2000) by Francine Rivers
  19. The Hunger Games (2008) by Suzanne Collins
  20. Catching Fire (2009) by Suzanne Collins
  21. Mockingjay (2010) by Suzanne Collins
  22. Idaho Bicycling Street Smarts (2005)


  1. So….

    When ya gonna read the late J. Pelikan “The Christian Tradition: A History of the Development of Docrine” especially volumes 1, 2, and 3?

  2. Pelikan truly is excellent. I have a hard time imagining not keeping all five volumes of The Christian Tradition with me wherever I happen to be living.

    My summer reads:

    Iberian Fathers, Vol. 1: Martin of Braga, Paschasius of Dumium, Leander of Seville, trans. Claude W. Barlow
    A Dissertation on the Prophecies Relative to Antichrist and the Last Times (1811) by Ethan Smith
    A Key to the Figurative Language Found in the Sacred Scriptures (1814) by Ethan Smith
    View of the Hebrews (1823) by Ethan Smith
    Nicaea and Its Legacy: An Approach to Fourth-Century Trinitarian Theology (2004) by Lewis Ayres
    Fundamentalism and Evangelicals (1998) by Harriet Harris
    The Acts of the Council of Chalcedon (3 vols.), trans. Richard Price and Michael Gaddis
    Systematic Theology (3 vols.) (1986-2000) by James William McClendon Jr.
    Reconstructing Honor in Roman Philippi: Carmen Christi as Cursus Pudorum (2005) by Joseph Hellerman
    The Refiner’s Fire: The Making of Mormon Cosmology, 1644-1844 (1994) by John L. Brooke
    God, Time, and Eternity: The Coherence of Theism II: Eternity (2001) by William Lane Craig
    Eunomius of Cyzicus and the Nicene Revolution (2001) by Richard Paul Vaggione
    The Hope of Glory: Honor Discourse and New Testament Interpretation (2009) by David A. deSilva
    H. P. Lovecraft: The Fiction by H. P. Lovecraft
    Experience of God and the Rationality of Theistic Belief (1997) by Jerome I. Gellman
    The Story of Christianity, Vol. 2: The Reformation to the Present Day (2010) by Justo L. Gonzalez
    Baptism on Account of the Dead (1 Cor 15:29): An Act of Faith in the Resurrection (2005) by Michael F. Hull

    And I should be finishing Origen of Alexandria’s Homilies on Joshua tomorrow.

  3. Wow, JB! Of course, you ARE a seminary student.

    Questions: what is Hull’s conclusion? Does he come to think the Mormons are correct or does he take J. Jeremias’ position, OR does he come to some third position?

    Does Ayres bring anything new to the discussion? How about Barlow?

    I just read a somewhat lukewarm view of Vaggione? What do you think?

    And, any other comments you wish to make on any of these other books would be welcome as well, either here (right, Todd?) or on your blog.

  4. 1. Not many seem to talk about Ethan Smith these days. But I would be interested in JB’s take on Ethan Smith and Joseph Smith.

    2. Harriet Harris brings up valid points about Common Sense Realism and Fundamentalism. But since the writing of her preface, there is a new fundamentalist writer for interface – Kevin Bauder.

    3. I am currently in I Corinthians 11. It could be at least another couple of months before our church family jumps into chapter 15. Greg, I don’t believe that Hull thinks that LDS are correct on their idea of a vicarious baptism.

  5. For midweek study, we are in Joshua (Joshua 7 last night). Christians can easily relate to Jericho victories and Ai defeats. The highs and the lows. But it doesn’t shake my being justified. 🙂

  6. Thank you, Greg and Todd!

    In the first chapter of his book, Dr. Hull surveys around forty or so different (non-LDS) interpreters of 1 Corinthians 15:29. (Who knew that there were so many options?) In the end, Hull concludes that vicarious baptism is a highly implausible reading and argues that the baptism in question is ordinary baptism and that catechumens undergoing baptism are being held up as an example to the Corinthians because they have not yet lost their firm belief in the resurrection of the dead – and, if the dead are not raised, baptism would be pointless.

    Ayres’ book is quite fantastic. Excellently nuanced, perhaps almost too much so at times, if that’s even possible. Ayres gives excellent attention to the four general theological trajectories of the period (Eusebian, Athanasian, Marcellan, and Western, essentially). Vaggione’s book I was less impressed with. It’s not that it seemed to be in error or unfair at any particular point… but even when I finished it, I couldn’t help but ask myself, “What did I actually just learn?” I was similarly unimpressed with Harris’ book; she had great material on Common Sense Realism, but she seemed to put far too much stock in Barr’s problematic notion of fundamentalism. I suppose I’m glad I read the book anyway, because some of the material was really quite useful, but I was ultimately disappointed in it.

    I got quite a bit from Barlow’s translation of some of the Iberian Fathers’ writings. I can see why those authors aren’t particularly famous – not much of real theological profundity there – but some quite useful moral treatises, as well as a few collections of sayings of the Desert Fathers. Martin of Braga also had a fascinating sermon ‘Reforming the Rustics’, focused basically in preventing Iberian Christians from the countryside from reverting to pagan practices. It brings together a retelling of the biblical narrative and a condemnation of Roman gods, magical practices, and other errors, such as thinking that January 1 is the start of the year, “which is completely false”. (Some of Martin’s points about January 1 are also used in his treatise on calculating the date of Easter.) It also includes a fairly detailed recounting of Iberian Christian baptismal practice. Paschasius’ only contribution is another collection of Desert Fathers’ sayings, while Leander offers a treatise of advice for nuns (mostly emphasis on virginity as a holy lifestyle) as well as a triumphant sermon celebrating the conversion of the Goths to the orthodox faith. I presume Barlow’s rendering to be rather faithful to the Latin texts of all these, and it certainly reads well.

    Ethan Smith is a very interesting figure. After reading his ‘View of the Hebrews’, I think it either did inform Joseph Smith’s thought (but not as much as sometimes suggested) or, perhaps more likely, reflects strains of American belief at the time that also found expression in Joseph’s local environs. Ethan Smith interests me more as a figure in his own right now, and also as a formative influence in Oliver Cowdery’s life. His eschatological thought is detailed and fascinating – even though he’s been conclusively proven wrong long hence. If I had lived in his time and been inclined to look for signs of the end, I don’t think I could have disagreed with him. He offered a very persuasive case that the French Revolution was the rise of Antichrist as a renewed anti-Christian imperialism in the French Empire. Toward the end of his eschatological dissertation, he also sounded the alarms about the growing secularism of American society and the removal of God from schools. Some things never change. I need to revisit Ethan Smith’s ‘View of the Trinity’. It’s an interesting reflection of a non-Nicene Trinitarianism (non-Nicene insofar as Smith rejects the eternal generation of the Son, preferring to say that the Word only entered into a sonship relation to the Father later on).

    On Joshua – amen, Todd! You might find some of Origen’s interpretive moves quite interesting. Whatever the case as far as faithfulness to the original intent of the text, Origen’s approach certainly stresses applicability to the Christian life. For instance, Rahab signifies the people of God, the scarlet thread signifies the shed blood of Christ, the spies she accepts signify Christ’s messengers of salvation, Jericho signifies the world as it stands in the current age, Rahab’s house signifies the church (outside of which none are saved), the trumpeters signify the prophets and apostles, the trumpets signify books of Scripture, etc. Extremely clever.

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