Archives for November 2012

The Weekly Hit List: November 30, 2012

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was reviewed by Lawrence E. Garcia.

“Not many, including myself at one point in time, would have considered mythology an avenue to the betterment of the world in which we live, but after reading Matthew Dickerson’s A Hobbit Journey: Discovering the Enchantment of J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth I not only consider this genre a valid option, but a necessary one.

“After all, Tolkien’s world is ‘in some sense connected to our own history’ (albeit only culturally and literarily); it is not merely a never-never land as Tolkien himself might say, but a tall tale that is meant to incite our hearts and imaginations to set in motion a more transcendent way of life for all earth’s inhabitants.”

Read the rest of the review here.

 

 

Quick Hits:

The Space Between by Eric O. Jacobsen, author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom, was reviewed by Elliot Ritzema.

The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns was reviewed by Brian LePort.

God and Charles Dickens by Gary L. Colledge was reviewed by Mark Braye.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

Today is the last day our November ebook specials are running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 60% off.

Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey
Beginnings by Peter C. Bouteneff
Creation Untamed by Terence E. Fretheim
From Stone to Living Word by Debbie Blue
Evangelicals and Empire by Bruce Ellis Benson and Peter Goodwin Heltzel
The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass
God in the Gallery by Daniel A. Siedell
The Vampire Defanged by Susannah Clements
Adventures in Daily Prayer by Bert Ghezzi
Seven Deadly Spirits by T. Scott Daniels

Lectionary Reflection for the First Sunday of Advent

This excerpt comes from Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey, commenting on Luke 21:25-36:

The events to which Jesus points are clearly the end of something we have known and the beginning of something new, the long-hoped-for kingdom of God in itself fully appearing.

For the apostles, Jesus was certainly coming again, as Peter in his great sermon declared, when the Lord shall bring about the consummation of his purposes (Acts 3:19-21). Peter’s sense of the interregnum in which we live is that it should, in its trials and tribulations, admit no dissuasion from the confident hope expressed by the prophets, of the “restoration of all things” (3:21) at the Lord’s return.

The language recorded by Luke is more modest than the same account in Matt. 24:31, which mentions the blast of a great trumpet and angels being sent out to gather the elect from “the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” But this too is a suggestion that the text is unmistakably about final closure in the divine plan of salvation history.

The parable of the fig tree is also an encouragement to future hope. Anyone who lives close to an agricultural way of life has here an advantage in grasping the power of Jesus’s example: when human life depends directly upon the springtime renewal of creation, the heart leaps up at the first signs of spring, and the imagination races joyously toward the summer. “So you also,” Jesus says, “when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:31).

 

©2012 by David Lyle Jeffrey. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

The Vampire Defanged Ebook- $1.99

With the latest film in the Twilight series – Breaking Dawn Part 2 – on top of the U.S. box office for two weeks straight, it seems clear that vampires continue to be a fascinating phenomenon in popular culture. Beyond the Twilight books and films, vampires seems to be everywhere – True Blood, The Vampire Diaries, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Slayer.

It seems timely that through the end of November Susannah Clements’ Brazos title The Vampire Defanged: How the Embodiment of Evil Became a Romantic Hero is only $1.99 as an ebook.

Bringing her literary expertise to this timely subject, Clements reveals the roots of the vampire myth and shows how it was originally immersed in Christian values and symbolism. Over time, however, vampires have been “defanged” as their spiritual significance has waned, and what was once the embodiment of evil has turned into a teen idol and the ultimate romantic hero. Clements offers a close reading of selected vampire texts, explaining how this transformation occurred and helping readers discern between the variety of vampire stories presented in movies, TV shows, and novels. Her probing engagement of the vampire metaphor enables readers to make Christian sense of this popular obsession.

The Vampire Defanged is just one title among many ebooks that are on sale through November. To see the entire list, visit www.bakerpublishinggroup.com/brazospress/l/ebook-specials

 

Lectionary Reflection for the Last Sunday after Pentecost

From Revelation (BTCB) by Joseph L. Mangina, commenting on Revelation 1:4b-8:

The climax of this sequence occurs when, for the first time in Revelation, we hear the voice of God himself, speaking through the mouth of the prophet: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'” This act of divine self-naming brings God dangerously close. Worship is dangerous—and always one step removed from blasphemy.

In presuming to speak for God, we easily forget that it is not our task to make an absent God present. As the Creator, God is present, closer to creatures than they are to themselves. God is even more intensely present in the person of his Son, whose glory we have just affirmed.

The phrase “Alpha and Omega” echoes the “is, was, is to come” at 1:4, but gives a slightly different twist to that formula. Here the emphasis falls not so much on God’s transcendence over time as on his perfect life and fullness, exceeding creation even as he embraces it, the way the letters Alpha and Omega bracket the Greek alphabet.

It is also possible that these letters suggest the divine name. It is frequently pointed out that a common Greek abbreviation for the name was ІΩΑ, which might have suggested the idea of using Alpha and Omega, Α and Ω, as a cipher for the Tetragrammaton. The ancients were fond of finding mysterious meanings in letters and numbers. That is why the decoding approach to Revelation cannot be completely discount, even if we should avoid making a fetish out of it.

 

©2010 by Joseph L. Mangina. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

The Weekly Hit List: November 16, 2012

The Space Between by Eric Jacobsen, author of Sidewalks in the Kingdom, was reviewed by Comment Magazine.

“It is a fact that fast-growing churches in North America for the past few decades have been mostly suburban, mostly large, and mostly located on huge parcels of land surrounded by even huger parking lots. Reading The Space Between questions all these practices, from a theological as well as a practical point of view.

“This is a book that was needed fifty years ago or more, but as Anthony Hopkins says in The Mask of Zorro, ‘When the pupil is ready, the teacher will come.’

“Perhaps in this day, in our time, the pupil, the church, is ready to hear what the teacher, Eric Jacobsen, has to say.

His is a prophetic voice that needs to be heard.”
Read the rest of the review here.
 

Quick Hits:

The Bible Made Impossible by Christian Smith was reviewed by Brian LePort on the Near Emmaus blog.

Who Is My Enemy? by Lee C. Camp was reviewed by pastor Stephen Barkley.

Brian LePort has concluded his series on the “historicity” of Adam, comparing The Evolution of Adam by Peter Enns and Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? by C. John Collins. All 25 posts are available here.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

November ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 60% off.

Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey
Beginnings by Peter C. Bouteneff
Creation Untamed by Terence E. Fretheim
From Stone to Living Word by Debbie Blue
Evangelicals and Empire by Bruce Ellis Benson and Peter Goodwin Heltzel
The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass
God in the Gallery by Daniel A. Siedell
The Vampire Defanged by Susannah Clements
Adventures in Daily Prayer by Bert Ghezzi
Seven Deadly Spirits by T. Scott Daniels

Lectionary Reflection for the Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost

From 1 Samuel (BTCB) by Francesca Aran Murphy, commenting on 1 Samuel 1:4-20:

The book begins with a childless woman in a tribal society, in which contempt is heaped on women who do not deliver population growth. The first role that it addresses is motherhood. In Israel’s polygamous society, Hannah is one of Elkanah’s two wives, the barren one. Because nature has not taken its course in her marriage to Elkanah, Hannah asks God for a son.

Antiochene theologian Saint John Chrysostom contrasts her tiny request with more worldly demands: politically ambitious men who are “suing and grasping for a kingdom” should be “ashamed” to remember Hannah, “praying and weeping for a little child” (Homilies on Ephesians 24, in Franke 2005: 196).

Literary critics of the Hebrew Bible have taught us to see the barren woman’s request for fertility as a “type scene,” a model story that is repeated across scripture, so that when we meet a barren woman, we can expect that pretty soon she will be mother to a hero-child (Alter 1981: 51). Ancient Christian commentators found theological types in scripture.

Here the type of the barren-woman-turned-mother represents theological truth that God assigns spiritual gifts. Hannah’s pregnancy is not strictly miraculous, since she is not evidently incapable of childbearing, not too old like Sarah, for instance. Hannah’s fertility is not miraculous but providential, the hand of God working unseen within nature and history.

For Chrysostom, the moral of the story is patience and providence. “Let us not take this” story “with a grain of salt,” he says, but “even” when some “disaster” seems “insupportable to us, let us . . . wait on God’s providence” (2003: 74-75). This typical episode sets the history that 1 Samuel recounts rolling because the book is about God’s providential dealing out of roles.

 

©2010 by Francesca Aran Murphy. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

Brazos Press at ETS/SBL/AAR Annual Meetings

Over the next week, Brazos Press and Baker Academic will be attending the annual meetings of the Evangelical Theological Society in Milwaukee and the Society of Biblical Literature & American Academy of Religion in Chicago.

Visit our booths for a 40% discount to all participants.

At ETS, we are booth #319; at SBL/AAR, #600-601.

We thought we would highlight a few Baker Academic titles that have just released and will be of interest to readers of The Brazos Blog. Here is a preview:

Personal Jesus by Clive Marsh & Vaughan Roberts

Clive Marsh and Vaughan Roberts show that popular music is used by religious and nonreligious people alike to make meaning, enabling listeners to explore human concerns about embodiment, create communities, and tap into transcendence.  Personal Jesus incorporates case studies featuring noted music artists of our day–including David Bowie, Michael Jackson, Sigur Rós, Pete Seeger, Bruce Springsteen, and Lady Gaga–and includes practical implications for the church, the academy, and daily musical listening.

The Economy of Desire by Daniel Bell

In this addition to the award-winning Church and Postmodern Culture series, Daniel Bell compares and contrasts capitalism and Christianity, showing how Christianity provides resources for faithfully navigating the postmodern global economy. He approaches capitalism and Christianity as alternative visions of humanity, God, and the good life. Considering faith and economics in terms of how desire is shaped, he casts the conflict as one between different disciplines of desire.

 The Gospel after Christendom edited by Ryan Bolger

This book explores what is happening today in innovative church movements in continental Europe, Asia, and Latin America and in African American hip-hop cultures. Featuring an international cast of contributors, the book explores the changes occurring both in emerging cultures and in emerging and missional churches across the globe.

The Weekly Hit List: November 9, 2012

Matthew Dickerson, author of A Hobbit Journey, was interviewed by PJ Review of Books.

[In response to the question: “In what ways does A Hobbit Journey differ from your other books on Tolkien, Following Gandalf and Ents, Elves, and Eriador?“]

“It is quite different in tone that [of] Ents, Elves and Eriador.  That book has a somewhat more academic voice — though I think it is still very readable — and it is also much narrower in topic, focusing really just on environmental and ecological aspects of Tolkien’s writing. A Hobbit Journey has a much broader topic, and I think therefore a broader audience, both in the breadth of what I explore and in my approach.  I will say that both books do get at the ideological core of Tolkien’s works.”

Read the rest of the interview here.

 

Quick Hits:

A Hobbit Journey by Matthew Dickerson was reviewed by Mathew Sims.

A Public Faith by Miroslav Volf was reviewed by J. C. Schaap.

Miroslav Volf’s “Values of a Public Faith” were recommended by Arni Zachariassen.

Just Politics by Ronald J. Sider was recommended by Kacie Rogers.

 

Ebook Specials and Other Offers:

November ebook specials are currently running for multiple Brazos Press and Baker Academic titles. All of these are at least 60% off.

Luke (BTCB) by David Lyle Jeffrey
Beginnings by Peter C. Bouteneff
Creation Untamed by Terence E. Fretheim
From Stone to Living Word by Debbie Blue
Evangelicals and Empire by Bruce Ellis Benson and Peter Goodwin Heltzel
The Forgotten Ways Handbook by Alan Hirsch with Darryn Altclass
God in the Gallery by Daniel A. Siedell
The Vampire Defanged by Susannah Clements
Adventures in Daily Prayer by Bert Ghezzi
Seven Deadly Spirits by T. Scott Daniels

Lectionary Reflection for the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings 17:8-16:

When the water runs out at Cherith, Yahweh sends his prophet to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, Jezebel’s territory, Baal’s territory. There too Yahweh proves himself Lord. . . . Israel looks on other gods with favor, so Yahweh looks for other nations to favor.

Yahweh sends Elijah off to a Gentile widow, though, as Jesus said, there were many widows in Israel at the time (Luke 4:25). With all Israel remade in the image of its harlot queen (2 Kgs. 9:22, 30), Yahweh seeks out a poor widow-bride among the Gentiles (1 Kgs. 17:13-24).

Wherever Elijah goes, life breaks out, abundantly, since he is the bearer of the word and presence of the life-giving creator. By providing food for the widow of Zarephath, a Canaanite counterpart to Jezebel, Yahweh shows his superiority to Baal, who, after all, is unable to provide a bit of bread for a Sidonian widow and her household.

In the midst of drought and famine, Elijah’s arrival makes her house a place of uninterrupted provision. When she honors the prophet by giving him her first cake of bread, Yahweh gives her a prophet’s reward (Matt. 10:41), replenishing her oil and flour. In the midst of Baal’s territory, Yahweh provides bread for his prophet and for the widow who supports him.

In faith, the woman puts bread upon the waters and receives an abundant return.

 

©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

 

Ron Sider on the Importance of Voting and Political Engagment

On the eve of the 2012 election, we thought we would share from Ronald Sider’s recent Brazos book Just Politics: A Guide for Christian Engagement. The following excerpt is taken from the first chapter of Just Politics where Sider explains why faithful Christians should be active in politics and voting.

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It is a simple historical fact that political decisions have a huge impact—good or bad—on the lives of literally billions of people. Think of the devastation and death the world might have avoided if German voters had not elected Hitler to public office. Think of the freedom, goodness, and joy that followed for tens of millions from the fact that evangelical member of Parliament William Wilberforce labored for more than thirty years and eventually persuaded his colleagues in the British Parliament to outlaw first the slave trade and then slavery itself in the British Empire.

It is through politics that country after country has come to enjoy democracy. It is through politics that nation after nation has stopped jailing and killing “heretics”—thousands of my ancestors in the sixteenth century were burned at the stake or drowned in the rivers by fellow Protestants who disagreed with our belief that the church should be separate from the state. It took centuries, but eventually more and more politicians in more and more countries decided that religious freedom for everyone is a necessary mark of a just political order. It is through politics that Marxist-Leninist totalitarianism first conquered and developed and then waned and disappeared in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. It is through politics that we develop laws that either restrict or permit abortion, allow or forbid “gay marriage,” protect or destroy the environment. Politics is simply too important to ignore.

The theological reason for political engagement is even more compelling. The central Christian confession is that Jesus is now Lord—Lord of the entire universe. The New Testament explicitly teaches that he is now “ruler of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5). “All authority in heaven and on earth” has been given to the risen Jesus (Matt. 28:18). Christians who know that must submit every corner of their lives to their wonderful Lord.

Since we live in democratic societies where we have the freedom to vote, our votes—or even our failure to vote—shape what happens in important areas of politics. If Christ is my Lord, if Christ desires the well-being of all, and if my vote has the potential to encourage political decisions that will promote the well-being of my neighbors, then the obligation to vote responsibly follows necessarily from my confession that Christ my Lord calls me to love my neighbor. One way Christians must live out our belief that Christ is Lord, even of political life, is to think and pray for wisdom to act politically in ways that best reflect Christ our Lord.

©2012 by Ronald J. Sider. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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Ronald J. Sider (PhD, Yale University) is president of Evangelicals for Social Action and professor of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy at Palmer Theological Seminary in Wynnewood, Pennsylvania. He is the author of many books, including the bestselling Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger and The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience.

For more information about Just Politics, click here.
To read a longer excerpt, click here.