Definitely been slacking on getting some book reviews out there. The stack of completed books on my desk has become dangerous! Let’s see if I can break my blog or your web browser with this post.
This one was quite a time commitment to make it though. I went with John Ciardi’s translation, which seemed quite well done. It contains tons of notes on what’s going on in the epic poem historically, theologically and what he sometimes translates Dante as he does. As for the poem itself, it’s very interesting to see what Dante does with Hell, Purgatory and Paradise. I actually found the first of the two more interesting, as Dante uses far more nebulous imagery all throughout Paradise, which makes it very difficult to understand what in the world (or what in the heaven?) is going on. My favorite part of the entire poem happens to be when Dante reaches the depths of Hell, climbing down ginormous Satan’s legs towards Purgatory and all of a sudden gravity switches on him and he’s now climbing up… because he’s crossed the gravitational center of the earth. This was written in the early 1300s… what’s that tell you about all that crap we were fed in school about people thinking the earth was flat? ;) There’s a ton of other interesting tidbits throughout the poem, but it would take too long to go through here… perhaps you’ll have to check it out yourself. Oh, one more thing… I listened to a several hour seminar on the poem before I launched into it, which turned out to not really be necessary due to the great amount of notes in Ciardi’s translation. What did startle me was how many times the teachers were so in awe of the poem and how you should/could spend years studying it. Too bad they were focusing on the wrong book.
T picked these books up when Don Richardson visited the church we attend. He was a missionary to the Sawi people in Dutch New Guinea, and his amazing story of bringing the Gospel to these cannibalistic headhunters is the focus of the first book. I won’t do this justice, but to summarize the story, this people thrived on treachery against one another, sometimes befriending each other for months just to kill the person for fame and glory for how amazingly you tricked that person. When Don brought them the Gospel, they loved Judas Iscariot of all people due to his treachery betraying Jesus Christ. Eventually Don found God planted the Gospel somewhere else in their culture in that the only way they could have peace is for a tribe to give up a "peace child" to another tribe to be raised by them. When he witnessed them do this, he found they completely turned around when he pointed out to the Sawi that God Himself provided the ultimate, eternal peace child to the world in Jesus Christ. Like I said, I didn’t do the events justice, so check out the book, or you might even be able to get it straight from Don if the sermon is still available online. As for the second book, Don describes several other cultures showing that God placed the Gospel message into their history and cultural practices from eternity. Don’s sermon touches on this material as well. Definitely plenty of additional food for thought.
For a relatively short book, R. C. works through much of the major history of the theological debate over free will and God’s sovereignty. He touches on Pelagius and Augustine, Luther and Calvin and Arminius, Edwards and Finney and Chafer… various important theologians in the debates throughout history. With such a short book, Sproul does a fairly good job summarizing the main points in the debate attribute to each of them, and I suspect it’s a great starting point to view the landscape before digging deep into the actual writings of each of them, as well as studying the primary reference material… the Bible itself. As for Sproul’s personal stance/leanings, you’re going to have to read it to find out. ;)
John MacArthur is one of our favorite authors, and this was a well-written in-depth study of Revelation with much more material than in his study Bible that T uses. While I don’t agree with all of his interpretations of the book, I am mostly on his side. It’s always refreshing to read someone taking a real stance on Biblical passages rather than the wishy-washy stuff you get with some other commentaries. There’s definitely a place for both types of material, however, since the Biblical text is certainly not perfectly clear. Given that, I do always appreciate that John finds no problem throwing his understanding out there to see.
Honestly, I didn’t read completely through this book since it felt like a repeat of much of what is in the film it accompanies. It provides detailed reference material and expands on the content of the film, but I feel like I got plenty from the film alone. The basic premise of the book is that children in public schools are being indoctrinated in secular humanism, which is ultimately destructive to any possible Christian upbringing and to society itself. That’s a pretty big fish to swallow, and Charles certainly makes a decent go at things. Ultimately, I see both the film and book as a "teaser" of what’s going on out there and it likely will require more in depth reading of additional material to be convinced of anything.
Perhaps I’ve changed too much over the years, or maybe Neal has lost a bit of his touch with books, but I really didn’t enjoy this book much. The first 100 pages or so were pretty neat, as it focused on the types of computer games I enjoy playing. However, I just felt that around the time the story seemed to be complete, it quickly took some crazy turns into left field and it went on and on and on for far too many additional 100s of pages. Hard to describe without far too many details, so I will instead simply suggest you check out his Snow Crash and Cyptonomicon books instead.
For such a short story, it sure is packed with some great stuff. My neighbor Ken loaned this to me after we were discussing "old" sci-fi books one night, and I am glad to have finally read it. While there are some boring parts throughout, and perhaps there might be many things simply seen as cliché today, it is filled with a genius vision of what was going to happen (and in many ways has happened) to society in whatever this modern age is we find ourselves in. Check it out and see if it doesn’t send just a few shivers up and down your spine.
This is the third book in Godawa’s Chronicles of the Nephilim collection, and it focuses on pulling material from the ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh alongside the Bible and other ancient documents. I had been exposed to the Epic of Gilgamesh almost twenty years ago when I spent too much time digesting Zecharia Sitchin’s The Twelfth Planet paleobabble books, to use a phrase of one of my favorite blogs. So, it was neat to see how Godawa brought that story into his, attempting to reconcile some of it with the little we find in the Bible of the time period. While it’s just as conjectural as his previous books, it’s certainly an entertaining ride just like they were. His fourth book, Abraham Allegiant is already out and waiting on my Kindle "shelf" to be read.
This is the second time I’ve typed the word "twelvth" in this post (well, now that makes three times) and it still doesn’t look right to me. Anyway, I’ve read most of Joel’s fictional takes on world events being part of the unfolding of end times events predicted in the Bible, and this is the first of his latest series of books. One of the most interesting parts I found in the book was the beginning where he basically replays a portion of the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis, which I just so happened to "watch" a couple months later when the Academy Award winning Argo came out on DVD. Funny timing. Anyway, Joel always has an eery way of predicting the trend of events in the Middle East, and it will be interesting to see how these latest books turn out.
I should let T attempt to explain how I ended up reading a whole bunch of books by this Jewish theologian-philosopher. Holy moly is Buber difficult to understand, but maybe that’s how all philosophers think and write. I and Thou is apparently his most famous book, and I would suggest simply reading reviews of that book to be far more entertaining as they attempt to justify how each and every completely mistifyingly-incomprehensible statement (at least to me) is utter brilliance. Here’s just a small taste:
Basic words do not state something that might exist outside them; by being spoken they establish a mode of existence.
Basic words are spoken with one’s being.
When one says You, the I of the word pair I-You is said, too.
When one says It, the I of the word pair I-It is said, too.
The basic word I-You can only be spoken with one’s whole being.
The basic word I-It can never be spoken with one’s whole being.
Perhaps I need to take a full course to understand that one, though I do have to admit after reading the book I at least have a very basic grasp of his premise. It’s just crazy-weird language to have to muddle your way through. I suppose that’s the way of the philosopher. You can read reviews of the other books elsewhere if you’re really interested… they are all quite different from each other. I just didn’t gain a whole lot from any of them worth passing on today. ;)
The Witness of the Stars (E. W. Bullinger)
Now these were pretty cool. I haven’t dug into the history of these two books, but they happened to both have been written in the late 19th century (1882 and 1895,respectively), which perhaps explains how similar they are. It appears Bullinger basically adapted Seiss’ material with some of his own thoughts, and it sounded from Bullinger’s intro like Seiss’ book was based on another author’s material as well. Anyway, the premise of both is that the zodiac and other related constellations are a witness to all of mankind of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, with the idea that its perhaps part of what is meant by Biblical passages like the following ones.
14 And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,
Genesis 1:14 (ESV)
1 The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. 2 Day to day pours out speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. 3 There is no speech, nor are there words, whose voice is not heard. 4 Their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them he has set a tent for the sun, 5 which comes out like a bridegroom leaving his chamber, and, like a strong man, runs its course with joy. 6 Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.
Psalm 19:1–6 (ESV)
19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened.
Romans 1:19–21 (ESV)
Their arguments from the history of the constellations in terms of names and pictorial representations of the stars throughout cultures all over the earth can be quite compelling, especially when asking oneself a question like, "how in the world did anyone possibly come up with those stars making the shape of [insert name]?!?!" You definitely don’t need to read both of these, and they are mostly equivalent. The funny thing is, I think one of the guys was too far on the side of replacement theology (i.e., that the church has completely replaced Israel) and the other leans too far the other way. Of course, you could keep it simple and just jump at Seiss’ much shorter version if that’s all you care about. ;)
Sproul has a great way with getting straight to the heart of a matter, and this book is no exception. Rather than debate on grounds of nebulous arguments between these two groups, as I see so often in other debates, he returns back to the crux why Protestants were originally protesting. No summary of this already-short book will do it justice, so just borrow it from me sometime. The basic conclusion is, no, we are not together. The conclusions of the Council of Trent still stand (those that declared several "anathemas"), many of which well summarize the points on which we differ. Paul himself warned the Galatians there will be different gospels of supreme importance.
8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:8 (ESV)
While there are some anathemas from the council we might actually agree upon, there are plenty enough to indict Protestants’ view of the Gospel, and those are the focus of Sproul’s book. He concludes those differences still exist, have not been reversed by the church, and that they are still of supreme importance. For such a short book, I suggest you check out his arguments for yourself.
There are several books in the "three views" series, and this is the only one I’ve read so far, which I found out about from Bruce. I really enjoyed the format of the book, where each author takes a turn at presenting his view, followed by a brief engagement of his material by the other two authors, followed by one last bit of statements from that author in response. Ultimately, I didn’t really find much to convince me to change how I viewed this difficult part of Scripture. However, what I did find was much more appreciation for competing views, better realizing how difficult it is for one to be dogmatic on interpretation. This is great stuff, and I will probably be checking out more books in the series.
Grant loaned me this book several months ago. It’s huge. So is Steve’s face on the front of the book, which I suppose fits the way I saw his ego through the years (and appears to be backed up by the biography). Interesting man, but in the end, I found the most interesting material in the biography to be all the reliving of technological events in the history of computing centered around Steve’s life. There were some great moments from childhood that I was able to relive throughout the book, and while it was hard to view the problematic moments of Steve’s life, reliving my personal memories made the read worth it.
This is definitely not the way to study Scripture, but it was a fairly neat book for what it is… namely a summary of each book of the Bible along with pretty pictures related to those books to help you visualize some of the major events. I found myself at times annoyed with how Miller approached some passages, but overall it was pretty well done, especially considering how short it is. On a side note, I have The Baker Illustrated Bible Handbook sitting here on my shelf ready to be read, which I expect to be far superior, though perhaps that will be mostly due to being a much larger book.
This book was short, sweet and to the point. Bickersteth does a good job racing through Scripture comparing passage after passage to clearly demonstrate the doctrine of the Trinity is through and through the Old and New Testaments when taken together. The sheer number of passages where the Father, Son and Holy Spirit share the same exact attributes can actually be pretty startling when viewed all in one place in a book like this. If reading Scripture alone hasn’t convinced you yet, perhaps this gem will knock your socks off.
I can’t exactly remember how I came across this small book summarizing exactly what the title states. It might have helped my "Jesus in the Old Testament" study a bit if I had picked this one up earlier, but it contains much of the same material in other commentaries and books I use as part of my research. The best thing about it is that the length is something where you could maybe skip the depth of my blog posts and simply take the high-level good stuff in one sitting and call it all good. Maybe that will drop my three blog readers down to two, though. On second thought, forget I said anything. ;)
Yes, it did just happen to finally end this post on a five-star book. I picked this one up for free online, which you can download here as well. This was actually pretty hard to get through due to John’s language and writing style. It’s a weighty book, but so well worth travelling through if you can be patient and take your time. It was edited by Kelly M. Kapic and Justin Taylor to be more readable, providing some helpful footnotes throughout. The actual three books within this book are very interesting, and they do well to explore the nature of the spiritual battle waged daily within ourselves as believers in dealing with this sinful nature we continue to have with us this side of the grave. Rather than attempt to summarize these, I will leave you with a single passage I found to be most striking.
"The choicest believers, who are assuredly freed from the condemning
power of sin, ought yet to make it their business all their days to mortify the
indwelling power of sin. So the apostle, “Mortify therefore your members
which are upon the earth” (Col. 3:5). To whom does he speak? Such as were
“risen with Christ” (v. 1); such as were “dead” with him (v. 3); such as whose
life Christ was and who should “appear with him in glory” (v. 4).
Do you mortify;
do you make it your daily work;
be always at it while you live;
cease not a day from this work;
be killing sin or it will be killing you."
And with that, Owen launches into most of the rest of his material. Tough read. Tough love. But, so is Romans, which should really be your first stop. After that, let Owen take a shot, too.Share on Facebook