Writing a book review on a book of such importance as the Bible constitutes a unique experience regardless of how many times one has undertaken the process. Most book reviews focus on the meaning, implications, and history behind the content of a publication. With the Christian Bible, however, these tasks are insurmountable in a single book review, for these questions are the purview of the life of the Church as well as whole academic fields. Thus, as I have said before, attempting to summarize the contents of the Bible for a mere book review remains foolishness at best, since could not possible hope to do justice to what must be said.
Musings on reviewing Bibles aside, this particular review examines the New International Version Proclamation Bible (Zondervan, 2013). As with nearly every translation or version of the Christian scriptures, the contents of this Bible are well worth reading and are commended to readers and listeners everywhere. This general affirmation in mind, the duration of this review will focus on three aspects of the Proclamation Bible: the “Proclamation” Front Matter, two front cover designations, and some general notes on the style and construction of this particular Bible. Continue reading
I am grateful to Baker Academic, InterVarsity Press, B&H Academic, and Zondervan for providing me with my “spring reading” selections, including The Didache (Baker), Why Church History Matters (IVP), Lukan Authorship of Hebrews (B&H Academic), Encountering the New Testament (Baker), and Believe (Zondervan). Look for reviews of these books to being appearing in the next couple of weeks.
A longstanding problem for those attempting to study early Christianity involves the obscurity of the first centuries of the Common Era. Though nearly constantly reflected upon and studied since those years faded into the past, there remain numerous gaps in our understanding of the world and context of Jesus and his earliest followers. Unfortunately, this fact becomes especially noticeable when examining conceptions of how Second Temple Judaism and those living in Ancient Palestine impacted the subsequent shape of early Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. To help address this gap and to introduce the recent textual and archaeological findings from this important period comes Galilee in the Late Second Temple and Mishnaic Periods: Life, Culture, and Society: Volume One (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014), edited by David A. Fiensy and James Riley Strange. Continue reading
In Lost Scriptures: Books that Did Not Make It Into The New Testament (OUP, 2003) New Testament scholar and textual critic Bart D. Ehrman compiles a translation and brief introduction to forty-seven writings of the Jesus Movement and Early Christian Church. Providing the scholar and student easy to understand and accurate English translations of these non-canonical texts, Lost Scriptures is an invaluable resource for those studying the early history and development of Christian faith and practice. Containing materials of a variety of genres and positions, Lost Scriptures presents its readers with a plethora of source-text based examples of the various strands of early Christian faith. While not a perfect introduction to early Christianity, Lost Scriptures does an admirable job of presenting pertinent historical facts alongside readable English translations of early Christian literature.
Lost Scriptures begins with a brief introduction to the materials presented, including a historical sketch of the Jesus Movement and the importance of realizing that canonical texts do not represent the entire picture of early followers of Jesus of Nazareth. Ehrman lays out the texts in the order of their canonical genres, ordering his materials as gospels, acts, epistles, and finally apocalypses and revelatory texts. Ehrman presents seventeen non-canonical gospel fragments, each of which provides some perspective concerning early Christian views on the pre-history, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. These gospel accounts, which vary greatly in length and source-type (some are reconstructed from other writings while others have been discovered in extant form and translated), include such notable works as the Coptic Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary, and the Secret Gospel of Mark. Also included are some texts that are not typically labeled as gospel accounts, such as the Gnostic Second Treatise of the Great Seth, which nonetheless claim to include allegedly biographical information about Jesus. Continue reading