Green’s commentary on 1 Peter holds Biblical study and theological reflection closely together, in keeping with the aim of the “Two Horizons” series. In doing so he listens closely to the text, in conversation with fellow interpreters ancient and modern, in ways that yield theological insight for the church.
99 Things to Do between Here and Heaven, by Kathleen Long Bostrom and Peter Graystone. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 207 pp. $16.95.
Bury a time capsule. Join a discussion group. Plant a tree. Keep a spiritual journal. Be still. Write a statement of faith. Buy nothing for a day. Explore religions you know little about. These and 91 other activities fill the pages of this guide, with helpful questions for reflection, space for journaling, and a section on “What Should I Expect?” as each activity is undertaken.
About the Bible: Short Answers to Big Questions, by Terence E. Fretheim. Revised and Expanded edition. Augsburg, 2009. Pb., 177 pp. $12.99.
Who wrote the Bible? Is reading the Bible affected by who you are? What about the Genesis creation accounts and science? What is a prophet? Do the laws of the Bible apply to Christians? Fretheim addresses these and dozens of other questions in a way that makes solid scholarship accessible for a popular audience.
Baptism and Christian Identity: Teaching in the Triune Name, by Gordon S. Mikoski. Eerdmans, 2009. Pb., 280 pp. $30.
At the baptismal font, the covenant community invokes God’s triune name, and promises to nurture those who pass through those waters that they may be formed as disciples. After consideration of “Baptism, Trinity, and Ecclesial Pedagogy” in the work of Gregory of Nyssa and John Calvin, Mikoski proposes practical suggestions for congregations that take such nurture seriously in an increasingly pluralistic culture.
Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire, by William T. Cavanaugh. Eerdmans, 2008. Pb., 115 pp. $12.
Cavanaugh’s book explores the strange “unfreedom” of consumers in a market economy, probing the free market economics articulated by such folk as Milton Friedman through reflection on Augustine’s discourse on freedom and desire. His brief work is challenging, to be sure, as it reminds the church that we who profess the abundance of God need not be helpless consumers in the face of the scarcities of globalization and hunger.
Caring for Words in a Culture of Lies, by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre. Eerdmans, 2009. Pb., 254 pp. $18.
Preachers, teachers, writers — indeed, anyone who labors in the fields of language to find the mot juste — will benefit from this passionate plea to renew and restore the use of words. McEntyre, a writer and professor of English, leads her readers through a chronicle of the depletion of language, followed by 12 stewardship strategies through which our use of words might be reinvigorated for the wellbeing of life and culture.
Colossians: A Commentary, by Jerry L. Sumney. New Testament Library. WJKP, 2008. Hb., 344 pp. $49.95.
Sumney’s commentary offers helpful background on the world in which Colossians was written, with careful attention to the text and theological claims of the letter. This is a solid, reliable work for pastors and scholars alike, offering a substantive foundation for preaching and teaching.
Crazy Book: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Biblical Terms, by Rolf A. Jacobson, Karl N. Jacobson, and Hans W. Wiersma. Augsburg, 2009. Pb., 310 pp. $17.99.
So, when was the last time you found yourself chuckling as you read a Biblical dictionary? The authors (who conspired with a few others to create Crazy Talk: A Not-So-Stuffy Dictionary of Theological Terms offer useful overviews of Biblical books, characters, and places with a light, humorous touch. This book is particularly helpful for those who work with youth, or for those who might benefit from a dose of levity.
The Early Preaching of Karl Barth: Fourteen Sermons with Commentary by William H. Willimon, by Karl Barth and William H. Willimon. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 189 pp. $24.95.
As World War I drew to a close and an influenza epidemic raged across Europe, Karl Barth was drafting his commentary on Romans and crafting many of the essays gathered in The Word of God and the Word of Man. He was also standing in the pulpit of the church in Safenwil each Sunday, preaching sermons full of the God who is both wholly other than us and profoundly for us in Christ. Fourteen of those sermons are included here; Willimon’s introduction and comments illuminate them.
Doing Justice in Our Cities: Lessons in Public Policy from America’s Heartland, by Warren R. Copeland. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 151 pp. $19.95.
Warren Copeland teaches religion at Wittenberg University in Springfield, Ohio; he also happens to be the city’s mayor. Throughout this book, he explores ways that his work as a social ethicist is related to his work as a city leader who seeks the common good through the political process. He concludes with his conviction that faith at work in public life truly can make a difference for the wellbeing of cities, and that such civic wellbeing is a deeply ethical concern.
Forgotten Scriptures: The Selection and Rejection of Early Religious Writings, by Lee Martin McDonald. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 327 pp. $29.95.
In calm, measured, academic tones, McDonald rehearses the twists and turns in the history of the formation of the Biblical canon, exploring the process by which writings were included or excluded in Scripture. In so doing, he sees the study of non-canonical documents not as a threat but as an aid in clarifying the church’s faith, and in understanding the ethos of the early years of the church.
The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen: Rock and Redemption, from Asbury Park to Magic, by Jeffrey B. Symynkywicz. WJKP, 2008. Pb., 212 pp. $16.95.
Sin and redemption, the formation of community, the quest for justice, death and resurrection, love and life: it sounds like a rendering of the Biblical narrative, but it’s actually a running commentary on the lingering message of Springsteen’s music. Symynkywicz writes as a passionate fan who hears many echoes of gospel in Springsteen’s work, and fans of the Boss will certainly appreciate his offering here.
The Green Bible Devotional: A Book of Daily Readings, by Carla Barnhill. HarperOne, 2009. Pb., 192 pp. $14.99.
In 64 daily readings, Barnhill reflects on Biblical texts arranged around categories of earth, water, air, animals, and humanity, ultimately pointing to our task of faithful stewardship of the world entrusted to us by God. With space for written reflections, this devotional book will undoubtedly prompt not only prayer, but also faithful action.
Heretics for Armchair Theologians, by Justo L. González and Catherine Gunsalus González. Illustrations by Ron Hill. WJKP, 2008. Pb., 174 pp. $16.95.
Lovers of church history — and non-lovers, too — will benefit from this summary of the persons and ideas behind four centuries of ecumenical church councils as the church wrestled with its faith lived in the face of perceived threats. Writing for a non-scholarly audience, Justo and Catherine González briefly elucidate both personalities and controversies, finding that some of the “strange names and doctrines … may seem alien to us, but others strangely familiar” (p. 149).
I Told Me So: Self-Deception and the Christian Life, by Gregg A. Ten Elshof. Eerdmans, 2009. Pb., 158 pp. $15.
This is a thoughtful book for those who often hear in worship that “we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” in preparation for our prayer of confession. With both searing judgment and tender mercy, Ten Elshof dissects our capacious tendency to rationalize, procrastinate and otherwise convince ourselves that we’re not so bad, after all; and that such deception can be a “strange gift” from God in the form of grace extended to ourselves.
John Calvin: A Pilgrim’s Life, by Herman J. Selderhuis. IVP Academic, 2009. Pb., 287 pp. $25.
Among many, many publications about Calvin in this 500th anniversary of his birth, this one stands out for its being based largely on Calvin’s letters and other writings — Calvin himself having said that we learn most about people from their letters (p. 8). In the light of his correspondence, Selderhuis renders Calvin’s life not as a moribund tale of a cold, stern churchman, but instead as a compelling tale of learning and teaching, of ecclesial and political intrigue, and most importantly, of a fully human Calvin reckoning at every moment with the God who won’t let him go.
John Calvin: Reformer for the 21st Century, by William Stacy Johnson. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 151 pp. $16.95.
With appreciation, brevity, and clarity, Johnson helpfully explores John Calvin and his enduring legacy for the church’s faith, life, and public witness. Through twelve chapters, he elucidates Calvin’s life and significant theological convictions, along with implications of Calvin’s work for society. This book is a great gift to the church’s clergy and laity, well suited for individual or group use (includes discussion questions).
Life Among the Lutherans, by Garrison Keillor. Augsburg, 2009. Hb., 189 pp. $23.99.
Gleaned from his “News from Lake Wobegon” and other churchly reflections, Life Among the Lutherans offers some of the best of Keillor’s sanctified humor as he pokes fun at the foibles of Pastor Ingqvist and the residents and church members of this small town on the edge of the prairie. One could easily substitute “Presbyterian”— or any denomination, for that matter—for “Lutheran.” These stories are laugh-out-loud funny, more so because they are so full of truth about people, and about church.
The Life of Prayer: Mind, Body, and Soul, by Allen Hugh Cole Jr. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 149 pp. $16.95.
Cole offers an exceptional primer on prayer, immersing the one who prays in Scripture, and in the faithful wisdom of such folk as John Calvin, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Karl Barth. Those who desire to deepen their prayer lives will benefit greatly from reading and practicing Cole’s guidance.
Martin Luther King Jr. for Armchair Theologians, by Rufus Burrow Jr. Illustrations by Ron Hill. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 206 pp. $16.95.
After setting the historical scene of racism in America, Burrow briefly narrates the story of King’s life — his family and influences, his work as pastor and leader of a movement, and the enduring legacy of King’s witness. This is a very helpful overview of King’s life and work, quite useful for individual or group reading.
Old Testament Theology: An Introduction, by Walter Brueggemann. Library of Biblical Theology. Abingdon, 2008. Pb., 440 pp. $32.
Finding in the Book of Exodus three “Primal Revelations” of God, Brueggemann discerns from there the character of God as “Primal Character and Agent” who forms a people of praise and obedience through whom God works for hope: for Israel, and for the world. He does so in conversation with a host of Biblical scholars and theologians, though his focus remains primarily on the Biblical text and the God disclosed therein.
Philippians and Philemon: A Commentary, by Charles B. Cousar. The New Testament Library. WJKP, 2009. Hb., 128 pp. $29.95.
Cousar’s commentary explores Philippians in light of its eschatological framework, looking back to the founding of the community through its joy-filled present life in Christ to its future citizenship in heaven. This past-present-future story in turn transforms the thinking and the life of the community (p. 18). The brief commentary on Philemon concludes with a short reflection on the issue of Paul and slave ownership.
Reading the Hebrew Bible after the Shoah: Engaging Holocaust Theology, by Marvin A. Sweeney. Fortress, 2008. Pb., 300 pp. $29.
In the wake of the Holocaust, what does it mean to speak of God’s faithfulness and power in relation to calamitous evils recounted both in Scripture and in human existence? Drawing on accounts of Abraham, Moses, Jeremiah, Isaiah and others, Sweeney acknowledges an ongoing dialogue within Scripture about such matters, and challenges his readers to renew their partnership with God in working for justice and holiness in the world.
The Ten Commandments, by Patrick D. Miller. Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church. WJKP, 2009. Hb., 492 pp. $39.95.
The initial offering in this new series from Westminster John Knox promises great usefulness for those who use Scripture in the church, be they pastors or teachers or learners. Miller’s exposition of the Ten Commandments reaches throughout the canon, exploring the trajectory of the Decalogue within Scripture and into the life and work of the church today.
Theology and Ethics in Paul, by Victor Paul Furnish. The New Testament Library. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 319 pp. $39.95.
This re-publication of Furnish’s classic work, originally published in 1968, gives honor to the lasting impact of his scholarship in the world of Pauline studies. Furnish’s study situates the imperative of Paul’s ethics within the indicative of God’s presence and work in Christ, that imperative being ever governed by love. Richard Hays’ new introduction provides helpful orientation to what lies within, even as he offers appreciative criticism.
This Odd and Wondrous Calling: The Public and Private Lives of Two Ministers, by Lillian Daniel and Martin B. Copenhaver. Foreword by Peter J. Gomes. Eerdmans, 2009. Pb., 254 pp. $16.
Here’s a book for ministers, for seminary students, for personnel committees — indeed, for anyone who loves the church and cares for those whose calling draws them into church service. Daniel and Copenhaver write honestly, thoughtfully, humorously, and compellingly about the challenges, privileges, and joys of ordained ministry. This one is hard to put down.
We Get to Carry Each Other: The Gospel According to U2, by Greg Garrett. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 152 pp. $16.95.
From their formation in the 1970s through their 2009 CD No Line on the Horizon, U2 has been deeply imbued with a passionate spirituality that shapes and sustains their music. Garrett passes U2’s music through filters of belief, communion, and social justice, concluding with a number of lessons gathered from the whole of their musical outpouring. Each chapter is supplemented with a listening file of U2 songs that exemplify Garrett’s themes.
Who Is Jesus Christ for Us Today? Pathways to Contemporary Christology, edited by Andreas Schuele and Günter Thomas. WJKP, 2009. Pb., 283 pp. $29.95.
Near the end of World War II, Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously asked the question of this volume’s title. These essays, from the likes of Patrick Miller, Sarah Coakley, John Polkinghorne, Catherine Keller, Paul Hanson, Peter Lampe, and many others, will challenge pastors and teachers to recall the importance of Christology for the shaping of the faith and life of the church.