Saturday, December 12, 2009

Best Books for the Break?

The last three posts have outlined the early history of American Evangelicalism. They explain, among other things, where Christianity Today magazine came from. The next installment in this series will be a few posts about American Evangelicals and Old Testament scholarship.

A few years ago, starting with Volume 1, I read through Christianity Today, focusing especially on evangelical stances towards mainstream Old Testament studies. The survey revealed a mixed bag that illustrates, I think, an inherent dilemma (and sometimes double-mindedness) when it comes to Evangelicals and the world in which they live. This has implications for the Churches of Christ, which sort of are and aren't members of the evangelical tribe. More later.

Now I want to ask you a few questions. But before we get to the questions and your answers, let's talk about me. Life gets busy. I know that most folks have a lot going on. It's been like that for me the last several days.

Over the past two weeks, I finished reading all of the term papers and projects assigned to my students. And then there were final exams to put to together, and give, and grade. Once the finals were scored, I calculated course grades for the semester and submitted them to Amarillo College. This was for five classes I taught during the fall 2009 semester
  • The Old Testament
  • The New Testament
  • Introduction to World Religions
  • Gospel of John
  • Elementary Biblical Hebrew I
While that was going on, I was also finishing up work on another course: the one where I was the student instead of the teacher. This past semester, I was part of a graduate seminar at West Texas A&M U. on the History of Europe before 1648. The seminar focused on England, especially London, during the Middle Ages. I know it's cliche, but I what I learned most of all is how much I don't know.
Which is not to say I didn't learn a lot. We spent most of the semester reading and discussing primary texts. I wound up writing my paper on a first-person account written by a follower of John Wyclif, the Lollard priest William Thorpe, who recorded his informal heresy trial before Thomas Arundel, Archbishop of Canterbury. Fascinating stuff. The professor, Dr. Bruce Brasington, was really good too.
Anyway, while all that was going on, I was also teaching a Wednesday-night class on the Book of Isaiah at the Colonies Church of Christ. We finish up next week.
Which means . . . between now and mid-January, I'll have some downtime. Yes, there's the Holidays in the middle of all that. But especially after the first of the year, the good Lord willing, I'll have several reading days. My question is, What do you recommend? Especially in these three categories:
1. Fiction. I'm in the mood for a really fine novel (new or classic). I would also consider a collection of great short stories; but since that genre isn't doing so well these days, it would have to be a strong, convincing recommendation.
2. Bible-Theology. I'd prefer not to work through a new commentary, although I'm sure there are a bunch of fine new ones out there. I think I'm looking for something that takes a big, broad view of Scripture or a theological theme.
3. History. At this point, I'm thinking "American." But since I'm one of those dogs that'll chase any rabbit, I will consider any suggestion in the category.
4. Society-Culture-Politics. I like to learn and think about the past. But I also need to have a sense of what's going on right now. What's a good book for getting that?
Suggest away. I'll be buying or borrowing books soon. If I wind up reading something especially good, you'll be sure to hear about it here. Thanks!


George Mearns said...

I've been reading Bruce Feiler's "American Prophet" about the history of Moses in the US. Some interesting ideas are found in it so far.

Brian said...

have you read the "Gift of the Jews" by Cahill? loved it. I guess it would fit as broad theology.

Last fiction I read may have been Gilead, by...uhh..marilyn robinson, maybe. anyway, neat story about a preacher up north. can't remember a lot now except I really enjoyed reading it

Frank Bellizzi said...

Thanks for the recommendations, guys.