Book review: Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes

This is quite simply one of the best and most enlightening books I have read about Jesus and the Gospels.

I have learnt so much that has helped me make better sense of the gospels and of my faith (although I am certainly not claiming to be like Maria in the Counting Crows song, Round Here, who says she is “close to understanding Jesus”!)

Let me tell you why I am so enthused.

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Book review: Disarming Scripture

Disarming Scripture by Derek Flood

The Old Testament world was a violent place.

For a christian, the most troubling violence is surely that said to be commanded by God, whether it be Abraham being commanded to sacrifice his son and heir Isaac, Joshua commanded to exterminate Canaanites who are unfortunate enough to be living in the “Promised Land”, the command through Elisha that Jehu should kill all the family of the line of Ahab (Joram, Jezebel and all their relatives), or many other incidents.

Christians must face the challenge: if God commanded these killings, how can we say he is loving?

This book addresses the question of violence attributed to God in the Bible, and how that can be consistent with the non-violent teachings of Jesus. And it comes with recommendations from no lesser luminaries than Walter Brueggemann, Brian McLaren, Peter Enns, Jim Wallis and Brian Zahnd.

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Do normal people take risks for Jesus?

I am currently re-reading Chasing the Dragon, Jackie Pullinger’s remarkable story of “life and death in Kowloon Walled City”. It tells how the lives of thousands of poor and addicted Hong Kong residents were dramatically changed as they were miraculously healed of heroin addiction.

It also speaks to me of how God can use an unusual person who is willing to risk following the way of Jesus.

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Book review: The Jesus Legend

jesus-legend

Some books on Jesus and the New Testament are clearly apologetic in nature, seeking to argue or defend a certain viewpoint, whether it be sceptical or believing.

Other books clearly aim at being academic, impartial, seeking to advance academic opinion.

This book, which is almost a decade old, is kind of both. I have only recently read it, and I think it is worthy of a review.

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After the gospels, one of the best (and shortest) books you’ll read about Jesus

rbauckham

You wouldn’t even try to count the number of books written about Jesus. Most of them would have value, I guess, but some are long and scholarly, others lack a good historical basis.

But here’s one that is short, written by a respected historian and is encouraging to faith. What’s not to like?

It is the best introductory book about Jesus I have read. I think you’ll find it helpful and stimulating, and you’ll want to lend it out. Here’s why.

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Truly a great alternative

Book review

Book cover

I wonder what comes into your mind when you read the word “Anabaptist”? Or the word “Mennonite”?

Perhaps, like me until a few years ago, you might remember these words from the time of the Reformation, when Anabaptists were a loose collection of idealistic “fringe” christians persecuted by Catholics and Protestants alike for the “sin” of baptising adult converts. And weren’t Mennonites serious people wearing funny clothes who appeared in a film with Harrison Ford ? No wait, they were Amish.

In fact the Mennonites are a denomination that is often very contemporary, and Anabaptist thinking is being seen by many as cutting edge and very relevant to today’s word, as this book, A Living Alternative, shows.

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Struggling with church

Book: Finding Church

About two years ago, this book was published. I reported on it here because I am one of 37 christians who relate some of their experiences of church in the book. (My chapter is copied on this site, at Church and me.)

When I received my copy of the book, I read a number of the chapters, but never finished it and never reviewed it here, and other books became higher on my reading list.

But these summer holidays I went back to it and read every story. It was well worth the read.

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Book review: Alister McGrath’s biography of CS Lewis

CS lewis book

CS Lewis was probably the biggest influence on my young christian faith. I read virtually everything of his I could get hold of, especially enjoying Mere Christianity, Miracles, The Pilgrim’s Regress, That Hideous Strength, The Last Battle and his essays Is Theology Poetry? and Modern Theology and Biblical Criticism. I read his autobiography, Surprised by Joy and the first book of his letters.

As I grew older I moved onto other writers, and only occasionally went back to Lewis, but I remain a fan. So I was very pleased to receive this book for a Christmas present, and had read it before New Year.

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