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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


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Review Essays of Academic, Professional & Technical Books in the Humanities & Sciences


Christian Literature: An Anthology edited by Alister E. McGrath (Blackwell) presents a well-balanced selection of literature inspired with Christian themes. Given the huge possibilities available to the editor McGrath has erred toward the classics and not included less well know but important works. Christian Literature: An Anthology is a solid work for survey courses. It gathers together writings drawn from 2000 years of Christian history. Assuming no prior knowledge of Christian theology or history, it offers students in one volume, a rich and diverse selection of material. The work offers substantial introductions to each text under discussion, along with study questions to assist interaction with texts. The 'Study Panels' embedded in the text act as critical notes, offering easy access to critical information about the writers and their texts.

The pieces included fall into three broad categories: works of literature specifically written to serve the needs of Christians - such as prayers, devotional works, and sermons; works of literature, such as stories and poems, which are not specific to the Christian faith, but which have been shaped or influenced by Christian ideas, values, images, and narratives; and works of literature which interact with Christian ideas, individuals, schools of thought, or institutions, such as novels by George Eliot and Thomas Hardy.

Christian Literature: An Anthology is primarily concerned with the Christian literature of the English language (including Old English and Middle English), although it also includes material relating to the patristic period originally written in Greek, Latin and Syriac, and medieval and Renaissance works in Latin. Substantial sections of writings are included, rather than brief excerpts, to allow readers to really enter the mind of the author represented. The material is divided into five chronological sections stretching from the patristic period to the modern period, and within each section authors are also arranged chronologically. Considerable care has been taken to ensure that the work avoids denominational bias.

About the editor:
Alister E McGrath is the Principal of Wycliffe Hall in Oxford. Among his many textbooks with a British flare include: Christian Theology: An Introduction, Christian Theology Reader, Christian Spirituality: An Introduction, Historical Theology: An Introduction, and Science and Religion: An Introduction. He is now preparing for press a third edition of Reformation Thought: An Introduction.


The Structure of the Work.
Christian Literature: An Introduction.
Part I: The Patristic Period c.100-600:
Clement of Rome.
The Martyrdom of Polycarp.
Irenaeus of Lyons (c.130-c.200).
Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullian (c.160-c.225).
Eusebius of Caesarea (c.260-340).
Athanasius of Alexandria (c.296-373).
Ephramium the Syrian (303-73).
Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-87).
Gregory of Nyssa (c.330-c.395).
The Peregrinnation of Egeria (c.384).

Augustine of Hippo (354-430).
Part II: English and Irish Sources c.600-1050:
Caedmon's Hymn (c.670).
Bede (c.673-735).
The Deer's Cry (c.700).
The Dream of the Rood.
The Junius Code.
The Exeter Book Riddles.
The Blicking Homilist.
Part III: The Middle Ages, 1050-1500:
Anselm of Canterbury.
Peter Abelard.
Ancrene Wisse: Guide for an Anchoress.
Thomas Aquinas.
Hugh of Balma.
Dante Aligheri.
The Cloud of Unknowing.
William Langland.
Geoffrey Chaucer.
Julian of Norwich.
The York Mystery Plays.
Thomas Kempis.
William Dunbar.
Part IV: Renaissance and Reformation, 1500-1700:
Erasmus of Rotterdam.
Martin Luther.
Ignacious Loyola.
John Calvin.
John Foxe.
Edmund Spenser.
The King James Version of the Bible.
Sir Walter Raleigh.
Lancelot Andrewes.
John Donne.
George Herbert.
Sir Thomas Browne.
John Milton.
Henry Vaughan.
Andrew Marvell.

Blaise Pascal.
John Bunyan.
The Book of Common Prayer.
Part V: The Modern Period 1700-2000:
Joseph Addison.
Daniel Defoe.
Joseph Butler.
Jonathan Edwards.
John Wesley.
C Wesley.
John Newton.
William Paley.
William Wordsworth.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge.
John Keble.
Ralph Waldo Emerson.
Anthony Trollope.
Benjamin Jowett.
George Eliot.
Fyodor Mikhailivich Dostoevsky.
Matthew Arnold.
Thomas Hardy.
Gerald Manley Hopkins.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton.
T. S. Eliot.
Dorothy L. Sayers.
C. S. Lewis.
Graham Greene.
Martin Luther King.
David Lodge.
Garrison Keillor.
A Glossary of Christian Terms.
Sources of Extracts.

A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature edited by Frederick W. Danker, Walter Bauer, and William Arndt (University of Chicago Press) This revision was done with the needs of beginning students as well as scholars in mind. It incorporates new research, new information, and analyses of key terms while rendering translations into contemporary English. It is quite simply the standard lexicon of New Testament Greek in English. There are no competitors. Knowledge of basic Greek is required to use A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature well. It offers the best possible usage of most Koine Greek words by comparing the usage in the NT and the writings of Josephus, Philo and early Christian writers. This helps one discern how the early church used certain Greek words and may approach a historical critical understanding of NT usage and grammar. No other lexicon is so thorough and concise. Highly recommended.

Described as an "invaluable reference work" (Classical Philology) and "a tool indispensable for the study of early Christian literature" (Religious Studies Review) in its previous edition, this new updated American edition of Walter Bauer's Wrterbuch zu den Schriften des Neuen Testaments builds on its predecessor's staggering deposit of extraordinary erudition relating to Greek literature from all periods. Including entries for many more words, the new edition also lists more than 25,000 additional references to classical, intertestamental, Early Christian, and modern literature.

In this edition, Frederick W. Danker's broad knowledge of Greco-Roman literature, as well as papyri and epigraphs, provides a more panoramic view of the world of Jesus and the New Testament. Danker has also introduced a more consistent mode of reference citation, and has provided a composite list of abbreviations to facilitate easy access to this wealth of information.

Perhaps the single most important lexical innovation of Danker's edition of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature is its inclusion of extended definitions for Greek terms. For instance, a key meaning of "episkopos" was defined in the second American edition as overseer; Danker defines it as "one who has the responsibility of safeguarding or seeing to it that something is done in the correct way, guardian." Such extended definitions give a fuller sense of the word in question, which will help avoid both anachronisms and confusion among users of the lexicon that may not be native speakers of English.

Danker's edition of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature is an indispensable guide for Biblical and classical scholars, ministers, seminarians, and translators, all who care about serious exegesis.

For a more mainline treatment, ecumenical and cogent reader’s guide to both OT and NT is well served by the complimentary reference works HarperCollins Bible Dictionary and Bible Commentary. HarperCollins Bible Dictionary edited by Paul J. Achtemeier, Roger S. Boraas, and Michael Fishbane (HarperCollins). A revised edition of the definitive Bible reference provides valuable information on the texts of the Old Testament, New Testament, and Apocrypha, featuring 3,700 alphabetical entries, 179 contributors, hundreds of illustrations, maps, and photographs, and pronunciation keys.

HarperCollins Bible Dictionary is the most complete, up-to-date, and accessible guide for the study of the Bible available today. With more than 3,700 lively, informative and easy-to-use entries, this essential reference book provides all the information you need to fully understand the Bible.

Whether you're a member of the clergy or a student of Scripture, you'll find all the important names, places and subjects that make Bible study come to life. From Aaron to Zurishaddai, here are all the people, events and ideas of biblical times whether its the ages of the patriarchs, judges, kings and prophets or the world of the New Testament and the early church. Other significant topics include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Nag Hammadi Library, the archaeology of the biblical world and the history of the English Bible, as well as new sections on African-Americans and the Bible, feminist interpretations of Scripture and a completely updated pronunciation guide. More than a quarter of the articles in this book are new or totally revised from the first edition of the Bible Dictionary.

Each of the 193 contributors to HarperCollins Bible Dictionary; Protestant, Catholic and Jewish affiliates of the Society of Biblical Literature, is a leading authority in his or her field. Each entry presents the nonsectarian, consensus view of those most knowledgeable in the area.

Filled with explanations of biblical beliefs and language and insights into the culture and customs of the people who lived in biblical times, HarperCollins Bible Dictionary will help anyone interested in Scripture more fully appreciate the meaning and message of the Bible.

About Editors: Paul J. Achtemeier is Professor of Biblical Interpretation at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. A widely respected authority on the Bible, he is the author or co-author of 14 books, former editor of the quarterly Interpretation, and New Testament editor of the Interpretation Biblical Commentary Series. Professor Achtemeier has also been chief executive officer and president of the Society of Biblical Literature, and president of the Catholic Biblical Association.

The Editorial Board of the revised edition of HarperCollins Bible Dictionary includes associate editors; Roger S. Boraas, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Religion, Uppsala College; Michael Fishbane, Ph.D., Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Chicago Divinity School; Pheme Perkins, Ph.D., Professor of Theology (New Testament), Boston College; and William O. Walker, Jr., Ph.D., Professor of Religion, Trinity University. The Society of Biblical Literature is a seven-thousand-member international group of experts on the Bible and related fields.

The HarperCollins Bible Commentary by James L. Mays, Joseph Blenkinsopp, and Beverly, R. Gaventa sets a new standard with its innovative and highly readable format. The HarperCollins Bible Commentary features individual commentaries on each of the 84 books of the Old Testament, New Testament, and Apocrypha, 16 pages of color photos, 16 pages of color maps, and is cross-referenced with HarperCollins Bible Dictionary. Together these fully revised editions of the The HarperCollins Bible Commentary and HarperCollins Bible Dictionary are the most up-to-date reference work of its kind for understanding and interpreting the meaning of the Bible. The accessible and highly readable format is ideal for home reference as a companion to informed Bible reading.

The Commentary and Dictionary cover all of the Hebrew Bible, as well as the books of the Apocrypha and those of the New Testament, and thus addresses the biblical canons of Judaism, Catholicism, Eastern Orthodoxy, and Protestantism. its innovative format of The HarperCollins Bible Commentary covers the books of the Bible in three ways:

1.      General essays setting the literary, cultural, and historical context for the entire Bible Articles introducing major sections of the Bible Commentaries on the individual books themselves by the finest contemporary biblical scholars

2.      The HarperCollins Bible Commentary is unprecedented in its clarity, organization, and insight into the Bible. Helpful cross-references to its companion, the HarperCollins Bible Dictionary, mean that readers will have all they need to explore the riches of the Scriptures for years to come.

3.      Every section of the Commentary offers concise and authoritative guidance that will enable the reader to return to the text equipped to understand and appreciate the Bible more fully. Each of the eighty-three contributors to this splendid volume is a leading expert in his or her field and a member of the Society of Biblical Literature. They have produced a volume that belongs in homes, schools, houses of worship, and libraries -- wherever there is a Bible.

General editor James L. Mays is the Cyrus McCormick Professor of Hebrew and the Old Testament Emeritus at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, Virginia. He has served as president of the Society of Biblical Literature and is a widely respected author and editor.

The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words edited by Verlyn Verbrugge (Zondervan Interpreting the Bible Series) This exegetical tool is keyed to the popular with conservative Christians New International Version (NIV) translation of the NT. It is also keyed to the Greek but unlike A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words offers some transliterations of key terms. Its importance and use compliments the critical historical orientation of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature with a more explicitly developed theological point of reference. As an abridgment of the four-volume work edited by Colin Brown, The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (CD-ROM edition), The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words offers the doctrinal core information of each of the present dictionary entries. The NIV Theological Dictionary of New Testament Words has been arranged according to English topics, with several Greek words often discussed under a single subject heading. This abridgment is arranged with its entries in Greek Alphabet order, which makes it much easier for the user to find the discussion of particular Greek words. All Greek words are transliterated into English. This book is a marvelous companion to Bill Mounce’s English-Greek Study Bible. Each article is a single running text from an evangelical theological perspective. All Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the NIV. 

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine by Wayne Grudem (Zondervan) This introductory textbook of evangelical theology has several distinctive features: a strong prominence to the scriptural basis for each doctrine; clear, well balances expository prose, with technical terms defined and kept to a minimum; and a contemporary evangelical approach, treating subjects of special interest to the church today. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine represents a faire introduction to the well-balanced evangelical scholarly practice.

The Christian church has a long tradition of systematic theology, that is, studying theology and doctrine organized around fairly standard categories such as the Word of God, redemption, and Jesus Christ. This introduction to systematic theology has several distinctive features: - A strong emphasis on the scriptural basis for each doctrine and teaching - Clear writing, with technical terms kept to a minimum - A contemporary approach - A friendly tone, appealing to the emotions and the spirit as well as the intellect - Frequent application to life - Resources for worship with each chapter - Bibliographies with each chapter that cross-reference subjects to a wide range of other systematic theologies.

About the Author:
Wayne A. Grudem (B.A., Harvard; M.Div. Westminster Seminary; Ph.D., Cambridge) is chairman of the Dept. of Biblical and Systematic Theology at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Deerfield, Ill. He is the author of The First Epistle of Peter (Tyndale New Testament Commentaries) and The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today, and is the co-editor (with John Piper) of Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood. He is a past president of the Evangelical Theological Society.

African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Text and Social Texture edited by Rosemary C. Rodman and Vincent L. Wimbush (Continuum) These ground breaking essays open-up the rich textures of the African American experience and appropriation of the Bible, its social vision and moral imperative. A unique study of how the Bible "constructs" African Americans and how African Americans "construct" the Bible.

Perhaps no other group of people has been as much formed by biblical texts and tropes as African Americans. From literature and the arts to popular culture and everyday life, the Bible courses through black society and culture, like the Mississippi through the American heartland. Despite the enormous recent interest in African American religion, relatively little attention has been paid to the diversity of ways in which African Americans have utilized the Bible.

African Americans and the Bible is the fruit of a four-year collaborative research project directed by Vincent L. Wimbush and funded by the Lilly Endowment. It brings together scholars and experts (sixty-eight in all) form a wide range of academic and artistic fields and disciplines-including ethnography, cultural history, and biblical studies and also music, film, dance, drama, and literature.

The focus is on the complex interaction between the people known as African Americans and that complex of rhetorics, visions, and ideologies known as the Bible. As such, the book is less about the meaning(s) of the Bible than about the Bible and meaning(s), less about the world(s) of the Bible than about how worlds and the Bible interact-in short, about how a text constructs a people and a people constructs a text. It is about a particular socio-cultural formation but also about the dynamics that obtain in the interrelation between any group of people and sacred texts in general. Thus African Americans and the Bible: Sacred Text and Social Texture provides an exemplum of socio-cultural formation and a critical lens through which the process of socio-cultural formation can be viewed.

Partial contents:

Reading Darkness, Reading Scriptures
-The Study of the Bible as Ethnography
-The Study of the Bible as Socio-Cultural Hermeneutics
-The Study of the Bible as Cultural-Historical Reality

-Flight, or Cultural De-formation and Discovery of the Self-in-Marronage
-Settlement, or Formation of the Self-and-Worlds-in-Marronage
-Negotiation, or Re-form(ul)ation from the Site of Marronage

-"It's Not Just a Church Thing"
-"It's Not Just a Christian Thing"
-"It's Not Just a Black Thing"
-"It's Not Just an American Thing"
-"It Is an Academic/Intellectual Thing"
-"Some Things about It Are Disturbing"
-"It's How Women Read Themselves and the World"
-"It's Not a Change of Color but a Whole Change of Subject Kind of Thing"

Beyond the Guild: Liberating Biblical Studies

About editor:
Vincent L. Wimbush is professor of New Testament and Christian origins at Union Theological Seminary in New York. He is the author of Asceticism and the New Testament; editor of Ascetic Behavior in Greco-Roman Antiquity: A Sourcebook; Discursive Formations, Ascetic Piety, and the Interpretation of Early Christian Literature; and co-editor of Asceticism.

 AN INTRODUCTION TO CHRISTIANITY by Alister McGrath, $27.95, paper, 444 pages, glossary, Internet resources, bibliography

Blackwell Publishers


This textbook offers a comprehensive introduction to Christian history in four main sections. The first deals with the person Jesus and the nature of the biblical record. The second deals with the evolution of theological positions in Christianity, the third with a social history of the Christian churches and the concluding section with the relationship of Christianity with the modern world. It attempts to address all believers and nonbeleivers.

At some point around the year 60, the Roman authorities woke up to the fact that there seemed to be a new secret society in the heart of their city, which was rapidly gaining recruits. They had not the slightest idea what it was all about, although it was clearly due to some agitator. The reports that filtered back spoke of some mysterious and dark figure called "Chrestus" or "Christus" being the cause of all the trouble. But who was he? And what was it all about?

‘The authorities had little hesitation in blaming this new religious movement for the great fire which swept through Rome in 64. The Roman historian Cornelius Tacitus gave a full account of this event some fifty years later. In this account, he refers to "the Christians," a group who took their name from someone called "Christus," who had been executed by Pontius Pilate back in the reign of Tiberius. This "pernicious superstitition" had found its way to Rome, where it had gained a huge following. It is clear that the term "Christian" has its origins as a term of abuse. Yet, muddled and confused though the official Roman accounts of this movement may be, they were clear that it centered, in some way, on the figure of "Christus." It was not regarded as being of any permanent significance, being seen as something of a minor irritation. At worst, it was a threat to the cult of emperor worship.

Yet three hundred years later, this new religion had become the official religion of the Roman empire. Where once Roman historians dated events from the founding of the city of Rome, those events would now be dated from the coming of Jesus Christ.

So what was this new religion? What did it teach? Where did it come from? Why was it so attractive? How did it come to be so influential in its first few centuries? What happened after it had achieved such success at Rome? And how has it shaped the lives of individuals and the history of the human race? It is these questions which this book Will attempt to answer. The study of Christianity is one of the most fascinating, stimulating and intellectually and spiritually rewarding undertakings available to anyone This book aims to lay the foundations for such a study, opening doors to discovering more about the world's leading religion.

This introductory book is divided into four parts. The first part focuses on the founder of Christianity, Jesus of Nazareth. This part explores both the sources of our knowledge of Jesus in the Bible, and the Christian understanding of the importance of Jesus. The second part offers an overview of Christian doctrines, aiming to bring out the main themes of Christian thinking. Particular care Will be taken to ensure that the doctrinal differences between Christians are identified and discussed. The third part provides a survey of Christian history, exploring the way in which Christianity, expanded and developed during the first two thousand years of its existence Finally, the fourth part explores Christian life, focusing on the way in which Christianity impacts on everyday living. This part will focus on everyday church life - such as worship and church architecture. It will also trace the way in which Christianity has shaped, and been shaped by, the cultures into which it has expanded and found a home.

To introduce Christianity properly would take at least three times the amount of material than is presented in this book. By definition, an "introduction" can do little more than whet the appetite for more. The reader of this volume will find plenty of advice about where to turn next for further reading, contacts with Christian organizations, or exploring the vast network of Christian resources available on the Internet. Adapted from the introduction.

Study Panels
Maps, Diagrams and Tables
Why Study Christianity?
How to Use this Book
Exploring Christianity from the Outside
Pt. I. Jesus of Nazareth: the Founder and the Sources
1. The Christian Bible: an Introduction
2. The Old Testament
3. The New Testament
4. The History of Jesus
5. The Significance of Jesus: the New Testament
6. The Significance of Jesus: the Christian Tradition
Pt. II. The Teachings of Christianity
7. The Creeds of Christianity
8. The Sources of Christian Teaching
9. The Teachings of Christianity
Pt. III. The History of Christianity
10. The Early Church to c. 700
11. The Middle Ages, c. 700 to c. 1500
12. The Reformation of the Church, 1500-1750
13. Christianity in the West, 1750 to the Present
14. The Rise of Christianity in the Developing World
Pt. IV. The Christian Way
15. The Christian Life
16. Modern Christianity: an Overview of its Forms
Christian Resources on the Internet
A Glossary of Technical Christian Terms
Further Reading
Software Packages Relating to the Study of Christianity

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