The Reading List – Aug 6 – 12

1) Practicing Theology: Beliefs and Practices in Christian Life edited by Miroslav Volf and Dorothy Bass (which, on the spine, reads, “Volf/Bass”, to which I had mild chuckle). I picked this book up because I wanted to read some Volf. The book itself, though, is a collection of essays on the above topic. The quality, however, is up and down. The best takeaways come from the examples that some of the authors produce and were involved in. The horrible parts were the chapters that were nigh on unreadable – long sentences, highly rarefied academic speak, etc. The whole book is not worth a read, and I would not recommend one do so.

2) Israelite Religions: An Archaelogical and Biblical Survey by Richard Hess. This book is about what we know of the ‘on the ground’ experience of religion (rather than theology). That is to say, it’s about the evidence we have for what people might actually have thought and felt, and also, how well the Biblical testimony goes with the various archaeological evidences we have. Hess takes a conservative point of view on the matter, showing that, on the whole, there are no good reasons for not taking the Biblical record as pointing to a broadly accurate picture. For example, various scholars, especially history of religion types and those who like to generalise, have assumed that the various cultic rituals and levitical codes were too complex, based on their ideas on how complex religion could be, or rather, how complex they thought it should be. However, contemporaneous records in other sites show that other religions were in fact more complex (partly due to having more gods to appease, etc). Also these other sites attest similar festivals, and so, theories of origins for some Israelite festivals – imagine, if you will, a JEPD breakdown of Exodus 12 and bits of Leviticus – are basically dumb and unfounded. This book would probably go well with A Biblical History of Israel. Heartily recommended.

Comments are closed.