Book Reviews

David Brondos, Fortress Introduction to Salvation and the Cross

(Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2007.)

In Fortress Introduction to Salvation and the Cross, David Brondos, Professor of Theology at the Theological Community of Mexico, surveys soteriological constructs ranging from the book of Isaiah to 21st century theologian Rosemary Radford Reuther.

Brondos' writing style is clear and readable, and while his treatment of biblical voices at times presents an overly harmonized picture of "canonical" soteriology, his handling of later theological voices reveals the diversity of subsequent Christian positions on redemption and salvation, as well as Christianity's departure from its Jewish roots. His book is peppered with artwork from various traditions and epochs in Christian history, providing a nice compliment to the book's thick theological content.

Peterson, Eugene H, The Jesus Way: A Conversation on the Ways that Jesus is the Way

(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2007.)

I will start with a disclaimer - I'm biased toward Eugene Peterson. The first article I read by him was "The Unbusy Pastor," back in 1981,[1] and it remains a favorite, even if I am still not as unbusy as Peterson would recommend. The article opens with a classic Peterson thesis-articulate, counter-cultural, and concrete:

The word busy is the symptom not of commitment but of betrayal. It is not devotion but defection. The adjective busy set as a modifier to pastor should sound to our ears like adulterous to characterize a wife, or embezzling to describe a banker. It is an outrageous scandal, a blasphemous affront. Hilary of Tours diagnosed our pastoral busyness as "irreligiosa solicitudo pro Deo," a blasphemous anxiety to do God's work for him.

Sholem Asch, One Destiny: an Epistle to the Christians

(trans. by Milton Hindus; New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1945, 88 pp.)

Sholem Asch was among the most beloved writers in Yiddish literature for the thirty or more years leading up to the Second World War. Encouraged by the great Yiddish writer I.L. Peretz and vigorously promoted by Abraham Cahan in the Forverts, Asch gained a wide and loyal readership based upon his early, loving depictions of Jewish life in the shtetl in works such as The Town and Wealthy Reb Shlome and his later historical novels that include Kiddush Ha-Shem, Three Cities and Salvation. The publication of his life of Yeshua entitled The Nazarene in 1939 proved to be a turning point in his reputation among his Yiddish readers. Although this work garnered accolades in the English speaking world from such respectable sources as the New York Times Book Review and the Saturday Review of Literature, it had a far more mixed reception among Jewish critics.[1]

Communicating God's Word In A Complex World: God's Truth Or Hocus Pocus?
By Daniel R. Shaw and Charles E. Van Engen Rowman And Littlefield
(©2002 Lanham, Md.)

Daniel Shaw is Professor of Anthropology and of Bible Translation at the Fuller Theological Seminary School of Intercultural Studies, Pasadena, CA. Son of missionary parents, he grew up in South India and the southern Philippines. With an M.A and Ph.D. in Anthropology, he and his Jewish wife Karen served for twelve years (1969-1981) with Wycliffe Bible Translators to the Samo tribespeople, former cannibals in Papua, New Guinea. His Ph.D. is from the University of Papua, New Guinea. He has been at Fuller Seminary since 1981.

Imperialism And Jewish Society, 200 B.C.E. To 640 C.E. by Seth Schwartz
(Princeton University Press © 2001 Princeton, NJ.)

In Imperialism and Jewish Society, 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E., Seth Schwartz, the Gerson D. Cohen Professor of Rabbinic Culture and Professor of History at Jewish Theological Seminary, offers a challenging blow to regnant reconstructions of Judaism and Jewish life in the Hellenistic and Roman periods. Schwartz's compelling sweep of Jewish history from 200 B.C.E. to 640 C.E. "traces the impact of different types of foreign domination on the inner struc­ture of ancient Jewish society, primarily in Palestine." (1) Schwartz argues that from the 2ND century B.C.E. Jewish society in Eretz-Yisrael developed as "a loosely centralized" but "ideological complex society" which collapsed in 70 C.E. and "reformed" and reemerged in the fourth century in response to the establishment of Christianity in the Roman Empire. (Ibid.) As a social historian, his primary concern is "how societies work." (2) He "assumes that there are such things as societies and regards societies as usually complex, organism-like systems that can be understood by analyz­ing the relations of their component parts." (3) Pervious works on this period such as Martin Jaffe's Early Judaism1 or Shaye Cohen's From the Maccabees to the Mishnah2 have endeavored to locate the development of Judaism in the wider socio-historical context of the Mediterranean world. Schwartz departs from such a one-dimensional analysis of religious development to explore the impact of imperial culture on Jewish society of which religion (Judaism) is but one constituent part.

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