Sunday, March 4, 2018

Reading Report

I've just finished reading A New Heaven and New Earth: Reclaiming Biblical Eschatology, by J. Richard Middleton. It's a fine book, making the Biblical case--to put it simply--that God's plan is to restore his creation. I didn't need convincing* where this matter was concerned, but I'd never seen the Biblical case made so thoroughly. The final chapter, looking at the ethical consequences of this eschatological understanding--how then should we live?--was the highlight, even though it only scratched the surface.

*N. T. Wright's Surprised by Hope (one of m favorite books) dealt with this same issue.

Next up, Reading the Gospels Wisely: A Narrative and Theological Introduction, by Jonathan T. Pennington. I'm really looking forward to this one. I recently read his book, The Sermon on the Mount and Human Flourishing, which I found to be profoundly helpful. In short, I've become a fanboy of Jonathan Pennington.

Clearly, my reading has taken a turn toward the theological. Another recent book for me was What is Biblical Theology?, by James Hamilton. It's a brief and inspiring book. It has rekindled my interest in reading the Bible attentively. Anyway, I recommended it to my pastor, who knew the author from his days at Southern Seminary. Now my pastor is urging the whole church to read it, so it looks like I'll be going through this one a second time (and I know it'll be worth it!).

So I'll be pursuing "Biblical theology" beyond the Hamilton book (I've put a few likely volumes on my Amazon Wish List). Biblical theology, as opposed to the "systematic" kind, is tied to the Biblical narrative. In other words, rather than extracting various theological concepts from the Bible and arranging them in a sort of encyclopedia (that would be systematic theology), Biblical theology is tied to the progressive unfolding revelation, the arch of the Biblical narrative. Meaning is not extracted from the Biblical narratives but found within it. That's my understanding thus far, anyway.

But another subject that I've only recently become interested in as a kind of sub-category of Christian theology is Biblical ethics. The question is, how should the Bible, the revelation of God's wisdom, his plan for creation, impact how we are to live? Or: given the foundational truths of the Bible, how then do we define the virtuous life?

What are some books on the subject? Well, one that is high on my to-read list is N. T. Wright's After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters. Another might be David Gushee's Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context.

Anyway, that's my reading report. Good reading to you!

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