I recommend this if you want a better understanding of what is going on in the world. It makes me sick to my stomach when I see the kind of nonsense t...moreI recommend this if you want a better understanding of what is going on in the world. It makes me sick to my stomach when I see the kind of nonsense that gets spread in emails, Facebook posts, and certain political groups regarding Islam. I believe Islam is a false religion and Muhammed a false prophet, but I am a Christian, which means that I refuse to use lies in my defense of the truth. If you are interested in having a clearer picture of what Islam is and especially where it is going, then this book will be of use to you.
That said, I do have to add this caveat: Aslan, like any writer, is biased. Obviously, as a muslim, he writes positively about Muhammed, most often referring to him as "The Prophet." But it is also important to point out his academic biases. Aslan is entirely caught up in the language and beliefs of the post-modernist "sociology of religion" school of thought. This is most evident when he speaks of Christianity, his understanding of which is almost entirely informed by liberal academics and catholic tradition. The result is that he gets it wrong at least as often as he gets it right where Christian belief, history, and scripture is concerned.
If you can get past that, you will benefit from his (liberal activist) perspective of Muslim history and the Muslim world. (less)
I was intrigued by Witherington's assertion that a key element to interpreting the NT literature is (what he calls) the socio-rhetorical context. Thou...moreI was intrigued by Witherington's assertion that a key element to interpreting the NT literature is (what he calls) the socio-rhetorical context. Though I'm not at all schooled in rhetoric, his arguments make a lot of sense.
However, I found the book a bit of a chore to read. Witherington's writing has always left me with an impression of arrogance and stereotypical scholarly snottiness, and this book didn't do much to change that impression. It was written on a much more technical/academic level than I had anticipated. I first heard of this book right after it's release when I saw Witherington discussing it in an interview on - of all places - a comedy central late night show (either the Daily Show or Colbert Report, I can't remember which). That being the case, I wasn't expecting a particularly academic book. Furthermore, there were times when I felt like the book was little more than a collection of unrelated essays, each of which was dealing with one or another unorthodox interpretation that Witherington has become convinced of. The strand that (according to the closing paragraph) was supposed to be binding all these chapters together was Socio-Rhetorical analysis, but too often that strand seemed to vanish - leaving me wondering what on earth Witherington was on about in THIS chapter. Perhaps that is an indication that I did a poor job as a reader, but I suspect that in this case it is also the fault of poor writing.
...which is a shame because I'd like to hear more about the socio-rhetorical context of the Scripture.(less)
I was somewhat underwhelmed. I've seen a number of Chan's videos and have been impressed by his ability to communicate, and I have seen a number of my...moreI was somewhat underwhelmed. I've seen a number of Chan's videos and have been impressed by his ability to communicate, and I have seen a number of my friends give rave reviews of the book. Perhaps I came at it with such high expectations that it was impossible to live up to them. That said, I'm sympathetic to much of what Chan is saying. I feel like I hide behind the "skirt" of what the church is NOT about and conveniently forget what I as an individual Christian AM about. If you read the book, expect to be challenged as Chan is pretty blunt and not the least bit afraid to challenge the status quo. It would be tempting to read his words only in the context of denominational evangelicals ("You tell 'em!") and fail to make personal application of the valid points his raises.(less)
I wish I had studied through this commentary on my own. Instead, my reading was tethered to our Sunday morning Genesis class which roughly translated...moreI wish I had studied through this commentary on my own. Instead, my reading was tethered to our Sunday morning Genesis class which roughly translated should be read 'at a snail's pace'. However, that allowed me a lot of time to digest the suggestions made by Ward and those who he (extensively) quotes - many of which I found enlightening. Initially, I was annoyed by the quantity of quotations, but I've since come to appreciate it. They give a pretty good indication of the various commentators positions without my having to go read each and every one of them. The only real beef I had was what seemed to me to be an excess of apologetic arguments for young Jacob. I simply can't see Isaac as the bad guy in chapter 27. That said, Ward somewhat makes up for it by giving what is (to me) a fresh evaluation of Leah and Rachel. All in all: a good and helpful read.(less)