This is a classic work on the gospel work of Jesus Christ--why, how, and the significance of it. It is short, concise, a bit dense, and satisfactorily...moreThis is a classic work on the gospel work of Jesus Christ--why, how, and the significance of it. It is short, concise, a bit dense, and satisfactorily thorough on the meaning of Christ's incarnation.
This is a great work for the new Christian or a high school age reader to introduce them to big ideas and fortify their faith. Highly recommended.(less)
I picked this up after a great recommendation and review by a Goodreads friend. Having read the review I had an idea of what to expect, but I must say...moreI picked this up after a great recommendation and review by a Goodreads friend. Having read the review I had an idea of what to expect, but I must say I was quite surprised by this book. It is difficult to characterize the book as it was unlike any I'd ever read before.
This is actually a collection of four books previously published independently. The first is "The Sword in the Stone" which many are already somewhat familiar with because it is the source for the Disney movie of the same name. This first book is part Arthurian legend, part Monty Python, and part Disney-movie--as odd as that may seem. It is sheer fantasy and quite strange. If I'd not been previously warned to persevere through this book, I likely would have put the volume down after the first book.
White is a very self-aware narrator and brings the happenings of his times into the book in a way I've not seen done before. He's constantly talking about Bolsheviks and communists--even having the Arthurian characters using these words. This creates an odd mix of dialog that is both realistically medieval (old English and all) and 20th century (Cold War references and all). Like C.S. Lewis does in his Narnia books, he also uses modern allusions to help his readers understand something from the story. He writes as a synthesizer of Arthurian tales and comments frequently on the source material.
The fantasy elements--such as Wart being turned into various animals is extraordinarily strange, even within this volume, as nothing like this happens in any of the other books.
White anticipates Monty Python as well in the first book with the characters of King Pellinore and his Questing Beast are remarkably Pythonesque. The slapstick continues into the second book, but is largely gone by the time Pellinore's character is gone from the scene. There is humor throughout, but not in the same fashion.
I suppose the material forced White to get more serious, but the transition from comedy to gravity was strange. The story gets very serious and better as Arthur consolidates his power and enacts his vision for England.
This is what makes the book worth reading. White makes the Arthurian legends very accessible and engaging. He advances the story without bogging the reader down with rabbit trails and adventures that don't really advances the story as so many old tales do. He paces the book well and keeps the reader turning the pages to discover what happens next.
The themes of the story are fascinating and compelling. The central story line of the book deals with power or "Fort Mayne" as White calls it. The ancient and medieval world are predicated upon "might makes right" and despotism. Merlyn's desire (and prophecy) is to see Arthur create the modern world by delivering justice and mercy and defeating the old, despotic order.
Arthur creates the round table to harness the power of the old order to advance his vision, rather than their own might. He hopes the round table will suppress ambition and create equality among the knights. But instead, he finds that by using power to defeat power, he has created his own power caste intent on violence and gamesmanship. This leads to the Grail Quest and the destruction of Camelot, among other, older sins.
The primary problem I found in the book is with the theology. God and the church are hardly primary influence and authority in the book. Arthur, under Merlyn's influence, rejects original sin. He puts law and order above all--sacrificing all to it, at least until he actually HAS to, and he fails to remain true to his principles with Guenevere and Lancelot. God is not the final authority, and so much of what happens in the book seems arbitrary--including Arthur's judgments. Arthur's grand experiment fails of its own weight because it is a humanistic project.
I was also reminded of the moral perversity surrounding the grail quest. The tale is so bound up with medieval Catholicism and chivalry that it is morally perverse and superstitious. White couldn't do much here, without altering the tales, so we can't blame him here, but simply critique the theology.
Still, this is a great book. Get through the oddities of "The Sword and the Stone" and you'll find a gem.(less)
This is an interesting tale for the modern reader. Gilgamesh is the demi-god king of Uruk, challenged by Enkidu, the hairy wild-man created to be the...moreThis is an interesting tale for the modern reader. Gilgamesh is the demi-god king of Uruk, challenged by Enkidu, the hairy wild-man created to be the challenger and equal of Gilgamesh. They go on adventures, and are posed as threats to the gods themselves--in true pagan fashion.
It is a quick read--I read it in a little more than an hour. It is in the mold of Beowulf and I dare say Tolkien was influenced by the style.
One of the most interesting aspects of the story, of course, is Gilgamesh's encounter with Utnapishtim, the flood-survivor. He's clearly the Babylonian's representative for Noah. It is widely known that cultures around the world have their own version of Noah and of the world wide flood.
Ralph Smith doesn't understand how so many theologians have ignored Van Til's work on the Trinity. He examines Van Til's understanding of the Trinity,...moreRalph Smith doesn't understand how so many theologians have ignored Van Til's work on the Trinity. He examines Van Til's understanding of the Trinity, compares and contrasts it to Cornelius Plantiga's 'social Trinity' and then adds Kuyper's covenantal understanding of the Trinity to demonstrate how by combining the best of the three thinkers that the theology of the Trinity is fully Reformed and answers the philosophical problem of 'the one and the many.'
This is a great, short, yet challenging work on Trinitarian theology. Smith understands the significance of Van Til's work and seeks to advance it and force others to deal with Van Til when they would seemingly prefer to ignore him.