James Jordan is one of the very best teachers on how to read the Bible. He studies the Bible like an English Literature professor studies Shakespeare.James Jordan is one of the very best teachers on how to read the Bible. He studies the Bible like an English Literature professor studies Shakespeare. He digs in and looks for clues for what the text is saying in ways that I've not seen done by anyone else. "Primeval Saints" is a study of the patriarchs in Genesis.
Here is a simple example of what I mean. Did you know that the "keeper of the prison", where Joseph was held, after being accused of attempted rape, in Genesis 39-40, was Potiphar, the very same man who was the man whom he had served as a slave? The text says it, if you read closely, but I never saw that myself, nor have I ever heard it said before.
Or, have you ever read or heard a positive explanation of why Joseph tested his brothers in the way he did? Jordan argues that he was testing them, "Joseph acted to redeem them from bondage and enthrone them with him as lords of the world." I won't get into all the details of the argument, but again, it is there for those who take the time to actually study the text closely, and it is quite a lesson.
The book is full of a wide range of insights including a thorough defense of Jacob, who is widely criticized as a fraud and cheat, who stole his birthright from his brother. But this is not at all what the Bible actually teaches. From the beginning, Jacob was chosen to be the heir of Isaac. He's described as being the same kind of man as Noah, Abram, and Job: "perfect, complete; sound, wholesome; complete, morally innocent". Yet nearly all translations offer "plain" or "quiet"--as their translation of the Hebrew root.
Jacob was loved by Rebekah because he was the same sort of man as Abram. Isaac preferred Esau against the prophetic word that God has said, saying "the older will serve the younger." But not only that, Esau had married outside of the covenant, and had already despised his birthright. For Isaac to give him the covenant blessing and inheritance would have been to spurn the covenant of his father, Abraham.
So for Rebekah to work to ensure the inheritance and blessing went to Jacob was not only to benefit Jacob, but "to shock and restore Isaac." At the same time, it was an act of prayer, by sending Jacob in the guise of his brother, Esau, she prayed that Esau too would receive a blessing. Jordan writes, "We can see this in the way she ritually combined both her sons together when she sent Jacob in to deceive Isaac."
Suffice it to say, this is a wonderful book that is a model for engaging, insightful study of God's Word. If more theologians would engage the Bible this way, I expect more people would glean far more from the Bible than they do.
I picked up "The Case for Christ" after seeing previews for the movie that will be coming out. The idea seemed interesting to me, and I'd never read aI picked up "The Case for Christ" after seeing previews for the movie that will be coming out. The idea seemed interesting to me, and I'd never read an apologetics book of this type. What I found was a very different book than I expected. The movie is evidently written to dramatize Strobel's actual conversion in 1981, whereas the book is written 18 years later, when Strobel travels the country interviewing scholars.
The setup of the book is a bit confusing, since it isn't clear if he's a believer at the outset, and his interactions with the many scholars in the book are from the perspective of an unbeliever. But at the end, he makes it clear that he's been a believer for 18 years, and that the tenor of the book is really just a dramatization of his experience when he read a large number of books that ultimately lead him to his conversion. This setup didn't quite work, in my opinion. I can understand what he was trying to do, but it just didn't work to stage the high drama of his real conversion, because it was already accomplished years prior.
In any case, the book is still very interesting, especially for those that haven't heard the arguments presented throughout the book. Each chapter deals with specific questions about things like the reliability of the New Testament--particularly the gospels, the evidence for the resurrection of Christ, and answering the numerous objections of skeptics and atheists.
Strobel does a good job of asking questions and the scholars he's selected do an outstanding job of defending the Bible and demonstrating its internal consistency. The strength of the book is in the presentation of the objections and the answers given. They are catalogued in a very helpful way, that will help those that are looking to answer the objections of skeptics as they witness to them. None of the answers are new, or cannot be found in other places. But the way they are organized will be a help to apologists.
My main criticism of the book is the way in which it is framed. Strobel tells the reader in the beginning to examine the evidence and then come to a conclusion. This is a dangerous apologetic, as it tells the individual to sit in the seat of judgment over God and his Word. Yet all believers know that it is not man that is God's judge, but the other way around. It is God and his Word that sits in judgment over man and his rebellion. To encourage people to invert this order is very dangerous, and dishonoring to God, through whom all things are made and sustained.
That being said, we must all be persuaded in our own minds of the reliability of the Bible and of the truthfulness of God's Word, but this is very different than being the judge of whether these things are true or not. The arguments presented in this book are evidence of the truthfulness of the Bible, but are not the pillars of its support. It is God's very nature and character that support the reliability of the Bible--for God cannot lie. His very Word is truth.
We must be able to answer objections, and we must not shy away from hard questions. But we should not put ourselves, or encourage others to sit in the seat of judgment over God. Witnessing to non-believers is never solely about answering objections but in a positive witness to the love of God in the person of Jesus Christ. Showing that the objections have an answer helps unbelievers see that there is a reasonableness to Christian faith, but that is not the goal, it is merely something to overcome in getting to the gospel.
This is not a big part of the book, as it makes up only a few pages in the entire book. But the whole setup of the book is couched in this very motif of examining the evidence and making a judgment. Therein lies the danger....more
Fowler does a good job of laying out the case for the importance of defining what the requirements are for a microservice before being "production-reaFowler does a good job of laying out the case for the importance of defining what the requirements are for a microservice before being "production-ready." But she also builds on this by arguing for scheduled reviews that ensure the service still meets the requirements as it evolves over time.
The book is a bit repetitive, but the core ideas are solid and will help any organization as they deconstruct their monolith into microservices....more
Ravelstein is a seemingly thinly veiled memoir of philosopher Allan Bloom, who is probably best known for his book "The Closing of the American Mind."Ravelstein is a seemingly thinly veiled memoir of philosopher Allan Bloom, who is probably best known for his book "The Closing of the American Mind." The parallels are too coincidental to be easily dismissed.
There are some interesting portions of the book, and it is well written. Bellow is absolutely a gifted writer. But the storyline plods along slowly, and the narrative meanders such that I struggled to keep going at many points.
Ultimately I found the book to be disappointing, for the hollowness of its philosophy. Ravelstein is a Plato scholar who naturally rejects the afterlife, and is a nihilist, who in life, admires those nihilistic philosophers who live according to their principles. But in the end, facing his own death, he falls back upon his Jewish heritage, and cannot escape the religion of his people. Yet there is no conversion, only a sort of falling back into the comfort it provides.
Chick, who is given the task of writing Ravelstein's memoir, remembers his friend fondly, and has a genuine love for him, yet he is unable to do more than fall back upon the discipline of his own youth to survive his own near-death experience.
This is an unsatisfying work that has questions without answers. It is as Ravelstein would want it to be, nihilism "with the abyss." But even Ravelstein couldn't finish his life according to such a creed, it is almost impossible for man to do so, because he bears the image of God.
Gilgamesh is one of the world's oldest stories. This edition by Geraldine McCaughrean is really good, much better than the more literal translations,Gilgamesh is one of the world's oldest stories. This edition by Geraldine McCaughrean is really good, much better than the more literal translations, which I'd read earlier.
The story is engaging, the pictures are fun, for younger readers especially. But she does a great job of turning the ancient story into more of a universal tale than I recall in the "original."...more