BA Books & Authors on the Web – April 15, 2016

Cover ArtScott Sunquist was interviewed on the Bible Gateway Blog about his book The Unexpected Christian Century.

“In 1900 religionists—people following and studying religions—assumed Islam would become the religion of Africa. They were wrong. They thought Christianity would remain strong in the West. They were wrong. They assumed Christianity would continue to look Mainline, Catholic, and Orthodox. They were wrong: Pentecostalism was not even a concept at the time.

Historians were wrong because they and politicians were progressive; they thought everything would get better and better. The Russian Revolution, Armenian genocide, and the Great War put all those ideas to bed.”

Robert Sherman’s Covenant, Community, and the Spirit was reviewed at The Gospel Coalition.

Norman Wirzba’s From Nature to Creation was featured as part of an essay in Duke Magazine.

Scot McKnight, at Jesus Creed, continued his series on Neither Complementarian Nor Egalitarian by Michelle Lee-Barnewall.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – March 4, 2016

Cover ArtCraig Bartholomew’s Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics was the Book of the Week at Exegetical Tools.

“Truly a tour de force of the many methodologies, historical precedents, and disciplines that are wrapped up in the process of interpreting the Bible.”

Exegetical Tools also featured two posts on specific aspects of Introducing Biblical Hermeneutics, Craig Bartholomew’s Philosophy of History Drawn from the Old Testament Worldview and Eight Guidelines for a Trinitarian Hermeneutic.

At Pneuma Review, Amos Yong reviewed Apocalypticism in the Bible and Its World by Frederick J. Murphy.

David Wilhite’s The Gospel According to Heretics was reviewed by Nate Claiborne.

Cover ArtThe Gospel Coalition interviewed Bryan Litfin about his book Early Christian Martyr Stories.

“The appetite for these stories was huge. People wanted to learn about their heroes’ adventures, and they wanted to feel close to those heroes and even seek their aid.”

RJS, at Jesus Creed, completed a series on J. Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth.

Norman Wirzba, author of From Nature to Creation, was interviewed at Christian Humanist Profiles.

 

BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 22, 2016

Cover ArtNorman Wirzba’s From Nature to Creation was reviewed at Theology Forum.

In From Nature to Creation, Wirzba invites the reader to develop “an imagination for the world as created, sustained, and daily loved by God” (3). Few Christians would argue that we ought not to have such an imagination — nearly all Christians confess such a belief. So, the problem is, then, living as if that is true.

In case you missed it, Gracy Olmstead reviewed From Nature to Creation for Christianity Today.

At Jesus Creed, RJS examined J. Richard Middleton’s discussion of judgment and apocalyptic literature in A New Heaven and a New Earth.

9Marks reviewed Defending Substitution, by Simon Gathercole.

The Pastor as Public Theologian, by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan was featured in Hearts & Minds Bookstore’s Best Books of 2015 – Part One, and From Nature to Creation by Norman Wirzba was featured in Part Two.

 

BA Books & Authors on the Web – November 6, 2015

Cover ArtNorman Wirzba, author of From Nature to Creation, was interviewed at Jesus Creed.

“How we name things determines how we are going to relate to them. I don’t treat a “weed” the same way as I treat a “flower” even though both are plants. If the world is a “store” we will position ourselves as consumers. If the world is God’s “creation,” and we appreciate what that name means, then we will have to position ourselves in unique ways.”

Also, From Nature to Creation was reviewed by Alvin Rapien at The Poor in Spirit.

Mike Penza shared his favorite quotes from The Pastor as Public Theologian, by Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan.

Derek Rishmawy attended the recent Center for Pastor Theologians’ conference, and reflected on the messages of Baker Academic authors Peter Leithart, James K.A. Smith, and Kevin Vanhoozer.

Cover ArtKhaled Anatolios’ Retrieving Nicaea was reviewed at Marginalia.

“Along the way, as Anatolios directs, the reader proceeds beyond the coherence of Nicaea to its beauty and truth. In this refusal to separate doctrine and spirituality, action and reflection, Retrieving Nicaea provides a lasting contribution to both church and academy.”

Mike, at Brave Daily, reflected on the 10th anniversary of Inspiration and Incarnation by Peter Enns, and the new updated edition.

Handbook of Religion, edited by Terry Muck, Harold Netland, and Gerald McDermott, was reviewed at Sojourner Theology.

Cover ArtJames K.A. Smith was interviewed at The Living Church.

Could you briefly describe your own academic trilogy?
Desiring the Kingdom (2009) is an overview account of human beings as liturgical animals, so reading culture liturgically. Also, what would Christian education look like? Imagining the Kingdom (2013) covers how worship works. Awaiting the King (2017), its working title, will focus on political theology. If the body of Christ is the outpost of the city of God, how does that shape us for political engagement? How does it also relativize our tendency to partisan ideologies? I want to rewrite Augustine’s City of God for the 21st century. Augustine’s analysis of the Roman Empire is liturgical and so he’s looking at the rites of Rome.”

BA Books & Authors on the Web – October 30, 2015

Cover ArtAt Syndicate Theology you can read reflections on Jesus against the Scribal Elite from Dagmar Winter, Tobias Hägerland, Christopher Skinner, and Jason Lamoreaux, along with responses from Chris Keith.

“Chris Keith’s book, Jesus against the Scribal Elite, defends the claim that two factors are intimately related, namely a) Jesus’ status as an illiterate teacher and b) his conflict with scribal authorities. This is to say that conflict arose between Jesus and the scribal elite because of “how various groups within Second Temple Judaism would have perceived Jesus, a scribal-illiterate carpenter, upon his occasionally occupying the position of a scribal-literate authority” (155).”

Simon Gathercole’s Defending Substitution was reviewed by D. A. Carson at Reformation 21.

At Ponderings on a Faith Journey, Robert Cornwall reviewed From Nature to Creation by Norman Wirzba.

David Wilhite’s The Gospel according to Heretics was reviewed at Tabletalk Theology and recommended by Erik Raymond at The Gospel Coalition.

The Christian Humanist interviewed Kevin Vanhoozer about The Pastor as Public Theologian.

 

Our Garden Context – an Excerpt from From Nature to Creation

The following is an excerpt from From Nature to Creation, by Norman Wirzba.

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It is of profound theological and anthropological significance that the earliest biblical creation story places human beings in a garden. Why this agrarian setting as opposed to some other?

Bonhoeffer suggested the setting represented a fantasy: for the Israelites, living as they did in an arid region and on marginal land, what could be more magnificent than a garden with rich soil, abundant water, and trees laden with beautiful and delectable fruit? This is why he argued that the garden imagery of this story needed to be translated into the language of today’s technical world (CF, 81‒83).

Cover ArtWe should ask if Bonhoeffer’s judgment is not itself a reflection of a modern, urban forgetfulness of and bias against agrarian ways of understanding human identity and life, ways that were common to most of humanity in the last ten thousand years, and that were presupposed by the writers and hearers of Scripture. Is not the rebellion against creatureliness that Bonhoeffer powerfully describes mirrored in humanity’s longstanding rebellion against the land? Perhaps the agrarian, garden setting, along with the practical sympathies and sensibilities it makes possible, is crucial because of its unique ability to illuminate our condition.

I should be clear at the start that my advocacy for agrarian sensitivities and responsibilities is not a recommendation that all people be farmers or professional gardeners. Owing to the complex intelligence and diverse skill set required, and the practical, logistical problems associated with moving a large population “back to the land,” relatively few people are cut out for this kind of work.

What I am arguing is that all people, no matter their location and occupation, must appreciate the fundamental importance of the land as the source and destination of their life, and therefore also make an encompassing, practical commitment to implement and support economies that promote the health of people and land together. This is no small matter, especially if we acknowledge that throughout much of history, economic “success” has been at the expense of, and has exhausted, the land.

Agrarian sympathies are crucial because without them people run the risk of distorting the character of their lives. Working with the land, people come to understand the importance of the practices of attention and care, seeing that without a commitment to care for the soil and all its creatures, the prospect of a flourishing human life comes to an end. This is why in agrarian cultures people’s desires and expectations are calibrated to meet the needs of the land. There can be no healthy people without a healthy land to feed them and provide for their needs.

©2015 by Norman Wirzba. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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For more information on From Nature to Creation, click here.

 

The Death of Creation – an Excerpt from From Nature to Creation

The following is an excerpt from From Nature to Creation, by Norman Wirzba.

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Friedrich Nietzsche’s famous declaration of the “death of God” has never simply been about the murder and burial of a divine being. It has also been about the “death of a world” and, alongside that, the death of a whole field of meaning and human responsibility.

If God the Creator is dead, then so too is the world, understood as God’s creation. When the world ceases to signify as God’s creation, humanity’s place within it, indeed the very idea of the human being as creature, undergoes profound transformation.

Cover ArtAs Nietzsche described it in his aphorism “The Madman,” the definitive sign of the death of God is God’s absence from the world. The murderers of God, the ones Nietzsche identifies as normal people simply going about their day-to-day business, did not don some special armor and then scale some heavenly height to attack God. They didn’t have to. For God to die and be consigned to a tomb—or the graveyard next to the church—all they needed to do was live as if God were irrelevant, or as if God did not matter for the way they built communities, ran economies, practiced politics, and fueled their ambitions.

In other words, for God to die, all that is necessary is for people to imagine and implement a world in which God is an unwelcome, unnecessary, or unimaginable hypothesis. They only need to install themselves as godlike beings who bring whatever order and significance the world might be claimed to have. Consider it death by apathy, or arrogance, or boredom.

The murder of God is no simple thing. When God disappears, the whole world and human involvement with it changes. If at one time Christians may have thought life and material things had their meaning and significance in God (because the Triune God was believed to be their creator, sustainer, and ultimate fulfillment), to live in a modern or postmodern world means that things are . . . well, we are not exactly sure.

Are we and the things of this world genuinely valuable or meaningful if merely moments within a cosmic accident or perhaps pawns in a random game? Does anything have abiding significance? Does it even matter what we do?

Weighed down by the misery and cruelty of so much “life,” we may well side with Shakespeare’s Macbeth and judge that “life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player / that struts and frets his hour upon the stage / and then is heard no more: it is a tale / told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / signifying nothing” (5.5).

….The continued visible presence of church buildings does not guarantee the presence of God. Nor does it assure us that the people inside them will live in a God-glorifying manner.

The forces of modern culture and economy can be so dominant in the daily spheres of life—in the ways we shop, eat, run businesses, vote at elections, teach our young, and seek employment—that people can attend worship on holy days and be practical atheists for the rest. People can profess a verbal piety and claim they seek a taste of God, all the while consuming a steady diet of self-glorifying cakes.

Put another way, just as proclaimed atheists may find it hard to ditch the bad faith and hypocrisy at work in the modern substitutes for God that provide consolation, so too proclaimed believers may not appreciate the hypocrisy of a misplaced faith that has not learned to seriously scrutinize the idols of modernity that have taken God’s place.

©2015 by Norman Wirzba. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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For more information on From Nature to Creation, click here.

 

New Release: From Nature to Creation

Cover ArtHow does Christianity change the way we view the natural world? In this addition to a critically acclaimed series, renowned theologian Norman Wirzba engages philosophers, environmentalists, and cultural critics to show how the modern concept of nature has been deeply problematic.

Wirzba explains that understanding the world as creation rather than as nature or the environment makes possible an imagination shaped by practices of responsibility and gratitude, which can help bring healing to our lands and communities. By learning to give thanks for creation as God’s gift of life, Christians bear witness to the divine love that is reconciling all things to God.

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“With insightful analysis and lucid prose Norman Wirzba offers a winsome argument for reimagining the natural world as creation–lovingly made, sustained, and redeemed by the triune God….Few books I have read of late are as timely as this.” – Steven Bouma-Prediger, author of For the Beauty of the Earth

“In this, his most important book yet, Norman Wirzba asks the simple question: What difference would it make if we thought of the earth not as nature but as creation?….All we human creatures need to hear the message of this very fine book.” – Loren Wilkinson, Regent College

“Norman Wirzba writes with verve, alacrity, and theological sensitivity in laying out particular arguments for bringing back the importance of creation for a theological anthropology relevant to earth ethics.” – Celia E. Deane-Drummond, University of Notre Dame

“No one is better than Wirzba in describing modernity’s idolatrous and disastrous course and offering a Christian understanding of creation as the antidote.” – Larry Rasmussen, Union Theological Seminary, New York City

“A deeply hopeful book written in prose both artful and lucid, this confirms Norman Wirzba’s place as one of the finest theologians writing today.” – Fred Bahnson, author of Soil and Sacrament

From Nature to Creation is a soon-to-be-classic text on the theology of creation, and it has come to us not a moment too soon.” – Jonathan Merritt, senior columnist at Religion News Service

“In this wise, prophetic, and expansive book, Norman Wirzba offers us an extended meditation on creation with compelling eloquence.” – Brian J. Walsh, campus minister, University of Toronto

“Wirzba casts a profound vision of creaturely life….Sure to inspire a wave of theological explorations in both the academy and the church.” – C. Christopher Smith, founding editor, The Englewood Review of Books

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Norman WirzbaNorman Wirzba (PhD, Loyola University, Chicago) is professor of theology and ecology at Duke University Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. He is the author or editor of numerous books, including Food and Faith: A Theology of Eating, Living the Sabbath, Making Peace with the Land (coauthored with Fred Bahnson), The Essential Agrarian Reader, The Paradise of God: Renewing Religion in an Ecological Age, and The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays of Wendell Berry.

For more information on From Nature to Creation, click here.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – July 10, 2015

Cover ArtAt Exegetical Tools, Warren Campbell reviewed Stanley Porter’s How We Got the New Testament.

“Porter’s work will not only benefit the student as a substantial introduction to the many issues involved with the production, establishment, and transmission of the Greek New Testament, but it will also function as an excellence recourse for further study.”

Lindsay Kennedy, at My Digital Seminary, reviewed Encountering the Book of Romans by Douglas Moo.

Bob on Books reviewed Paul Heintzman’s Leisure and Spirituality.

“Many of us still struggle with reconciling the ideas of leisure and spirituality. After reading Heintzman’s book, these are a bit less of an oxymoron for me.”

Jennifer Guo, at Grace for Sinners, reviewed Praying with Paul by D. A. Carson.

At Learning While Teaching, Jerry Hillyer reviewed Karl Allen Kuhn’s The Kingdom according to Luke and Acts.

“I cannot say enough about how important and well done this book is and how, if you are a preacher, you should buy it, read it slowly, and carefully consider how you will challenge your congregation to live up to the high call of God.”

Linguistic Analysis of the Greek New Testament by Stanley Porter was reviewed at Diglotting.

At The Gospel Coalition, John Starke discussed James K. A. Smith’s excursion on “catching sleep” in Imagining the Kingdom.

Norman Wirzba’s forthcoming From Nature to Creation was included in the Englewood Review of Books25 Books to Watch for in the 2nd Half of 2015.