BA Books & Authors on the Web – February 20, 2015

Cover ArtIntroducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda, was reviewed on Odd Is The New Normal.

What this book does, in its amazing depth of research, is gather together thousands of years of theology and tradition into a single place…You can tell that this book was coauthored by teachers (good teachers) in their ability to organize and present such complicated material in a manner that is approachable and enlightening.

Bob on Books reviewed Engaging the Doctrine of Revelation by Matthew Levering.

Todd Johnson and Cindy Wu, co-authors of Our Global Families, wrote a guest post for A. J. Jacobs’ Global Family Reunion.

At Transpositions, Brett Speakman reviewed Jonathan Wilson’s God’s Good World.

Jordan Hillebert, at Reformation 21, reviewed Atonement, Law and Justice by Adonis Vidu.

At Pursuing Veritas, Jacob Prahlow reviewed Thomas O’Loughlin’s The Didache.

Asbury Journal reviewed The Story of Jesus in History and Faith by Lee Martin McDonald, Understanding Christian Mission by Scott Sunquist, Christian Philosophy by Craig Bartholomew and Michael Goheen, Simon Peter in Scripture and Memory by Markus Bockmuehl, and The End of Apologetics by Myron Penner.

At Solidarity Hall, John Medaille wrote Pop Culture and Total War, a reflection on Daniel Bell’s The Economy of Desire.

Andrew Root, author of Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker, was interviewed on Dr. Bill Maier Live.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – January 9, 2015

Cover ArtDerek Rishmawy, at The Gospel Coalition, explains “Why You Should Read Bavinck.”

“Bavinck’s accomplishment in the Dogmatics is nothing short of jaw-dropping. The expansive, nuanced, and deeply trinitarian theological vision is both intellectually challenging and spiritually nourishing. I anticipate turning to these volumes regularly in the years to come.”


Walter Moberly’s Old Testament Theology was reviewed at Euangelion.

Craig Blomberg reviewed A Peaceable Hope by David Neville, as well as The King in His Beauty by Thomas Schreiner, for the Denver Journal here and here.

Nate Claiborne reviewed Exploring Psychology and Christian Faith, by Paul Moes and Donald Tellinghuisen.

Chris Keith’s Jesus against the Scribal Elite was reviewed at CHOICE connect.

At Discovering the Mission of God, Ed reviewed Understanding Christian Mission by Scott Sunquist.

Andrew Root’s Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker was reviewed at Diglotting.

Michael Philliber, at Deus Misereatur, reviewed The Holy Trinity in the Life of the Church, edited by Khaled Anatolios.

Best Of

As 2014 came to a close, quite a number of Baker Academic titles were featured in “Best of” posts.

Galatians and Christian Theology, edited by Mark Elliott, John Frederick, Scott Hafemann and N.T. Wright, was named as one of “The Top (Mockingbird) Theology Books of 2014.”

At Crux Sola, Nijay Gupta listed Chris Keith’s Jesus Against the Scribal Elite, Galatians and Christian Theology, Jeffrey Weima’s 1-2 Thessalonians, and Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth among the “Best New Testament Academic Books of 2014.”

Women in the World of the Earliest Christians by Lynn Cohick, Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society edited by Susan Holman, Scripture and Tradition by Edith Humphrey, The Economy of Desire by Daniel Bell, and Loving the Poor, Saving the Rich by Helen Rhee were all in Alvin Rapien’s “Top 10 Books of 2014.”

The Missio Alliance Essential Reading List of 2014” featured Introducing Evangelical Ecotheology, by Daniel Brunner, Jennifer Butler, and A. J. Swoboda.

At Reformation 21, Michael Allen and Scott Swain’s Reformed Catholicity, Simon Gathercole’s Defending Substitution, Kevin Vanhoozer and Owen Strachan’s The Pastor as Public Theologian, and Richard Bauckham’s Gospel of Glory were noted as “New & Noteworthy Books in 2015.”


Scot McKnight reflected on Alistair Stewart’s The Original Bishops in the post “Paul and the Economic Justice Vision of Jesus“, and Richard Middleton’s A New Heaven and a New Earth led to his discussion “Revolution in Eschatology Today?

Andrew McGowan, author of Ancient Christian Worship, wrote “Incarnation and Epiphany: How Christmas became a Christian Feast” for ABC Religion and Ethics.


BA Books & Authors on the Web – August 22, 2014

Cover ArtWesley Ellis, at Living in the Kingdom, reviewed Andrew Root’s forthcoming Bonhoeffer as Youth Worker.

“Root looks to present Bonhoeffer’s youth ministry as a consistent lens for understanding his development of thought. Bonhoeffer’s theology didn’t develop out of the ether, but emerged from his relationships and from his engagement in the concrete lived experience of the young people to whom he ministered throughout his life.”

The Bible Gateway Blog interviewed Patricia Dutcher-Walls, author of Reading the Historical Books.

A number of Baker Academic titles were reviewed in the latest volume of Themelios, including:

Jennifer Guo reviewed Bruce Ellis Benson’s Liturgy as a Way of Life.

At The Poor in Spirit Alvin Rapien interviewed Daniel Bell, author of The Economy of Desire.

Kevin Davis, at After Existentialism, Light, reflected on Christopher Seitz’s The Character of Christian Scripture.

BA Books & Authors on the Web – September 13, 2013

Cover ArtSteve Bishop, at an accidental blog, reviewed James K.A. Smith’s Imagining the Kingdom.

“In the first volume, Desiring the Kingdom, Smith posed an exciting and outrageous question: “What if education wasn’t first and foremost what we know, but about what we love?” In this second volume he follows this up by suggesting that “our actions emerge from how we imagine the world: “What if we are actors before we are thinkers?” (p 32). Smith’s thesis is that we are defined more by what we worship than by what we think or believe. Thus we need to see more clearly how the affective affects the cognitive: to displace functional intellectualism, where what we do is the outcome of what we think”

Jamie Smith was also featured in the Calgary Herald article Faith Takes Practice, and Byron Borger recommended The Fall of Interpretation, Imagining the Kingdom and Desiring the Kingdom in a post about a new collection of Smith’s essays.

At Unsettled Christianity, Joel Watts reviewed Duane Watson and Terrance Callan’s Paideia commentary on First and Second Peter.

Cornelis Bennema reviewed Jonathan Pennington’s Reading the Gospels Wisely, for RBL.

Jeff Borden, at iCrucified, reviewed Classical Christian Doctrine by Ronald Heine.

Larry Hurtado recommended The World of the New Testament, edited by Joel Green and Lee McDonald.

Francis Moloney, author of The Gospel of Mark and the soon-to-be-released Love in the Gospel of John, was featured in two videos about Mark on Matthew Montonini’s blog,  New Testament Perspectives. reviewed Invitation to the Psalms, by Rolf and Karl Jacobson.

J.W. Wartick reviewed For the Beauty of the Earth, by Stephen Bouma-Prediger.

Charles Clark reviewed Daniel Bell’s The Economy of Desire, for Fare Forward.

Interview with Daniel Bell about The Economy of Desire

Briefly comment on the title of your book: The Economy of Desire. How did you land on that title, and how do you see it fitting into the Church and Postmodern Culture series?

The title of the book arises from one of the central things I have learned about the economy, namely, that the economy is about a lot more than just the allocation, production, distribution, and consumption of material goods and services. While it includes all these things, it also works at a deeper level. Economy shapes and forms our desires, our loves, and the longings of our heart, and this has tremendous implications for how we relate to ourselves, others, the rest of creation, and God. I hope the book encourages us to think about and discuss how economy affects these relations.

As I see it, the Church and Postmodern Culture series is meant to aid the church in engaging the culture in which we currently live. Over the last few decades there have been so many cultural shifts that it is understandable that the church might be tempted to go on the defensive, seeing all the changes that collectively are called “postmodernism” as a threat and a challenge to the faith. Certainly much of it is a challenge, but this postmodern world is also rich with opportunities for the faith. In this regard, as I reflect on this age, I am constantly drawn to Luke 10:2: “The harvest is plentiful.” In many ways, the passing of modernity presents the church with wonderful opportunities for growing in its mission. The Church and Postmodern Culture series is all about engaging some of the principal currents of postmodern thought for the sake of enriching the church’s life and practice.

Two of your conversation partners in The Economy of Desire are, in your words, “leading Marxist thinkers and vehement atheists”—Foucault and Deleuze. What can Christians learn from these thinkers, and why did you choose to engage these two specifically?

The church has a long history of “plundering the Egyptians,” as St. Augustine pointed out long ago. So even as we have little truck with atheism, and Marxism has shown itself as something decidedly less than liberative, we can nevertheless learn from the likes of Foucault and Deleuze. I might summarize the chief lessons I learned from Foucault and Deleuze in this way.

First, they help us see that economy is a discipline of desire. For example, capitalism disciplines desire so that we relate to one another instrumentally, as commodities in constant struggle, competition that is the logic of the market—a logic that is insinuating itself ever more pervasively in our lives. Likewise, it distorts human relations with God so that God appears to us as a kind of sadistic cosmic Easter bunny who does not redeem us from sin but only manages it. (For an explanation of the cosmic sadistic Easter bunny you’ll have to read the book.)

Second, Deleuze and Foucault challenge us to rethink social change. We are constantly encouraged to think that the nation state and government are the principal agents of social change. Their account of a postmodern “micropolitics” proves helpful in dislodging the state from the center of our thought and reclaiming Christian community as a substantial and significant force for social and political change. Indeed, I argue that the practices that constitute discipleship amount to an alternative political economy.

Third, Deleuze and Foucault help us recover the older Christian understanding of the faith as a therapy of desire. If, as I argue, capitalism disciplines desire and so distorts our relations with one another and God, the work of Deleuze and Foucault helps us envision Christianity as more than a set of beliefs or convictions. They help us reclaim Christianity as a set of practices or a way of life that amounts to a counter-discipline that heals desire of its sin-sickness, of its capitalist distortions, so that we may live in communion with God and our neighbors.

In your book, you look critically at capitalism and evaluate how it influences human desire and relations. Are there any redemptive aspects to capitalism?

“Redemptive aspects to capitalism.” An interesting choice of words. Apart from a few economists, I do not know of anyone who thinks capitalism is redemptive. The more interesting question is, does capitalism do any good? Yes. Clearly it does. For example, it feeds some, it employs some, it provides services to some, it provides some with resources to give away.

But doing good is not sufficient. What matters is if it does good in the right way.  Consider the temptation of Jesus as recorded in the fourth chapter of Luke. There Jesus is tempted by the devil not with evil things but with good. It would be good to feed the world, and it is a good thing that Jesus rules the kingdoms, and one day everyone will kneel before the Lamb in worship. And yet Jesus refuses all these goods. Why? Because merely pursuing a good is not good enough. Goods must be pursued in the right way. So, pursuing a good like feeding the world is not right if such a good requires bowing before the devil. It is for this reason that the Christian tradition has long recognized that sin and evil are a disordered pursuit of good things. That is the problem with capitalism. It pursues and in some cases provides goods in the wrong way.

In the second half of your book, you set up Christianity as an alternative economy to that of capitalism. Give us a taste of what that looks like.

This question really gets to the heart of the matter. Many will concede that capitalism is not perfect; it has its flaws. But, they say, given the alternatives, it is the best that we can do. The theological heart of the book is found right here: What is given? What does God give? What is God doing here and now to liberate us from sin? My argument is that God is delivering us from the sin that is capitalism here and now as we participate in the divine economy on display in a host of economic practices that have been part of Christian discipleship across the ages—from the ban on usury to the practice of a living wage to the constellation of practices known as the Works of Mercy (which are different from both philanthropy and welfare). All around us, in movements like the Catholic Worker, church-supported agriculture, fair trade, or the Economy of Communion, we catch glimpses of this alternative economy, which is not anti-market, anti-production, or anti-profit but rather situates all these practices in a moral context that renews and extends communion.

Daniel M. Bell Jr. (PhD, Duke University) is professor of theological ethics at Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in Columbia, South Carolina. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church and the author of Just War as Christian Discipleship and Liberation Theology after the End of History.

For more information on The Economy of Desire, click here.