February readings

Some books that I read recently.

Nicholas R. Needham, 2000 Years of Christ’s Power, Part One: The Age of the Early Church Fathers, Evangelical Press. I have read the second and third volume of this four-volume series of church history before I bought the first volume (which were not available when I bought the second and the third volume). I enjoyed thoroughly the previous volumes and likewise with this volume. The author was able to narrate the church history in simple terms and left the more complex part for the footnotes. For the first volume, I was familiar a bit with the era of the Church Fathers, particularly up until Augustine, due to a course that I took last semester with TTC. But I’m not familiar with what happened afterwards. So, from this book, I gained a better understanding of what happened after the fall of the Western Roman Empire, and about the Christology controversy which brewed after the Arian controversy was settled. And the Christology controversy was much, much more complex than the Arian controversy. Bleh. Otherwise, my litmus test of orthodoxy has not really changed: it’s still the Nicene-Constantinople creed. Overall, a good read for those who wanted to grasp a better understanding of the early church history.

Tremper Longman III, How to Read Exodus, IVP. This is the fourth installment of the ‘How to Read’ series from the author. The previous titles were How to Read the Psalms, How to Read Proverbs, and How to Read Genesis. First the author established the literary shape of Exodus, before reading it in the light of its Ancient Near Eastern context. For example, what do we gain from comparing the Moses birth story with the Sargon birth story? Or, the Sinaitic covenant with the Hammurabi law? Longman also spent a few chapters to discuss about the evidence of Exodus event, and whether the parting of the Sea really mattered if it happened or not. Longman then continued with an overview of Exodus. He divided it into three main sections: Exodus event (chapters 1-18), covenant and giving of the law at Sinai (chs. 19-24), and building of tabernacle (chs. 25-40). And he closed with a section on how to read Exodus in the light of Christ event, again according to the three main sections of Exodus which Longman proposed earlier: how Christians experience Exodus for themselves, the meaning of the Law for Christians, and God who tabernacled among us as Flesh. Overall, a simple and good read for an introduction to Exodus (the whole series is worth reading as well!).

Bart D. Ehrman, Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why, HarperCollins. Author’s bias notwithstanding (heck, who isn’t?), in my opinion, this is a pretty well-written introduction to the field of textual criticism: “a branch of literary criticism that is concerned with the identification and removal of transcription errors in the texts of manuscripts.” The New Testament has been preserved in more than 5800 Greek manuscripts, 10000 Latin manuscripts, and 9300 manuscripts in various languages (Syriac, Slavic, Ethiopian, Armenian). And they don’t always agree with each other. So, the question is: what is the original reading of the text? Textual criticism basically deals with this question. And Ehrman is able to describe in a simple manner some techniques that were used by the textual critics to establish the ‘original’ reading of the text. Good book.

And a book that I bought recently, using an SKS voucher.

Karl Barth, Epistle to the Philippians, WJK. Now in total I’ve spent around $72 for 12 books that I acquired this year. Not bad, huh, thanks to pretty good bargains recently. Now I can spend a little bit more for the FES book order. Yep, I have had a lot of books in mind! Tolle, lege!

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