Sunday, November 13, 2005

My biggest order of books ever. Pt 1

In my doctoral work I've moved into a phase of more intense exegetical engagement with the Pauline-corpus, and so I decided to buy a number of books to further the cause (Life is great: wife earns money, and I spend it ... on books – for research, of course). In fact, I've never bought so many books at once, and, OK, admittedly not all of them are immediately and directly relevant to my thesis in an unequivocal, precise and explicit sense. But isn't being postmodern also about allowing a degree of ambiguity? Well I'm convinced.

And gladly, today, I received my first package from Amazon:

  • Jewish Messianism and the Cult of Christ, by William Horbury. A superb book (displaying impressive learning) maintaining that the roots of Christ-devotion in the NT church is to be found in the 'praise' of Jewish Kings. This coupled with an interpretation of 1st century Jewish monotheism as 'inclusive' rather than 'exclusive' explains the nature and development of early Christology. I had to buy this book as this is one that the otherwise fantastic Tübingen library misses, and because he is one of my main debate partners for my thesis. Ultimately I suggest his argument leads to an under-appreciation of the sort of Christ-devotion actually evidenced in the NT.
  • Walking with the Poor: Principles and Practices of Transformational Development Theology, by Bryant Myers. Hardly related to my thesis, I admit, but the relation of the church to the poor an oppressed has been exercising me much recently (read my post Poor Lenses for more on that one).
  • Happiness and Contemplation, by Josef Pieper. Again, sure, not unambiguously and directly related to Pauline Christology, if one insists on thinking two-dimensionally. However, I want to change the fact that I am terribly ignorant of anything Catholic related, and this book was recommended in McLaren's Generous Orthodoxy.
  • My Ministry Manual by Rev. Gerald Ambulance, by Stephen Tomkins. Ok, once again I cannot honestly describe this one as relevant to my studies. Actually, its about as germane to my thesis as a years subscription to FHM. But, hey, one needs to be able to have a break and a good laugh every now and then too. And so far it is a seriously funny book – although I can't help feeling he goes too far sometimes.
4 down, 21 more still to come ...


At 11/14/2005 12:30 AM, Blogger Ben Myers said...

An order of 25 books! Good heavens, your wife must be working three jobs to support you....

At 11/14/2005 11:50 PM, Blogger eddie said...

I ordered 12 books of once, that was a good day... But even better was the day they arrived! They were good titles too

Alas, twos only possible because the titles were all reduced by atleast 70%. And it aint gonna happen agen soon, both me and my wife are students :(

At 11/15/2005 6:38 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Eddie, I understand. For a while, Anja and I were only students too.

At 11/15/2005 6:41 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Ben, gives new meaning to Proverbs 18:22 don't you think?

At 11/19/2005 11:56 AM, Anonymous dan said...

Hold on... you bought a book because it was recommended by McLaren???

Please go ahead and read RC material (how can one not read Rahner, Balthasar, Matera, etc.) but why bother with "A Generous Orthodoxy"? Why not "Resident Aliens" by Hauerwas and Willimon, "The Open Secret" by Newbigin, or "The Shape of the Church to Come" by Rahner? I really cannot understand what the big deal is with Mclaren. Maybe you can help me out?

At 11/19/2005 11:57 PM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Hold on... you bought a book because it was recommended by McLaren???
From the 'tone' of these words, I get the feeling that you don't really like Brian!

And yes, I've been meaning to read something of Newbigin in more depth, but as yet have only managed to skim-read of few of his books.

Why not "Resident Aliens" by Hauerwas and Willimon
I'd be interested to hear more of your thoughts on this one ...

I really cannot understand what the big deal is with McLaren. Maybe you can help me out?

I don't think there is a particularly 'big deal'; I am not on a McLaren 'bandwagon'. But for many of us who have come from a more Fundie background, McLaren was easier to relate to than many, and his works more sensitive to the sort of questions that arise in the light of such a religious background.

Furthermore, while his books may not be a paragon of academic exactitude (and I find myself in considerable disagreement with him at times), they are still very much worth a read. Given his own faith-story, he has something original to offer, sometimes simply in terms of the perspective cast by his evangelical background, but also, sometimes, in the way he engages with questions (cf. particularly the last in his Trilogy series – the one on hell). On top of that, his books are highly readable. I would also add, I think his books are a good bridge for many evangelicals to start the sometimes painful yet invigorating journey of honest engagement with certain theological questions. Were I to put some of the books you were suggesting into the hands of some from my Christian tradition, they simply wouldn't get beyond chapter 1! Finally, his books tend to delightfully reflect the fact that he has been, for many years, in pastoral ministry, rather than academia. His books, then, have a unique pastoral touch to them.

However, to reiterate, I am in disagreement with Brain over a few important issues, and I would certainly not like all to follow his conclusions.

I hope that helps.

At 11/20/2005 1:47 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

oh yes, I forgot to say Dan, apart from all of the reasons outlined above, I unashamedly confess that I continue to learn a great deal from Brian, whether it be his books or audio messages.

At 11/24/2005 11:19 AM, Anonymous dan said...


Alas, it's crunch-time and I have hardly any time to engage in blog dialogues these days.

I've actually written a few responses to your comment and then deleted them because I felt they sounded too harsh (towards McLaren). I don't know... McLaren makes me feel like we're spending a lot of time drinking milk when there is so much more solid food out there. Sadly, I think that's rather symptomatic of North American Christianity. We never seem to get past the milk.

Plus, I think the milk may be a little sour. I have concerns about the way McLaren treats language, the topics he neglects, and (especially) his understanding of the Church. But, then again, I've always had trouble appreciating authors that are more pastoral so this could just be an issue with me (i.e. I'll settle for Moltmann's and von Balthasar's treatments of universalism instead of picking up the third book of McLaren's trilogy).

That said, I really think (post)fundies should be reading Hauerwas. But I suppose it might be too much to ask fundies to read the postliberals. The three authors who have probably influenced me the most (if I can narrow it down to three!) are Tom Wright, Jurgen Moltmann, and Stan Hauerwas. You ask me about Hauerwas but the question is sort of vague. I'd love to chat about him. Where do you want to start (if you want a book I'd suggest The Peaceable Kingdom)?

At 12/02/2005 9:24 AM, Blogger Chris Tilling said...

Thanks for your response Dan, for putting such thought into it, and for managing such restraint!

McLaren may be more milky than others, for sure, but it could be maintained that one needs to start with milk before the solids. Actually I'm not so convinced that he is just milk. His book on hell, for example, doesn't merely defend a universalist position, and doesn't even come to a point of resolution – part of his point. At the very least, he gives courage (encourages) many to start thinking for themselves. And lets not forget: he is the first step for many, and starting a theological journey often doesn't even start in evangelical and fundamentalist circles. Yet I've noticed that many (not all, I know) of those who read McLaren tend to carry on asking questions and move into deeper theological reflection. I'm thankful for that!

As for your concern about McLaren's ecclesiology, I couldn't agree more! That is one of my major concerns too.

All the best,

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