Archives For People

 

Economics as if People Mattered

A Review of

The Wound and the Blessing: Economics, Relationships, and Happiness

Luigino Bruni

Paperback: New City, 2012.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Joe Davis

 

Has anyone ever told you, in a harsh, menacing tone: “I mean business”? We use this phrase to remind, or rather warn, others of our serious resolve towards the completion of a goal at any expense we deem necessary, especially our relationships with others. If people “mean business,” they are obsessed by a single-minded pursuit of their objective and it is best not to stand in their way. Consider also the common saying, “Its just business.” We use this phrase when we want to communicate a certain sense of apathy towards an interpersonal relationship. Continue Reading…

 

“Communing in a
Vibrant Corporate Life”

A Review of
People and Place:
A Covenant Ecclesiology.

by Michael Horton.

 Reviewed by Kent Ellett.

 

People and Place:
A Covenant Ecclesiology.

Michael Horton.
Paperback: WJK Books, 2008.
Buy now:  [ ChristianBook.com ]

 


People and Place: A Covenant Ecclesiology is the fourth and final volume in Michael Horton’s contemporary restatement of Reformed systematic theology.   His work is erudite and ecumenical in scope, but Horton is bold, unwilling to give an inch of what he considers Reformed ground.  Over and against the “chaos of Evangelical individualism” Horton describes the Church as the locus of God’s special gracious activity amidst covenantal relationships.   Here is a champion of grace, who finds the church’s identity in preaching, baptizing and communing in a vibrant corporate life.   The reader will find in Horton not just a Reformed thinker, but a conversation partner of the first order.

        Engaging (or more often contending with) contemporary movements within evangelicalism, post-liberal narrative theologians, and traditional Anabaptist, Lutheran, Catholic and Orthodox traditions, Horton is particularly concerned to make sure that ecclesiology does not usurp Christology.  He fears that some doctrines of salvation take “participation language” too far and conflate Christ and the church.

        He traces what in his view is this deleterious theological tendency in Augustine’s conception of the “totus Christus” and the Eastern doctrine of deification.  Whether theologians spiritualize Jesus in order to make him just as present in the church as he ever was in the flesh (Origen and Schleiermacher) or by offering an over-realized eschatology that turns the Church into a “second incarnation” where the church becomes a self-justifying institution appealing to no higher authority than itself (the Roman tradition), Horton sees such thinking as disastrous.  For Horton, participationist soteriology and an over-realized eschatology that confuses Christ and church loom as ecclesial enemy number one and two in these pages. Continue Reading…

 


A Brief Review of Richard Horsley’s
Jesus in Context: Power, People and Performance.

 

Review by Chase Roden.

Richard A. Horsley has spent his career complicating the Bible — or at least prevailing interpretations of it.  In this collection of ten reworked and expanded essays, the professor emeritus presents an overview of a few aspects of his work, looking back at the fragmentation of biblical studies of the last few decades while suggesting avenues of advancement for future scholars integrating literary and sociological approaches to the Bible.

The book’s sub-title alludes to Horsley’s particular areas of interest — “power” referring to dynamics between the ruling class and commoners in the biblical era, “people” to Horsley’s desire to reveal the stories of common people in Mark and Q (the hypothetical source for large sections of Matthew and Luke’s gospels), and “performance”
to the idea that Mark and Q were primarily transmitted orally. Horsley works these themes into arguments against several notions common to biblical studies of the last 50 years, such as the idea of a monolithic “Judaism” from which Jesus sought to break away, the dominance of the verse or “saying” over the larger story, and the assumption of general literacy among the early church.

The book’s strongest sections deal with Mark and Q as “people’s histories” of the Jesus movement.  Horsley attempts to separate the narratives of the “great tradition” — that is, history as dictated by the ruling classes — and the “little tradition” of the common people,
presenting a compelling portrait of Judea and Galilee of antiquity as a political landscape of oppression by foreign occupiers and the “temple-state complex.”  The author believes that modern biblical-historical scholarship has created anachronistic divisions among economics, religion, and politics, which the ancients would have seen as one in the same.  The Jesus movement is then less about founding a new religious system than it is a peaceful peasant uprising seeking just treatment from the ruling class, which includes religious authorities.

Horsley builds his argument for Mark and Q as people’s histories on the idea that literacy was extremely limited in the world of the Bible; written sources such as Josephus and even much of the Hebrew Bible are generally suspect, as the very act of writing places an
author in the ruling class.  Horsley finds evidence of oral transmission in Mark and Q and thus finds it possible that we have in these writings a rare example of a written history sympathetic to the peasant class.

The primary shortcoming of this book is that it does not interact significantly with Biblical scholarship of the last 20-30 years.  Horsley argues against J. D. Crossan’s portrayal of Jesus as a Cynic-like sage — stating that Crossan presents a Jesus with no cultural memory and no Israelite identity — but then seems to assume naively that Biblical scholars persist in seeing Jesus’s mission as one of starting a new religion over and against a monolithic “Judaism.”  Horsley also seems only vaguely aware that Biblical scholarship has largely moved away from interpretation on the “micro” level of individual verses and “sayings” and into the realm of the full narrative and canonical criticism.

This book would best be used in an undergraduate-level class or an advanced adult education class in a church with a teacher willing to explain the terms and concepts to a lay audience.

Jesus in Context: Power, People and Performance.
Richard Horsley.

Hardcover: Fortress Press, 2008.
Buy now: [ Doulos Christou Books $21 ]   [ Amazon ]