Ten Theology Books to Watch For – July 2018

July 12, 2018 — Leave a comment

 

Here are a some excellent theology* books that will be released this month:

* broadly interpreted, including ethics, church history, biblical studies, and other areas that intersect with theology

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The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals 

Melani McAlister

Oxford UP

More than forty years ago, conservative Christianity emerged as a major force in American political life. Since then the movement has been analyzed and over-analyzed, declared triumphant and, more than once, given up for dead. But because outside observers have maintained a near-relentless focus on domestic politics, the most transformative development over the last several decades–the explosive growth of Christianity in the global south–has gone unrecognized by the wider public, even as it has transformed evangelical life, both in the US and abroad.

The Kingdom of God Has No Borders offers a daring new perspective on conservative Christianity by shifting the lens to focus on the world outside US borders. Melani McAlister offers a sweeping narrative of the last fifty years of evangelical history, weaving a fascinating tale that upends much of what we know–or think we know–about American evangelicals. She takes us to the Congo in the 1960s, where Christians were enmeshed in a complicated interplay of missionary zeal, Cold War politics, racial hierarchy, and anti-colonial struggle. She shows us how evangelical efforts to convert non-Christians have placed them in direct conflict with Islam at flash points across the globe. And she examines how Christian leaders have fought to stem the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa while at the same time supporting harsh repression of LGBTQ communities.

Through these and other stories, McAlister focuses on the many ways in which looking at evangelicals abroad complicates conventional ideas about evangelicalism. We can’t truly understand how conservative Christians see themselves and their place in the world unless we look beyond our shores.

 

 

The Elder Testament: Canon, Theology, Trinity 

Christopher Seitz

Baylor UP

The Elder Testament serves as a theological introduction to the canonical unity of the Scriptures of Israel. Christopher Seitz demonstrates that, while an emphasis on theology and canonical form often sidesteps critical methodology, the canon itself provides essential theological commentary on textual and historical reconstruction.

Part One reflects on the Old Testament as literature inquiring about its implied reader. Seitz introduces the phrase “Elder Testament” to establish a wider conceptual lens for what is commonly called the “Old Testament” or the “Hebrew Bible,” so that the canon might be read to its fullest capacity.

Part Two provides an overview of the canon proper, from Torah to Prophets to Writings. Seitz here employs modern criticism to highlight the theological character of the Bible in its peculiar canonical shape. But he argues that the canon cannot be reduced to simply vicissitudes of history, politics, or economics. Instead, the integrated form of this Elder Testament speaks of metahistorical disclosures of the divine, correlating the theological identity of God across time and beyond.

Part Three examines Proverbs 8, Genesis 1, and Psalms 2 and 110―texts that are notable for their prominence in early Christian exegesis. The Elder Testament measures the ontological pressure exerted by these texts, which led directly to the earliest expressions of Trinitarian reading in the Christian church, long before the appearance of a formally analogous Scripture, bearing the now-familiar name “New Testament.”

Canon to Theology to Trinity. This trilogy, as Seitz concludes, is not strictly a historical sequence. Rather, this trilogy is ontologically calibrated through time by the One God who is the selfsame subject matter of both the Elder and New Testaments. The canon makes the traditional theological work of the church possible without forcing a choice between a minimalist criticism or a detached, often moribund systematic theology. The canon achieves “the concord and harmony of the law and the prophets in the covenant delivered at the coming of the Lord” of which Clement of Alexandria so eloquently spoke.

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