Here are a few new book releases from this week that are worth checking out:
(Where possible, we have also tried to include a review/interview related to each of the new book releases …)
John M.G. Barclay
Paul and the Power of Grace is a helpful new book by biblical scholar John M.G. Barclay. On one hand, it serves as a more accessible summary of key ideas from his preeminent work, Paul and the Gift. On the other hand, Barclay extends the scope of his inquiry about Paul and the concept of grace to a larger swath of the New Testament, and appends a concluding chapter on what this biblical exploration might mean for Christian ethics today. Barclay’s biblical explorations are superbly helpful, and the church will benefit richly from his efforts in this new volume to make his work accessible to a broader audience that would have been intimidated by Paul and the Gift.
The book’s final chapter on ethics is also helpful, but is strikingly rudimentary. One can hope that this chapter will be fleshed out with historical and contemporary examples in Barclay’s promised work-in-progress on gift exchange and the formation of community. As one who is employed by a community development corporation whose work is shaped by asset-based community development (ABCD), Barclay did grab my attention with his passing reference about the “strong resonance” between his work on Paul’s concept of grace and ABCD. (To my knowledge, very little has been written in the way of theological reflection on ABCD, especially reflection from a scholar of Barclay’s caliber that is deeply rooted in careful reading of the scriptural texts.)
So, if you haven’t read Paul and the Gift, I recommend this book to you, and regardless, I hope we will all be on alert for his forthcoming book on community formation (and if you are eager for the tiniest taste of what that book might hold, Paul and the Power of Grace will provide you with that) – C. Christopher Smith, ERB Editor