News, VOLUME 12

Ten Theology Books to Watch For [May 2019]

Here are 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

See a book here that you’d like to review for us?
Contact us, and we’ll talk about the possibility of a review.

The Great Conversation:
Nature and the Care of the Soul

Belden Lane

Oxford UP

“We are surrounded by a world that talks, but we don’t listen. We are part of a community engaged in a vast conversation, but we deny our role in it.”

In the face of climate change, species loss, and vast environmental destruction, the ability to stand in the flow of the great conversation of all creatures and the earth can feel utterly lost to the human race. But Belden C. Lane suggests that it can and must be recovered, not only for the sake of endangered species and the well-being of at-risk communities, but for the survival of the world itself.

The Great Conversation is Lane’s multi-faceted treatise on a spiritually centered environmentalism. At the core is a belief in the power of the natural world to act as teacher. In a series of personal anecdotes, Lane pairs his own experiences in the wild with the writings of saints and sages from a wide range of religious traditions. A night in a Missourian cave brings to mind the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius of Loyola; the canyons of southern Utah elicit a response from the Chinese philosopher Laozi; 500,000 migrating sandhill cranes rest in Nebraska and evoke the Sufi poet Farid ud-Din Attar. With each chapter, the humility of spiritual masters through the ages melds with the author’s encounters with natural teachers to offer guidance for entering once more into a conversation with the world.

Friendship and Virtue Ethics in the Book of Job 

Patricia Vesely

Cambridge UP

For classical philosophers, friendship was a serious topic of ethical reflection, yet in contemporary discussions on ethics, this subject is largely absent. Drawing upon Aristotelian ethics based on virtue, Patricia Vesely examines friendship as a moral category in the Book of Job, illuminating those virtues, motivations, and perceptions that this relationship entails. She argues that for Job, the virtues of loyalty, compassion, courage, humility, honesty, hospitality, and practical wisdom are essential to a relationship of friendship. These traits of character are most fully embodied in actions of advocacy. In addition to a detailed examination of friendship in the Book of Job, Vesely addresses topics such as the contribution of virtue to human flourishing, the role of tragic literature in moral formation, friendship in Hellenistic and biblical contexts, and ethics in heroic societies. Her book brings together topics spanning philosophy, ethics, and biblical studies, yielding a work that will appeal to a broad range of audiences.

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Reading for the Common Good
From ERB Editor Christopher Smith

"This book will inspire, motivate and challenge anyone who cares a whit about the written word, the world of ideas, the shape of our communities and the life of the church."
-Karen Swallow Prior

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  1. Jim E Montgomery

    Have searched the NT text and not found any democracy in JC’s teachings or His surrounding 1st century. ‘Democracy’ ought be seen by His disciples and as a strawman or at least a pitch in the dirt not be swung at … Don’t get mad at me; it just ain’t there!

  2. Of course democracy isn’t in scripture, but neither are many facets of life in our churches and homes. Should churches not have pianos because they aren’t mentioned in scripture (apologies, of course, to our brothers and sisters in the non-instrumental Churches of Christ) or should Christians forego transportation by automobile or all modern medicine because it isn’t mentioned in scripture?

    Democracy has some serious flaws (the marginalization — and sometimes oppression– of minority groups) but wouldn’t you agree that it’s its a whole lot better than some forms of government, say fascism or totalitarianism? The Reign of God is not a democracy, but in the modern age democracies have allowed the Gospel to flourish in ways that it hasn’t under other systems of government.

    Whether something is or isn’t in scripture is NOT a great test of its validity for us as Christians. Rather we need to think theologically about all the realities of our days and speak honestly about their virtues and their limitations.

    ~ Chris