Greg Woolf, “Rome: An Empire’s Story”

I read this because of a review by Joseph Bottom in The Weekly Standard, which makes some good points.  The book is solid but doesn’t really offer a lot of insight into Christianity.  One point I liked (irrelevant to Christianity) is that Rome was unique in that its leaders/elite wrote poetry (297).  This point (286-87) … [Read more…]

Ross Douthat, “Bad Religion” (audiobook)

This is very good, especially in the facts and history it provides.  Some of the analysis toward the end is confused and too speculative, and I think he is too harsh on Joel Osteen and too insistent that Christianity cannot be upbeat (he’s Catholic, FYI and FWIW).

Richard J. Foster & James Bryan Smith (editors), “Devotional Classics”

There are about forty excerpts from a Who’s Who of Christian theologians (Luther, Calvin, St. Thomas, Wesley, C.S. Lewis, etc.).  Needless to say, there is some good stuff in here; there’s also a biography, bibliography, and questions for each. Note:  I did not read the whole book (my notes don’t say why).  I read the … [Read more…]

Julia L. Roller (editor), “25 Books Every Christian Should Read: A Guide to the Essential Spiritual Classics”

This is a very interesting selection (made by “Renovare,” by the way).  First there is commentary and then there are excerpts from each.   Some notes: Calvin is much more accessible than I would have thought.  He also interprets Scripture with an eye on what is implicit as well as explicit in it; it’s very … [Read more…]

Roberta L. Harris, “The World of the Bible”

It’s reassuring how much archaeological evidence there is supporting the Bible’s history. Fun fact to know and tell:  There were seven key crops in Bible times, namely wheat and barley; grapes and figs; and olives, pomegranates, and dates.

Dwight Longenecker & David Gustafson (with forewords by Richard John Neuhaus & J.I. Packer), “Mary: A Catholic-Evangelical Debate”

This book illuminates very well the Catholic-versus-Protestant approach to Biblical interpretation — and my proclivities are indeed Protestant (my notes say there’s a good example on page 81).  I found the book very engaging — both the specific subject matter (do Catholics focus too much on Mary?) and the window it provides on the theological … [Read more…]

D. James Kennedy, “Skeptics Answered”

Some good nuggets:  The ancient critics of Christianity did not deny that Jesus existed; only recent critics have done that (75-78).  John Stuart Mill argued that that a bunch of fishermen could not have made up Jesus’ wisdom (92); but that at least confirms Christianity’s wisdom, does it not?  And Herbert Hoover said man needs more … [Read more…]