The pick of the new releases
Published in 2010 but still available is Nicholas Perrin’s ‘Jesus and the Temple’ (SPCK), it should be read by anyone with a serious interest in the New Testament. The author, who teaches at Wheaton, was formerly research assistant to NT Wright and the book is dedicated to Bishop Tom and his wife, Molly. Perrin writes in an accessible style and offers new insights to help us understand the historical Jesus. One critic found this book hard to put down. Highly recommended.
What light can poetry shed on religious belief and national identity? ‘Redcrosse’, edited by Ewan Fernie (Bloomsbury) is a collection of essays in which the editor, a Shakespearean scholar, theologian Andrew Shanks, and contemporary poets Jo Shapcott, Michael Symonds Roberts and Andrew Motion reflect on this question. The book includes ‘Redcrosse’, a liturgy for St George’s Day, and reflections of the creation of the liturgy by John Milbank, Salley Vickers, and Sarah Apertrei (as well as the contributors to this book who helped created the liturgy). This is an important resource for St George’s Day and carries an endorsement by Bishop Rowan Williams.
In ‘The Exquisite Risk of Love’ (DLT) Robert Waldron chronicles the love Thomas Merton felt for a young nurse who cared for him during spinal illness. The book reproduces 18 love poems by Merton with references from his journal and the editor argues that this forbidden relationship made it possible for Merton to attain a psychological and spiritual wholeness he had not known before.
Has ‘see you on Facebook’ replaced ‘see you at the pub?’ How is technology changing our lives? Is it stealing something essential in return for all its marvellous gifts? John Lynch, a priest and seminary rector in Rome, explores some of these questions in ‘The Scent of Lemons’ (DLT).
Jeremy Wor then, Principal of the South East Institute for Theological Education, explores the issue of vocation in ‘Responding to God’s Call’ (Canterbury). There are already a number of books on this subject but this new study comes recommended by John Pritchard, Graham Tomlin, Martin Percy, Paul Avis, and the President of the Methodist Conference, Mark Wakelin.
Bill Medley, who has worked as a stand-up comedian and professional entertainer, gives the five major religions, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism and Islam, a layman’s examination in ‘Religion is for Fools’ (Authentic). Medley has produced satires on religion; now he gives it a more serious examination.
David Ford’s ‘Shape of Living’ (Canterbury) first appeared in 1997 under the old Fount imprint. Now it has been re-issued. It asks how we can cope creatively with all the influences that shape our daily lives.
Widely reviewed but not yet noted in these pages is the final volume of Pope Benedict’s life of Jesus, which deals with the infancy narratives and is published by Bloomsbury and can be highly recommended. Without ignoring the findings of New Testament scholarship, the author is more interested in the spiritual meaning of the infancy narratives. This is the fruit of a lifetime’s scholarship, prayer and reflection.
Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179) composed music, produced plays and wrote on natural science, medicine, theology and hagiography. She travelled on preaching tours and rebuked clergy and laity alike. In a ‘Taste of Hildegard’ (New City) Elizabeth Ruth Obard has edited selections from Hildegard’s first book ‘Scivias’ which aimed to set out the way of salvation. There is an excellent introduction that outlines Hildegard’s life and lots of illustrations. A good, short sampler of someone recently named by Roman Catholics as a ‘doctor of the Church’.