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Books I Read in 2010 (Pt. 2)

So, here's a breakdown of how many of the books I've been reading have been novels...

- 2008:  4 novels out of 13 books read
- 2009:  4 novels out of 15 books read
- 2010:  5 novels out of 21 books read

I'd like to read more novels, like I used to... I read at least four Magic:  The Gathering novels in just the summer of '07 and six of the Harry Potter series all in the Fall of '06.  What I need to do is get back into a good series.... maybe this will be the year for Wheel of Time or A Game of Thrones?

Anyway, here's five more book reviews...

*Bold and asterisked titles are those I recommend

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*NIV Application Commentary Series:  Genesis by John H. Walton (2001) (759 pages) - I have used two other Genesis commentaries for extensive reference (Brueggemann and Henry Morris), but this is the first one I've read cover to cover.  As I recall, virtually all of my major disagreements with the author dealt with modern application, in several different sections.  Regardless, he spends adequate time encountering the text in its own, specific, original context, so that his hit-or-miss "contemporary significance" sections do not compromise the integrity of the historical commentary (which really the only thing I am looking for in commentaries... many, many good teachers can come up with a good modern application, once it's more clear what the historic account meant in its own time and place). 

*NIV Application Commentary Series:  Mark by David E. Garland (1996) (653 pages) - Now this is the best commentary I've read yet (although I haven't read very many yet!)  The author excites you... in fact, before I was done with the first chapter I was seriously concerned that the author might just be an emotionally driven joke-of-an-academic.   But he is just excited about the text, and culture, and history, and is comfortable with making that clear in his academic work.  For the most part, I was impressed with his willingness to break from (as I understand) oversimplified and popular understandings of the text... to concede uncertainties for lack of hard information and for consistency of hermeneutic.  I felt like I was reading the manifesto of a world-changing spiritual revolutionary... which is how I should feel when I'm reading about the Gospel of Mark.

*The Qur'an, translated by M. A. S. Abdel Haleem (2004, 2005) (464 pages) - Essentially, the only noteworthy thing I knew about Islam I had learned just recently by reading that "Idiot's Guide to Islam."  The Qur'an is a fascinating read... but honestly it would be regardless of what it said, by merit of its sheer historical global influence.  There is something overwhelming about reading a book that is sacred to one billion of my living world neighbors (and who knows how many who have already passed?), and yet of which I knew nothing previously.  I will not much compare the book to the Christian Bible... they are utterly different objects.  While the Qur'an is a library of sorts, it is only a library of one man's lifetime of revelations.   The Bible, on the other hand, is a library of far greater cultural, linguistic, literary, and historical scope, such that it is almost laughable that someone would suppose they know how to read one book of it just because he knows a bit about another book somewhere else in it.  These are neutral statements, not statements of superiority on the part of the Bible, or of inferiority on the part of the Qur'an.  Again, they are such different kinds of books that such comparisons are nearly nonsensical.  There is so much to say about the Qur'an, and long before value judgements begin to come into play... but the most important thing to say, of course, is that I recommend anyone read it for him or herself.

Jesus and Nonviolence:  A Third Way by Walter Wink (2003) (117 pages) - I'll be quick on this one:  the author focuses mostly on the importance of organizing peace movements and rehearsing pacifism in the face of conflict.  If I recall correctly, his theological attempts were a bit trying, but they were not much the main idea of the book, anyway.  It is a quick read (the pages are very small) and is certainly interesting, if not agreeable.

*The Original Revolution by John Howard Yoder (1971) (190 pages) - In all honestly, I can't remember much about the specifics of this book's contents.  Yet I have felt compelled, since reading it, to recommend it more highly than any other history book I've read... at least for Christians.  It attacks the norms of historical and modern government, and demonstrates the fatal incompatibility of Christianity and rulership.

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Long Live the Written Word,
Jake

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