Thursday, July 30, 2009

Two Book Reviews: The Truth about God and Hebrews for Everyone

So I got a lot of reading done on the trip and on the plane last night, and polished off the last of my NT Wright Commentaries (Hebrews -- and by the way, my birthday IS coming up sooner than you may think for the other ones I don't have yet!), and also The Truth About God, a book by Stanley Hauerwas and William Willimon about the Ten Commandments.

1.) The Truth About God -- I need to read their book previous to this one about the Lord's Prayer. The beauty of this format is that you get all of Hauerwas's trademark mind-blowing wit and connections he makes that you never made before, but it's very short (<150 pgs) and written for people who don't care about the long philosophical arguments and backs and forths that Hauerwas spends SO much time on. Very challenging, very formative, and the best part is, even though NT Wright and Hauerwas have such different perspectives, there's a considerable "mere Christianity" overlap so that reading it alongside the Hebrews book strengthened both of them by resonance.

2.) Hebrews for Everyone -- More of the same from NT Wright, which is good indeed. Near the end it struck me that the author of Hebrews is clearly different from Paul, because there's none of Paul's trademark mixed-metaphor onslaughts, and instead there's a building, more linear use of metaphors about the Holy City, for instance. Could it be Apollos? Whoever it was, was indeed concerned with the Temple, and I don't see how it could have been written after the Temple's destruction in A.D. 70. I really do think most of the New Testament dates from before that event. There's even some fascinating parallels with Jesus' statements near the end of Luke, for example, about how his followers should head for the hills when they see judgment approaching. I love how it all fits together.

Hebrews itself is about the long hard perseverance and faithfulness. This is even reflected in the final chapter (the ethical one, with the do this don't do that motif). Its placement in the canon right before James makes it the perfect bridge from Pauline Letters to the Catholic Letters, it's really a little of both.

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