5 Sep 2006

Books, Books, & More Books

Author: Bobby Valentine | Filed under: Bible, Bobby's World, Books, Exegesis, Preaching

Books, Books and more Books

Many hundreds of years ago the nameless editor, of the nameless Preacher’s reflections, opined, “Of making many books there is no end …” (Ecclesiastes 12.12b). This is obviously a true proverb. Hundreds of thousands of books are published every year some outstanding and some they could have saved the trees.

It seems customary among bloggers to periodically list the books they have recently read or are currently reading. I suppose the motive behind this is to suggest some good books that may bless others and with that motive in mind I join this blogging tradition. Here a few books that I have read in the recent past.

Edwin P. Hoyt, Angels of Death: Goering’s Luftwaffe (Forge 1994). This is a history of the Luftwaffe as it overlaps with the life Hermann Goering the architect of Hitler’s Air Force. This is a highly readable account of Goering rise and fall. Hoyt makes the interesting claim that Goering while a rabid supporter of Hitler did not buy into the racist ideology of Nazism.

Monford Harris, Exodus and Exile: The Structure of the Jewish Holidays (Fortress 1992). Harris is a Jewish scholar who taught in Chicago. This is a very insightful work on the theology and meaning for Jewish life of the major holy days. He makes an observation that I had not thought of before but is quite significant: the Pilgrimage festivals all celebrate the Exodus but not one holiday celebrates the conquering of the Land.

Bernard of Clairvaux on the Song of Songs (Cistercian Publications) This is a compilation of Bernard’s famous sermons on the Song of Songs. I love this book. I have read pits and pieces of Bernard’s sermons but these are cutting “edge.” Not only does Bernard have tremendous insight into love but he also has a very good sermon on the “Two Operations of the Holy Spirit.”

Nicolaus Copernicus, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, edited by Stephen Hawking (Running Press 2002). I am about half way through this classic that set off the great debate about the structure of the Solar System (indeed the universe itself). This is anything but an easy read, however, the book is very interesting. Dust off all of those long forgotten theorems of Geometry and Trig. or do like me and simply skim that part, 🙂

Barbara Ellen Bowe, A Church in Crisis: Ecclesiology and Paraenesis in Clement of Rome (Fortress 1988). This book is part of the Harvard Dissertations in Religion series. I picked it up on sale for 3 bucks and it is worth every penny. This is a full length Ph.D dissertation on the rhetoric, structure and argument of 1 Clement (one of the earliest Christian writings outside the New Testament … it is a First Century document). I have seen Bowe’s book in footnotes before but now I am reading it for myself. She practically overturns older scholarship that asserted 1 Clement depicted a power grab by the Roman church over other churches and that it is concerned primarily about structural ecclesiology. Rather she argues that Clement is interested in unity through solidarity and an exhortation to a communal ethics of brotherhood. It is a very stimulating work.

Bruce J. Malina, The New Testament World: Insights from Cultural Anthropology (Westminster 2001). Having recently read David deSilva’s Honor, Patronage, Kinship & Purity (IVP 2000) I have come to see an entire dimension to biblical study that I had not availed myself too. Malina is the scholar to read when it comes to the social and cultural context of the NT. Issues of honor and shame are on almost ever page of the NT but simply go unrecognized because these thought categories are alien to modern western readers. This is a very helpful book as is deSilva’s.

Finally, I started to reread C. S. Lewis classic Till We Have Faces. This is my all time favorite of Lewis’ works. It is rich and multidimensional. It was written near the end of his life and it reflects much more nuanced patterns of thought than some of his earlier work (which I also love btw). It is unfortunate that this book is not a well known among Evangelicals who seem to love parts of Lewis’ legacy.

Bobby Valentine

14 Responses to “Books, Books, & More Books”

  1. john alan turner Says:

    I read Malina over the summer. He’s good. And last year I read a different C.S. Lewis each month. ‘TIL WE HAVE FACES is one of my wife’s faves.

  2. Stoned-Campbell Disciple Says:

    It is a goal of mine to have read evey book by Lewis. I have quite collection now but there are few of his books that are difficult to come by. You wife has impeccable taste. 🙂

    Bobby Valentine

  3. JD Says:

    Bobby, these authors ought to give thanks for you! God bless you for reading their books. Somebody has to.

    It won’t be me!!!

    But you know I love ya!


  4. cwinwc Says:

    I’ve never heard of “Angels of Death: Goering’s Luftwaffe.” I’m a WW2 buff so this will go to the top of my list.

  5. Gary W. Kirkendall Says:


    Thanks for the lists and the suggestions on my blog concerning unity. Always look forward to your blogs

  6. Velcro Says:

    Those sound like great books, especially Til We Have Faces

  7. DJG Says:

    Thanks I will find that CS Lewis book. I just started Mere Christianity again. Gotta love C.S. Lewis.

  8. Frank Bellizzi Says:

    A good used copy of Till We Have Faces has been sitting there on my shelf for the longest time. (We’re talkin years). Maybe I’ll start it soon.

    The Bowe dissertation sounds like something I could get into. The problem is, whenever I start into a book like that, my wife goes into her loud-scoffing mode. At such times, I’m required to completely embrace my inner geek just to go on. Even then, she makes me laugh at myself.

  9. Chris Field Says:

    SCD – Great post, great ideas, I appreciate the tone of your blog. Blessings my friend.

  10. preacherman Says:

    Great post.
    Thanks for the book recommendations.
    I’ve got to read C.S. Lewis’s book.
    I also love anything by A.W. Tozer especially the Pursuit of God.

    God bless.

  11. Darin L. Hamm Says:

    Bobby read books???

  12. Angie Says:

    BOOKS! Looks like we’ve got the same things on our minds, as I’m talking books over at my blog too. Sure do appreciate you taking the time to share titles and perspectives… Your opinion is valued!

  13. Alan Says:

    Bobby said:
    “Nicolaus Copernicus, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres, edited by Stephen Hawking (Running Press 2002). Dust off all of those long forgotten theorems of Geometry and Trig. or do like me and simply skim that part, :)”

    Come on Bobby, what’s the fun in that. My suggestion is to do the math. Then again I have been told I am a nerd since I read heavy science books for fun. I have also been a life long reader of Scientific American.

    A book I have started reading is

    A Great and Noble Scheme: The Tragic Story of the Expulsion of the French Acadians from Their American Homeland
    by John Mack Faragher.

    The purchase of this book was the result of learning some family history. I have ancestors on my mother’s mother side of the family who were those Acadians who were part of ethnic cleansing in the early colonies. Most of the early members of my family eventually ended up in Louisiana. The names of some of those ancestors are in the book. Therefore, this is part of my story as well. The ironic part of the story is that my mother’s father’s ancestors were those Americans from Massachusetts and Maine who settled Nova Scotia as the French were being deported. As a result of this the whole debate about immigration in this country is taking new meaning for me.

  14. Kevin Says:


    If you enjoy science as much as it sounds, you might want to check out Eerdman’s, Perspectives on an Evolving Creation. Excellent book, with “devotional” interludes between the science. It’s early pages have some excellent insight into the poetic and mythical form of Genesis 1-2.

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