Friday, October 17, 2008

Westminster John Knox

Tuesday the USPS brought me a copy of the WJK Academic Update, Vol. 3, No. 1. The Academic Update is a combination of news, book reviews, and book catalog. Westminster John Knox is related to the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). WJK also partners with Cokesbury, the retail division of The United Methodist Publishing House.

According to their web site,
Westminster John Knox "publishes first-class scholarly works in religion for the academic community, nationally recognized trade books for general readers, and essential resources for ministry and the life of faith." A look at some of their title reveals a viewpoint on the far liberal end of denominated Christians -- Our Mother Saint Paul, Jesus the Village Psychiatrist, Slaying the Dragon: Mythmaking in the Biblical Tradition, Feminist and Womanist Essays in Reformed Dogmatics, to name a few.

Four new titles are highlighted in the Academic Update: Q, the Earliest Gospel: an Introduction to the Original Stories and Sayings of Jesus; The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution and the Problem of Evil; To do Justice: a Guide for Progressive Christians; and Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians.

Q, the Earliest Gospel: An Introduction to the Original Stories and Sayings of Jesus is by John S. Kloppenborg, "a world authority on Q". Originally called "Quelle" ("source"), this supposedly "lost gospel" is usually abbreviated as "Q". It is a hypothetical document -- no copy been found, and there is no reference to it in early Christian writings. Like dinosaurs recreated by active imaginations rather than discovered bones, "Q" is a figment of the imagination of those who must find a precursor to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. If you are working on a dissertation or writing a critique of "Q", this book might prove helpful. If you trying to learn about Jesus, "Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away."

Next is The Groaning of Creation: God, Evolution, and the Problem of Evil by Christopher Southgate. God, Evolution, and Evil are usually problems for those who try to reconcile all three. Remove evolution from the equation and buy a book on God and Evil by a Bible-believer like Gordon H. Clark.

To Do Justice: A Guide for Progressive Christians by Rebecca Todd Peters and Elizabeth Hinson-Hasty (editors) is admittedly a book for "progressive Christians". Expect to find advice to solve moral and social problems from a liberal progressive viewpoint. Don't expect to find any condemnation of abortion, one of our greatest present moral and social evils.

Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians by James P. Byrd is probably the best of this four-fold crop. It is an introduction to Jonathan Edwards, "exploring his life, most important writings, and enduring legacies..." It is part of the broader Armchair Theologians series of WJK which includes such men as Augustine, Luther, Calvin and Wesley (and a new one on the "heretics" such as Marcion, Arius, Nestorius, and Pelagius).

This link is the latest online Academic Update, but not the one just released.

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