Apart from being ill, which has decreased my ability to concentrate and read (I really hate that), I have managed to work though – or at least start to – a couple of extraordinary books.
The first, Brant Pitre’s Jesus, the Tribulation and the End of the Exile, is one of the most engaging and suggestive books on the historical Jesus I have read in a good while (I first mentioned it here). One point hit me between the eyes because it was so obvious. What do you think the Gospel talk of ‘gathering the elect from the four winds’ means? Pitre ties this into the prophetic hope for return of the northern tribes (the ten scattered among the Gentiles in the Assyrian Exile about 700 years BC). Fascinating!
And I’m thrilled that Brant is joining blogdom!
The other gem of a book which I shall review in more depth in due time is Chris VanLandingham’s Judgment and Justification in Early Judaism and the Apostle Paul mentioned previously here. This one has to be the most provocative thesis about Paul and justification that I have read for a long, long time. It is ‘messing with my head’ as it seems to me to be trying to prove that a theological square is a circle, but I’ll certainly try to keep an open mind. It is a brutal critique of Sander’s notion of ‘covenantal nomism’, but if Chris is right it won’t be just Sanders who should be quaking in his boots – all Pauline exegetes and theologians will need to take a deep breath and do some serious rethinking. My thanks to the kind folk at Hendrickson for sending me a review copy.
When I read stimulating books like these, whether my initial reaction is ‘hot damn!’, ‘oh dear’, ‘no frigging way’, or whether it is pure epiphany, an ‘ahhhh, of course!’, it is always exciting!