Another Logos Free Book of the Month – Origen: Treatise on the Passover

Recently Logos has added a second free book promotion. Usually at the middle of the month the offer up something for free and a few discounted books. This month they are offering four volumes of Origen published by Paulist Press. The Ancient Christian Writers series began in 1946, the most recent volume appeared in 2010. Each volume is a new translation of a text, edited and annotated by an expert in early church literature.

Many Logos users may have the Ante-Nicene Fathers set as part of a package, and volume 4 of that series includes some Origen, but it is far from complete. That volume does not include any of the works offered here, the Ancient Christian Writers series provides translations for texts not commonly available. Naturally Logos will sell you a 23 volume set of the Anti-Nicene Fathers in the Ancient Christian Writers series (currently $299, 32% off), or all 66 volumes for $599 (40% off), but here is a good chance to read several important works without spending so much money.

You might not know who Origen was or why you should read his work. Origen of Alexandria (184-253) was an early Christian scholar and theologian who was a prolific writer. He produced commentaries and theological texts as well as the Hexapla, a six column comparison of various translations of the Old Testament. Most agree he was one of the most influential figures in early Christian theology, although not everyone agrees that influence was good. Two of these almost-free books are commentaries, so this is a good opportunity to read early Christian exegesis.

For free, you can add Origen: Treatise on the Passover and Dialogue of Origen with Heraclides and His Fellow Bishops on the Father, the Son, and the Soul (Vol 54, translated and edited by Robert J. Daly).

The Treatise on the Passover dates from around 245. Its central insight is that the passover is not a figure or type of the passion of Christ, but a figure of Christ himself, of Christ’s passing over to the Father. The Dialogue with Heraclides probably comes from between the years 244 and 249. It seems to be the record of a synod-like meeting of bishops, in the presence of lay people, called to discuss matters of belief and worship. Both pieces seem to come from the last decade of Origen’s activity, when he was at the height of his powers.

For $4.99, add Origen: Prayer, Exhortation to Martyrdom (Vol 19, translated and annotated by John J. O’Meara). “Composed in AD 233, Origen’s Prayer combines both a theological treatise on prayer and a unique expression of prayer.”

For $6.99, add Origen: Homilies 1–14 on Ezekiel (Vo. 62, translated and edited by Thomas P. Scheck). “This is the first English translation of Jerome’s Latin edition of Origen’s Homilies on Ezekiel, This volume contains the homilies 1–14.”

For $8.99, add Origen: The Song of Songs, Commentary and Homilies (Vol 26, edited and translated by R. P. Lawson). “widely regarded as the first great work of Christian mysticism, is characterized by extraordinary intellectual depth and spiritual understanding.”

Logos Bible Software 8 is a significant upgrade to this powerful Bible study system. I did a “first look” review of Logos 8 here. The software runs much more efficiently than the previous version, that alone is worth the upgrade. Everything seems to run faster than Logos 7 and the upgrade is well worth considering. As always, there are less expensive paths to upgrading that will keep you from mortgaging your home. At the very least, download the free Logos Basic or the $79 Logos 8 Fundamentals (currently on sale for 20% and you get some free books by following the link).

With either minimal package you can download and use the free book every month and build your Logos library.  These free and almost free books of the month are only available through the end of September.

Giveaway Winner – John E. Johnson, Under an Open Heaven

Johnson, John, under open heavenLast week I celebrated the beginning of the new school year with a book giveaway: John E. Johnson, Under an Open Heaven: A New Way of Life Revealed in John’s Gospel (Kregel, 2017). This is a book which reflects good scholarship, but is written for a popular audience and would make a great addition to a pastor’s library. I reviewed this book when it was published, where I commented:

The thirteen chapters of the book read like sermons, with introductory illustrations drawn from pop culture or personal experience, and chapter sections with alliterative headings. He even cites Bob Dylan, which is always a plus. Since the book is written on a conversational level, it would work well in a small group environment or as personal devotional reading. Johnson has included a few questions at the end of each chapter to prompt discussion.

There were only twelve entries this time, so I sorted them at random and picked a number at random.org. The winner is:

Steve Williams

Steve’s “favourite pericope is John 9:23 to 9:38.” The spelling of “favorite” makes me think I will be shipping this book some distance, so get in touch with me soon at plong42@gmail.com and I will drop in the in the mail as soon as I can. Thanks to everyone for participating.

This is an exceptionally good semester for me, should I do one more giveaway?

Book Giveaway – John E. Johnson, Under an Open Heaven

Johnson, John, under open heavenOnce again, to celebrate the end of the summer and beginning of the new academic year, I am giving away a few books. In this case, it is another book I purchase and then discovered I already had it on the shelf. This week I have an extra copy of John E. Johnson, Under an Open Heaven: A New Way of Life Revealed in John’s Gospel (Kregel, 2017). This is a book which reflects good scholarship, but is written for a popular audience and would make a great addition to a pastor’s library. I reviewed this book when it was published, where I commented:

The thirteen chapters of the book read like sermons, with introductory illustrations drawn from pop culture or personal experience, and chapter sections with alliterative headings. He even cites Bob Dylan, which is always a plus. Since the book is written on a conversational level, it would work well in a small group environment or as personal devotional reading. Johnson has included a few questions at the end of each chapter to prompt discussion.

To have a chance at winning these books, leave a comment with your name and favorite chapter / pericope in John’s Gospel so I can contact you if you win. I will randomize the names from the comments and select one winner at random.

I will announce the winner picked at random on September 7, 2018 (one week from now). Good Luck!

Book Giveaway Winner! – The Gospel of John and Christian Theology, edited by Bauckham and Mosser

Bauckham, Gospel of JohnToday is the day I pick a winner for The Gospel of John and Christian Theology, edited by Richard Bauckham and Carl Mosser (Eerdmans, 2008). There were 51 comments (after I deleted my comments and some duplicates). This was one of the highest number of entries I have seen for a book giveaway, and several of the usual suspects did not enter.

I randomized the names then pasted them into a spreadsheet, generated a random number at random.org. And the winner is…..

Kevin Boyle

Congrats to Kevin! Please contact me via email (plong42 at gmail .com) with your mailing address and I will drop the book in the mail ASAP. Thanks to everyone who commented, look for the next “Back to School” book giveaway later this afternoon.

 

 

Book Review: John Anthony McGuckin, The Path of Christianity: The First Thousand Years

McGuckin, John Anthony. The Path of Christianity: The First Thousand Years. Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 2017. 1209 pgs., Hb.; $65.00 Link to IVP

John Anthony McGuckin’s new book is a substantial contribution to the intellectual and social history of the first millennium of Christianity. Intentionally designed for use in a college or seminary classroom, McGuckin provides an excellent overview of major historical movements from the apostolic era through the Great Schism.

The Path of ChristianityOften church histories from evangelical publishers lean towards a western, Protestant form of Christianity and move rapidly from the Augustine to the Reformation (when the church really started). This is not the case for The Path of Christianity for two reasons. First, the book intentionally limits itself to the first millennium of the church. Few church history textbooks limit themselves to this period. Second, McGuckin is an archpriest of the Romanian Orthodox Church and his academic interests are solidly in the pre-Reformation period. He demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of Church History, having written twenty-five works of historical theology, including major works on St. Cyril of Alexandria, Gregory of Nazianzus, and St. Symeon as well as a survey of Orthodox Church history (The Orthodox Church: An Introduction to its History, Theology, & Spiritual Culture, Wiley-Blackwell, 2010). As a result, McGuckin’s history is richly illustrated with a wide range of voices from both the eastern and western church.

The first twelve chapters of the book survey the first ten centuries of church history, from the end of the first through the eleventh century. Each chapter is well-organized and carefully outlined. The clearly marked sections will assist students as they work through the often lengthy chapters. Following each chapter is a “short reader” with excerpts from key texts from the period covered in the chapter. McGuckin also includes a “for further reading” bibliography organized into sections matching the text in the chapter.

At 144 pages, the first chapter is by far the most comprehensive as it covers the “fertile second century.” McGuckin surveys Jewish Christian groups (Encarites, Nazorenes, Ebionites, Elkesaites), Gnostic writers and Apostolic Fathers along with substantial sections on Montanism, Marcion, the Quarterodecimans, and Irenaeus. The chapter ranges into the third century with a section on the Monarchic movement (up to Hippolytus and Novatian of Rome). What is surprising about the book is the detail McGuckin is able to include. His descriptions of the four Jewish Christian groups are longer than most Church history textbooks (if they include early Jewish Christianity at all). His brief descriptions of each of the Apostolic Fathers are excellent introductions and his thirty pages on the Monarchian movement is more than enough to sort out the complexity of this issue.

As the title “Blood in the Arena” implies, the second chapter survey’s Rome’s response to Christianity from Nero through the Diocletian persecution, with attention to the status of Christianity in the Roman Empire. He has a lengthy discussion of Tertullian’s social theology as a response to imperial oppression. McGuckin includes rival non-Christian groups in this chapter (Mithras, Isis, Cyble and Manichaeism) as well as Christian relations with the Jews. Finally, McGuckin devotes a section of the chapter to the second century apologists (Justin Martyr through Minucius Felix).

The historical section also covers the development of theology as well. For example, the fifth chapter “Reconciling the World” begins with a short overview of Paul’s doctrine of reconciliation and how this doctrine was developed in both eastern and western penitential theology. McGuckin devotes about ten pages to eastern penitential canons including the rarely-discussed Synod of Ancyra in 314 and the influence of the canons of this Synod on the eastern monastic movement. This chapter has a lengthy section on the development of the monastic movement, once again beginning with its intellectual roots in the Hellenistic world and the New Testament. McGuckin includes brief sections on Syrian, Egyptian, and Palestinian monastic orders, taking into account the impact of Islam on these monastic centers. The chapter concludes with a collection of short readings from several monastic canons as well as Augustine’s Letter to a Female Monastic Community.

The second part of the book is a collection of topics of interest to scholars and historians of the first thousand years of the church. These chapters are intended as a social history of ideas and therefore trace an idea through the full thousand year period surveyed in the historical section. The topics in this section are:

  • The Bible and Its Interpretation in the Early Church
  • The Church and War
  • The Development of Christian Hymnography
  • Ways of Prayer in the Early Church
  • Women in Ancient Christianity
  • Healing and Philanthropy in Early Christianity
  • The Exercise of Authority in the Church: Orders and Offices
  • Christians and Magic
  • The Church and Wealth
  • Church and Slavery in an Age of Oppression
  • Attitudes to Sexuality in the Early Church
  • A Brief Account of Ancient Christian Art

Most of the chapters begin in the world of Hellenism and trace the issue through the biblical material into the early church. Some of these issues concern developments in worship, liturgy and art, but others are social issues (magic, wealth, slavery, sexuality). This volume is worth the price for the second half of the book alone.

For example, in his chapter on Healing and Philanthropy, McGuckin begins with healing in ancient Hellenism before quickly surveying the New Testament and patristic writers. He traces the same history for philanthropy, although the Hellenistic section is longer in this case. These two threads are combined in a short section on philanthropy in the Byzantine liturgy and the Hospital as symbol of the church. He includes short readings on the topic from biblical literature (Wisdom, Sirach, Luke, James and Paul), Gregory of Nazianzus and Pseudo-Basil.

McGuckin’s chapter on the development of Christian hymnody also begins with origin of Greek hymns (perhaps found in the Pauline letters) and compares them to pre-Christian Hellenistic hymns. There is a larger collection of short readings for this chapter in order to illustrate some of the more obscure early Christian hymns. These hymns are often translated by McGuckin and are annotated with comments suggesting poetic allusions. For most readers, this collection of hymns may be a first introduction to the vast number of hymns, songs and sacred poetry from the first millennium of the church.

As the bibliographies make clear, each chapter in this book is worthy of a monograph. In fact, given the length of the chapters and the slightly small font, several chapters could have been published as short stand-alone books. Despite the length of the book, McGuckin distills complex historical problems into a readable chapters and offers the interested reader an excellent list of resources to go much deeper. For students, these chapters are excellent introductions, but also resources for further research and writing.

Conclusion. Because McGuckin’s The Path of Christianity is so detailed, it is an important contribution to the study of church history. It is written in a style which will appear to the general reader as well as a student in a seminary class. But the massive amount of data in the book makes in a valuable reference work as well. It is possible the book is too much for classroom use, especially in a single, general seminary church history class. Nevertheless, the book will serve well as a standard reference for early church history.

 

NB: Thanks to InterVarsity Press for kindly providing me with a review copy of this book. This did not influence my thoughts regarding the work.

 

Book Giveaway Winner – Ernst Käsemann, On Being a Disciple of the Crucified Nazarene

Last week I offered a brand new copy of Ernst Käsemann, On Being a Disciple of the Crucified Nazarene: Unpublished Lectures and Sermons (Translated by Roy A. Harrisville; Eerdmans, 2010). I bought the book this weekend at the Eerdmans Warehouse Sale (one of the major benefits of living in Grand Rapids). I had a suspicion I already had the book, but bought it anyway. Once again, my leaky memory is to your benefit.

With  twenty-two comments (I deleted a duplicate name), then I randomized the names and used random.org to select a winner. For the first time I can recall doing these giveways, the first comment was the winner:

Tim Bertolet

So congrats to Tim being first and winning this excellent book. Please contact me via email (plong42 at gmail .com) or a DM on twitter (@Plong42) with your mailing address and I will pop this book in the mail ASAP.

Book Giveaway – Ernst Käsemann, On Being a Disciple of the Crucified Nazarene

Somehow I lost a week in the flurry of a new school year. I promised to give away another book I have recent purchased then found it was already on my shelf. This week I have a brand new copy of Ernst Käsemann, On Being a Disciple of the Crucified Nazarene: Unpublished Lectures and Sermons (Translated by Roy A. Harrisville; Eerdmans, 2010). I bought the book this weekend at the Eerdmans Warehouse Sale (one of the major benefits of living in Grand Rapids). I had a suspicion I already had the book, but bought it anyway. Once again, my leaky memory is to your benefit.

Commenting on Ernst Käsemann, Scot McKnight said about

“Käsemann’s theology is about breaking free from the idols of his age, in fact of any age, and this collection of essays will put before readers a window into Käsemann’s brilliant explorations of how to live as a disciple of Jesus in a world gone mad at times, in a world where we are called to resist, in a world where we are called to follow The Crucified One.”

To have a chance at winning these books, leave a comment with your name so I can contact you if you win. I will randomize the names from the comments and select one winner at random.

I will announce the winner picked at random on September 20, 2017 (one week from now). Good Luck!