With so many translations and study aids available, clergy and literate laity must from time to time make a decision about which edition of the Bible to adopt as their daily working edition. The Oxford Study Bible is a very strong candidate indeed. Its chief merit is the accuracy and felicity of the translation of the biblical texts. This Revised English Bible is a modest revision of what was called The New English Bible. Also recently issued is The New Oxford Annotated Bible, and the translation there is The New Revised Standard Version. Unfortunately, that revision tries to accommodate, however cautiously, current concerns about “gender-inclusive” language, and the strain of that accommodation is frequently obtrusive and, at some points, arguably distortive. The Study Bible devotes almost 200 pages to nineteen articles reflecting the current state of biblical scholarship on everything from literary forms to disputes over textual dating and the significance of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Given the volatile nature of scholarly opinion, much of this material is inevitably tendentious and will likely be dated in the near future. That caveat aside, readers might well consider The Oxford Study Bible with its splendid translation of the biblical texts as the standard edition for both personal study and public reading.
The author teaches systematic theology at Fuller Seminary and here urges a shift from a “vocational” to a “pneumatological” understanding of work. The density of the English, the superfluity of jargon, and the untranslated Latin will challenge many readers, but the effort will be rewarded for those who have a serious interest in the development of Christian thought about work. While the sixteenth-century Reformers understood the theological dignity of a specific vocation to which a Christian is called, says Wolf, we must now understand that Christians are “gifted and called to various tasks by the Spirit,” and faithfulness to the call may mean a variety of vocational decisions.
Conservative Texts: An Anthology
edited with an introduction by Roger Scruton
St. Martin’s, 352 pages, $39.95
Extracts from the writings of twenty-four important conservative thinkers from Burke to Kirk, with a helpful overview essay by the editor. A good introduction both for students of political philosophy and for political practitioners seeking to better understand the intellectual foundations of conservatism. Somewhat overpriced, though.
The Ultimate Church: An Irreverent Look at Church Growth, Megachurches, & Ecclesiastical “Show Biz”
by Tom Raabe
Zondervan, 172 pages, $8.99
The subtitle says it all. The evangelical infatuation with elaborately orchestrated bigness has been around long enough to have produced its parodist. Raabe’s send-up is frequently outrageous, always witty, and fully warranted.
Gregory the Great: Perfection in Imperfection
by Carole Straw
University of California Press, 295 pages, $13.95
Gregory, who was pope from 590-604, is usually called great because of his many church reforms. This very readable and persuasive study focuses on Gregory as theologian and spiritual teacher. The author, who teaches history at Mount Holyoke College, has produced a book that should be of interest to all who would be conversant with one of the truly important figures in the Great Tradition.
An Apology for Apologetics: A Study in the Logic of Interreligious Dialogue
by Paul J. Griffiths
Orbis, 113 pages, $39.95 (cloth)
There is a polemical edge aimed at “teacup ecumenists and lazy pluralists,” but the heart of this little book is a bracing argument that intellectual honesty in interreligious dialogue is absolutely essential if all participants are not to be deceived and disserved. The author teaches philosophy of religions at the University of Chicago Divinity School.
In Search of Christian Unity: Basic Consensus / Basic Differences
edited by Joseph A. Burgess
Fortress Press, 259 pages, $14.95
Sixteen essays by some of the leading figures in serious ecumenism today. The conference from which the volume emerges was sponsored by Lutherans so, perhaps excusably, Lutherans are overrepresented. This is an important examination of whether “fundamental consensus” exists between the churches sufficient to make ecclesial reconciliation possible. Most essayists seem convinced that it does not.