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The Founders of the Western World:
A History of Greece and Rome

by Michael Grant
Scribner’s, 351 pages, $27.50

Michael Grant has written so many books about the Greeks and Romans that his latest reads like a textbook. As he acknowledges in the introduction, the present book is a shortened version of four earlier general books on classical antiquity. The result is too much information, too little interpreted and in too small a space. In Grant’s account of the foundations of the Western world, Christianity and Judaism merit a three-page appendix.

—Robert L. Wilken

The Arab Christian:
A History in the Middle East
by Kenneth Cragg 
Westminster/John Knox Press, 336 pages, $29.95 

Kenneth Cragg, a bishop in the Church of England who has spent most of his life in the Middle East, has written extensively on Islam and the relation of Christianity to Islam. Here he turns to the history and future prospects of Arab-speaking Christians in Muslim lands and in Israel, which is to say of Christianity in its native environment. It is a story that is almost unknown to Westerners, and Cragg, a trustworthy guide, writes with insight and feeling. Though a good part of the book is necessarily historical, his primary interest is in the recent past and the changing fortunes of Christians as a result of the Arab awakening and political developments that have altered the face of the region in the twentieth century (e.g., the founding of the state of Israel). Islam and Judaism, Cragg reminds us, are not the only religious traditions that will shape and be shaped by the future of the region.


Abortion Politics:
Mutiny in the Ranks of the Right

by Michele McKeegan 
Free Press, 227 pages, $22.95 

A Planned Parenthood professional argues that pro-choice Republicans will desert their pro-life party and, along the way, she exposes the fact that the Catholic Church and rightwing Protestants are the backbone of the anti-abortion movement. Wouldn’t you know it.

The Just War:
Force and Political Responsibility
by Paul Ramsey 
Rowman & Littlefield, 554 pages, $19.95

A welcome reprint of a 1968 classic by the late Methodist theologian Paul Ramsey. And very moderately priced. One may hope that this is a start on the reissuing of other Ramsey books now out of print.

Encyclopedia of the Reformed Faith 
edited by Donald K. McKim 
Westminster/John Knox Press, 414 pages, $36.95

Judicious entries from “Accommodation” to “Zwingli” make this a valuable reference, and not only for Reformed Protestants. It is, more accurately, an encyclopedia of the Christian faith from a Reformed perspective.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:
A Spoke in the Wheel

by Renate Wind 
Eerdmans, 182 pages, $14.95 

A short telling of the story of the heroic Lutheran theologian martyred under the Nazis. A good introduction for parish libraries.

The Concentration Can 
by Jerome Lejeune 
Ignatius Press, 216 pages, $12.95 

The case before the Tennessee court was whether the embryos in “the concentration can” were property to be liquidated or human life to be protected. This book is essentially the testimony given by the world-renowned French geneticist Jerome Lejeune. It is compelling, convincing, and powerfully pertinent to disputes that will be with us for a long time. (The court decided in favor of life.)

Anglicanism and the Christian Church:
Theological Resources in Historical Perspective
by Paul Avis 
Fortress, 335 pages, $24.95 

A scholarly, readable, appreciative, and by no means uncritical examination of the Anglican theological tradition. Invaluable for Anglicans and extremely useful for those in dialogue with folk of that persuasion.

The Re-Formed Jesuits 
by Joseph M. Becker, S.J. 
Ignatius Press, 422 pages, $19.95 

An extraordinarily illuminating documentation and analysis of changes in the Society of Jesus following Vatican Council II. The changes that transformed the society reflected changes in the culture during a turbulent era. One is struck by how many leaders in the progressivist “reform” of the society later left the Jesuits.

Encyclopedia of Mormonism
edited by Daniel H. Ludlow 
Macmillan, Five volumes, 2,122 pages, $340 

Monumental is the word that springs to mind to describe this thorough accounting of “The History, Scripture, Doctrine, and Procedure of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Hundreds of scholars collaborated in producing a resource that defies review but certainly deserves a place in any library with pretensions to comprehensiveness.

Photo by Iñaki del Olmo on Unsplash. Image cropped.