A few good books

Friday, November 24, 2006

I went out for lunch with Noel today and whenever that happens, the subject of Sufes, our favourite Christian bookstore would come up and beckon us for a visit.

Again, we fell for it.

I came out of the store with 4 books while Noel after much, much thinking walked out with one – thus not breaking the record of not walking out of Sufes with nothing.

He got a really interesting book: Christology in the Making: A New Testament Inquiry Into the Origins of the Doctrine of the Incarnation by James D.G. Dunn. A perfect read for the Christmas season.

And I got these:

It’s Still Greek to Me
An Easy-to-Understand Guide to Intermediate Greek

by David Alan Black

This is the first book I picked up. I am glad I finally got a copy of it – I have been checking the linguistic section for quite awhile now and to my delight, there it was today.

Darrell L. Bock
David Black's It's Still Greek to Me takes the mystery out of the syntax of the Greek New Testament. It is clearly written and cleanly presented including helpful discussion of the basics of English grammar which often get in the way of learning NT Greek. For those seeking to learn Greek or teaching it at a basic level. I can guarantee that Greek won't still be Greek to you after using this book!?

Book Description
An easy-to-understand and humorous guide to Greek grammar by a topflight scholar. Designed for students in their second year of Greek study.

About the Author
David Alan Black (D. Theol., University of Basel,Switzerland) is professor of New Testament and Greek at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and New Testament editor of the International Standard Version of the Bible. He has authored or edited twelve books.

The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts
Then and Now

by Max Turner

I am glad I found this book because it is in the recommended reading list for my Acts paper, which I should be working on already.

Book Description
What do the writers of the New Testament say about the work of the Holy Spirit? How can we understand spiritual gifts for today?

Questions regarding the role of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts in the life of the believer and the church today continue to be asked, and remain a source of controversy.

In this updated edition of his widely acclaimed book, Professor Max Turner offers a clear scholarly consideration of the Holy Spirit that is rooted in Scripture and relates to aspects of contemporary theology. He carefully explores how three major New Testament writers – Luke, John and Paul – took over and developed Old Testament and intertestamental notions of the Holy Spirit before sensitively comparing their teaching to the powerful experiences of today’s churches.

The Progress of Redemption
From Creation to the New Jerusalem

by Willem Vangemeren

I usually keep a look out for these gems in affordable paperback. This one only cost RM20 (USD5). It is not so much the price but the book which I believe is valuable. One reviewer in amazon.com commented: Vangemeren accomplishes the gargantuan task of explaining God's plan of salvation or redemption in simple terms. Through his breakdown of the "progression" of the plan into smaller parts, the many charts and diagrams, and in "the tracing of the scarlet thread of Jesus Christ throughout the Bible," (obviously in the New Testament, and especially in the Old Testament,) the painting of the "big picture" is thorough. This book is awesome, on target, and recommended to all!

Witchcraft Goes Mainstream
Uncovering its Alarming Impact on You and Your Family

by Brooks Alexander

I must confess that I am quite a fan of the Harry Potter books and I am getting quite worried! So when I saw this on my way out of Sufes, I thought it would be a good read – at least to keep me in check. I will give a review when I get the chance.

About the book
Motivated by his personal experience in the drug and occult culture of the 60's and his radical conversion to Christ, Brooks Alexander uses his background in law and journalism to authoritatively and clearly demonstrate the true nature of neopaganism. He brings readers up-to-date with his lucid and enlightening descriptions of witchcraft today and our culture's acceptance of it. He concludes by helping Christians formulate a reasonable response and by providing practice suggestions for presenting the gospel to people who are engaged in neopagan practices.

Picture by Brendan Gogarty

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9 comment(s)

  1. Interesting, Maeghan. I haven't heard of any of these, so it will be good to hear your thoughts.

    You & Noel sure know how to live it up! :)

  2. I will not be easy, but I will try - reviewing the books that is.

  3. The subject of witchcraft, and the subject of Harry Potter have nothing in common. My ex had a pagan book laying around that tried to expand on Potter, to draw real-life witchcraft lessons. It was an odd read. If you took out all the actual references to Harry Potter, the book might have been 2 pages shorter.

  4. Codepoke,
    yeah, I now agree. I leafed through the book and find it hard to pick up anything in relation to HP. No mention of HP too and I thought that was odd since there are so many other contemporary mentions of Buffy, Charmed and the like. My friend is going to lend me his HP analysis book - apparently this author found a lot of similarities between HP and stuff in occultic websites. I will have to see what's there.

    The subject of witchcraft, and the subject of Harry Potter have nothing in common.

    Can you elaborate that?

    pagan book

    This too. Coming from my environment, I am more in a culture steep in animism and not witchcraft and therefore I am not too familiar with it. What would one refer to when they use the word "pagan"?

  5. The subject of Harry Potter is Harry Potter. It's a story about a boy learning to be a man under diress. Certain mystical elements are brought in, but to overcome the struggle of each book, Harry needs to be a better man. Harry never needs to control the powers of the universe to win. He never needs to empty himself to be filled by spiritual beings in order to win. He needs to have courage, and use tools at his disposal.

    That's what we all need.

    The mystical background is based upon medieval traditions and fears, but concourse with the demonic is never the subject. Even "familars." Ron had a familar in his rat, Scabbers. But far from being the source of his strength, his muse, Scabbers was a constant source of annoyance until we found out that he was just another magician morphed into a rat.

    A witchcraft book would eventually be leading the reader down the path of trusting a higher intelligence that was part of the universal goodness. A New Age book would lead the reader to trust himself, because he was connected to the universal goodness. HP keeps telling the reader to trust friends, truth, and hard work.

    It's a classic morality tale, nothing more.


    It means a believer in some classic earth-based religion, but I use it to refer to all New Age belief systems. They believe in a "spiritual" and that man can control the flow of the spiritual in the world around him to some small degree. The spiritual is bigger than the man, so he cannot change the universe or anything, but by visualization or offerings or some other fad action, the pagan can make himself more able to be part of the flow, and even influence the flow to some degree.

    It is not far from animism, I don't believe, but I think animism is more granular. The spirit in such and such tree is an independent spirit. New Age paganism makes the spirit in that tree a stream of the universal consciousness, more like the "Force" in Star Wars (which was somewhat more threatening to me than Harry Potter, BTW.) Everything is intertwined, except Christians, who are trying to fragment and stop all evolution toward the higher mind.

  6. BTW - classic witchcraft, with caldrons and all, is pretty much passe around these parts.

  7. You must have spent so much time putting up the comment :) thanks!

    Reading what you said along the lines of what I have read in the witchcraft book, I see what you mean. I don't watch much Buffy or Charmed and so I won't know the difference between these and HP.

    The subject of Harry Potter is Harry Potter.

    Good quote! =D
    In a way I agree but on the other hand I want to be cautious too - but having said that, we need to be cautious of all things.

    concourse with the demonic is never the subject.

    How about Voldemort?
    But I know he can be termed as the just the bad guy ... can he be termed as a "demonic force"?
    They keep saying that HP is getting darker by the book. I don't know if it is just me - I cannot see that it is getting any darker. Did I miss something? Could it be that my definition of "dark" is different?

    Even "familars." Ron had a familar in his rat, Scabbers.

    What is a familar? I checked dictionary.com - but nothing there.

    A witchcraft book would eventually be leading the reader down the path of trusting a higher intelligence that was part of the universal goodness.

    Isn't there any of this in HP? Let me think ... yeah, can't think of any. Though it has a lot on the spiritual realm. Compared to Charmed (dunno about Bufy), Charmed has these white lighters I think, though I am not sure what they are and what they do.

    It's a classic morality tale, nothing more.

    That is the position I want to take but I want it justified I suppose. I do not want to ban it but I do not want to encourage it either, except that it is a good story to read. It certainly brings me back to my younger days when I just love to read and read and read hours on end. I am reliving my days reading into the dead of night -- at one times I was reading past 2am, like I used to when I was younger!

    People talk about feeding kids and opening the world of the occult to them is not good. I dunno - the spells themselves are really amusing and creative play with words. Wingardium Leviosa = Levitate with Wings!

    pagan ... new age

    Yeah ... that is one thing that baffles me. When I look at "New Age" I see the adoption a lot of beliefs of Eastern religions, which I am, not a lot, but quite familiar and used to. So to me, these are not really "new age" but I get the gist of the association ... I think ... :)

  8. BTW - classic witchcraft, with caldrons and all, is pretty much passe around these parts.

    oh that is new to me :)
    i suppose like i said - witches and halloween do have have much of a presence here - what we have are pontianak, orang minyak - Malay versions of devils :)

  9. What is a familar?

    A familar is an animal incarnation of a demon spirit that offers wisdom and power to the witch. The black cat is the traditional familar in fairy tales, but the cat is not really a cat. It sees invisible things, and gives the witch advice and magical stuff.

    Scabbers does none of those things.

    How about Voldemort?

    I agree with you. Voldemort is a demonic bad guy. So, the enemy is demonic. That's not a bad thing. The same is true of Frank Peretti's books. Harry is not calling on stronger demons to combat him. He is using magical tools, yes, but they are not demonic in practice. (BTW, I never thought to look for "Levitate with wings." :-] Is that Latin or anagram?)

    As for the darkness, it's an "english language" thing. I think the authors are being sloppy. They are using a word that has about 500 meanings, and not defining which one they mean. They mean emotionally darker. Harry is dealing with physical intimacy, so it is darker. He is dealing with death and dying, so it is darker. He is finding more cracks in his own and his friends personalities, so it is darker.

    Spiritually, I think it is unchanged.

    New Age

    Weekend Fisher really explains New Age perfectly. It's a made up hodge-podge of whatever makes its adherents feel powerful and alive. They take some Native American stuff (which is probably much like the native names you list below - all 100% new to me), some Zen, some Hindu, some Christian and mix it all into something about eternal light springing with knowledge from within - in other words, they reinvented gnosticism.

    New age = modern gnostic.


    It's a pleasure to write for you. I'm not putting a lot of research into this though. This is just what I know from friends, acquaintances, and one ex-wife.