Words on the Living Word: 7 Books for Bible Geeks and Other Interested Readers

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An Unsettling God: The Heart of the Hebrew Bible, by Walter Brueggemann. Old Testament scholar Brueggemann plays out in detail the tension in the Hebrew scriptures between a feral God who wants relationship (but not domestication) and the people of God who want a static deity, a "king." The peoples' tendency toward settledness and a desire to "go it alone" lead to systems of defeat that can only be overturned by a dynamic agency outside those systems. This is deep biblical exploration from one of our leading scholars. Fortress Press

The Peoples' Companion to the Bible, edited by Curtiss Paul DeYoung, Wilda C. Gafney, Leticia A. Guardiola-Saenz, George Tinker, and Frank M. Yamada. Following the success of The Peoples' Bible, this Companion textbook enables students to learn how social location contributes to scriptural interpretation. With 60 contributors writing on all the books of the Bible from Native-American, African-American, Latino/a, Asian-American and Euro-American cultural perspectives, this collection is a primer on the cultural gumbo in which the texts originally were written and to which they will speak in the mid-21st century, when more than 50 percent of the U.S. population will be of non-European descent. Fortress Press

Preaching in an Age of Globalization, by Eunjoo Mary Kim. Kim develops a concept of "transcontextual preaching" that builds on global solidarity across difference and allows various voices and cultures--including the scriptures' original social-historical context--to offer commentary on the text and on our own lives. This is a book for working preachers and students of preaching. Kim lays out a set of questions that preachers and Bible study leaders can ask themselves before they build sermons or lesson plans and includes four brilliant sermons as examples that are well worth the price of admission. Westminster John Knox

Paul Among the People: The Apostle Reinterpreted and Reimagined in His Own Time, by Sarah Ruden. During a Quaker Bible study course, Ruden discovered that the English translation of Galatians she was studying did not match what she knew about the original Greek. As an acclaimed translator of Virgil's Aeneid, Ruden's training is in polytheistic classical literature and, specifically, the bawdy pop-lit of that time. Ruden takes on Paul's most controversial topics--pleasure and "flesh," slavery, women, homosexuality, the state--and sets interpretations in their cultural context. …