Friday, June 19, 2009

Tagged on the 5 books meme

I have been tagged by J.K.Gayle with the 'Books that influenced you most on reading the Bible' meme. Kurk has influenced me or should I say confirmed some other older influencers that I must struggle to remember.

The first and longest lasting Book that influenced my reading of the Bible is the Bible itself - if that can be said to be a 'book'. The Psalms taught me to lament - to point my complaint to the source of my troubles. This is not a religious or an intellectual exercise. Let me call it a whole-body approach to reading. This experience has taught me a certain skepticism towards all other books about the Bible that teach us to read it. There are a few that escape the net of my doubts. It is a personal engagement and honest transparency that I think makes me sit up, take note, and remember their words.

Chief of these is a recent small book: Jonathan Magonet, A Rabbi Reads the Psalms I have always loved structure for its framing ability and the possibility of seeing the ground rather than the figure - opening one's eyes to other possibilities.

Structure reminds me of another influence by the atheist writer, Douglas Hofstader, Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid. Poor Douglas - to think he failed to influence me with the foreground of his argument, but succeeded in delighting me with the background. I can't figure why he himself seems to have left himself so apparently certain about his conclusions. (Other atheists I have read and enjoyed - Bertrand Russel and Richard Dawkins).

Of 'religious' writers, Hans Küng weighs me down with the heaviness of all his books. The one that has influenced my thought on the Bible is his book on The Church. And I am still pondering the mystery of governance.

A name close to my heart is a person whom I did not get to know well enough, but whose son, Gregor, is our CBC morning show host, that is: Peter Craigie, and the book The Problem of War in the Old Testament. The influence was more personal than on a 'content' level.

Another more recent influence is Richard Bauckham. Gospel Women allowed me to see how scholarship could inform imaginative reconstruction without being deliberative - whatever I mean my that! Crossan - another reconstructionist scholar - has ended up in my mind as a man of justice, where justice transcends his deliberative theories. Bauckham allows for reconstruction without a full theory of something else that you have to believe. My own reconstructions and imaginations have receded into my background for the time being.

I am sure I have been unfair and incomplete in these brief recollections. (Whoa - don't forget Mark Nanos and the Mystery of Romans or Lawrence Hoffman, Covenant of Blood. I delight in the reasoning that comes from a Jewish background. Mark and I have our differences but I hope that my questions last in him as his questions have in me. Both Nanos and Hoffman raise questions about our differences that should be front and centre in our discussions of how covenant works.)

I see this meme has gone the rounds so I will refrain from tagging others. Rest assured though, fellow bloggers, I do recognize the influence you have on me - sometimes it glances off and sometimes it sticks.

Afterthoughts - and what about all that English poetry - Donne, Herbert, Milton, ... or even further back, A. A. Milne's Winnie the Pooh and Lewis Carrol's Alice. What would I know about the glory of Capitalization without these two?

One of my employees told me his list too - including the poems of T.S. Eliot and Robert Capon (who has also made me laugh with his The Third Peacock) - but there are so many. I forget some of the old Anglican divines who would shudder at my stance on some things - like Stephen Neill and William Temple - and of course Lewis's The Great Divorce - probably the best exploration of the pattern of the use of the cross of anyone I have read.

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