The First Biography of Jesus: Genre and meaning in Mark’s Gospel by Helen K. Bond (Eerdmans, £35 (£31.50); 978-0-8028-7460-3).
“Reading the gospels as ancient biographies makes a profound difference to the way that we interpret them. Biography immortalizes the memory of the subject, creating a literary monument to the person's life and teaching. Yet it is also a bid to legitimize a specific view of that figure and to position an author and his audience as appropriate ‘gatekeepers’ of that memory. Biography was well suited to the articulation of shared values and commitments, the formation of group identity, and the binding together of a past story, present concerns, and future hopes. Helen Bond argues that Mark’s author used the genre of biography to extend the gospel from an earlier narrow focus on the death and resurrection of Jesus so that it included the way of life of its founding figure. Situating Jesus at the heart of a biography was a bold step in outlining a radical form of Christian discipleship patterned on the life — and death — of Jesus.”
Broken by Fear, Anchored in Hope: Faithfulness in an age of anxiety by Rob Merchant (SPCK £12.99 (£11.69); 978-0-281-08315-2).
“One in four of us will experience mental-health problems. Shame, fear, anger and despair are our unwelcome fellow travellers, as Rob Merchant knows to his cost. We can resort to self-medicating through consuming, working, or other distractions, to hide who we are. Rob has tried them and discovered they don’t deliver. Healing starts when we accept our vulnerability. True mental health — and true resilience — develop as we surrender wholly to Christ. Rob explores how we can move away from terror and self-loathing. As we acknowledge our vulnerability, and our place before God, we can discover forgiveness of others and of self, and find hope. It is never easy, but it works, because it’s true.”
God’s Church in the World: The gift of Catholic mission, edited by Susan Lucas (Canterbury Press, £14.99 (£13.50); 978-1-78622-2404).
“God’s Church in the World: The Gift of Catholic Mission presents a confident and joyful assertion of the Catholic character of Christian mission and its sacramental nature, exploring the transforming role the Catholic tradition can play in evangelism. A range of outstanding contributors explore the gifts that the Catholic tradition — formed by a conviction that the presence of Christ in the Eucharist intensifies and motivates an awareness of the sacramental presence of Christ in the world — can bring to the church’s engagement with the world.”