The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christians read the same stories differently by Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Zvi Brettler (Harper One, £29.99 (£26.99); 978-0-06-256015-5).
“The editors of The Jewish Annotated New Testament show how and why Jews and Christians read many of the same Biblical texts — including passages from the Pentateuch, the Prophets, and the Psalms — differently. Exploring and explaining these diverse perspectives, they reveal more clearly Scripture’s beauty and power.
“Esteemed Bible scholars and teachers Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Z. Brettler take readers on a guided tour of the most popular Hebrew Bible passages quoted in the New Testament to show what the texts meant in their original contexts and then how Jews and Christians, over time, understood those same texts. Passages include the creation of the world, the role of Adam and Eve, the Suffering Servant of Isiah, the book of Jonah, and Psalm 22, whose words, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me,” Jesus quotes as he dies on the cross.
“Comparing various interpretations — historical, literary, and theological — of each ancient text, Levine and Brettler offer deeper understandings of the original narratives and their many afterlives. They show how the text speaks to different generations under changed circumstances, and so illuminate the Bible’s ongoing significance. By understanding the depth and variety by which these passages have been, and can be, understood, The Bible With and Without Jesus does more than enhance our religious understandings, it helps us to see the Bible as a source of inspiration for any and all readers.”
A People’s Tragedy: Studies in reformation by Eamon Duffy (Bloomsbury, £20 (£18); 978-1-4729-8385-5).
“As an authority on the religion of medieval and early modern England, Eamon Duffy is preeminent. In his revisionist masterpiece The Stripping of the Altars, Duffy opened up new areas of research and entirely fresh perspectives on the origin and progress of the English Reformation. Duffy's focus has always been on the practices and institutions through which ordinary people lived and experienced their religion, but which the Protestant reformers abolished as idolatry and superstition. The first part of A People’s Tragedy examines the two most important of these institutions: the rise and fall of pilgrimage to the cathedral shrines of England, and the destruction of the monasteries under Henry VIII, as exemplified by the dissolution of the ancient Anglo-Saxon monastery of Ely. In the title essay of the volume, Duffy tells the harrowing story of the Elizabethan regime’s savage suppression of the last Catholic rebellion against the Reformation, the Rising of the Northern Earls in 1569. In the second half of the book Duffy considers the changing ways in which the Reformation has been thought and written about: the evolution of Catholic portrayals of Martin Luther, from hostile caricature to partial approval; the role of historians of the Reformation in the emergence of English national identity; and the improbable story of the twentieth century revival of Anglican and Catholic pilgrimage to the medieval Marian shrine of Walsingham. Finally, he considers the changing ways in which attitudes to the Reformation have been reflected in fiction, culminating with Hilary Mantel’s gripping trilogy on the rise and fall of Henry VIII's political and religious fixer, Thomas Cromwell, and her controversial portrayal of Cromwell's Catholic opponent and victim, Sir Thomas More.”
Sin and Grace: Evangelical soteriology in historical perspective by Tony Lane (Apollos, £19.99 (£17.99); 978-1-78359-672-0).
“Tony Lane surveys a wide range of doctrines relating to our experience of God’s gracious salvation. He begins with our need as sinful and fallen people, moves on to consider what is involved in becoming a Christian — majoring on justification (being put right with God) — and concludes with sanctification (living the Christian life). As well as expounding various aspects of these doctrines, Lane introduces their historical roots in classical expositions. Lane warns that these doctrines are in danger of being lost by significant sectors of evangelicalism, and he explains them clearly. He encourages readers to hold firmly to an evangelical soteriology, having a greater understanding of it and a stronger conviction of its truth, with experience of its application to Christian discipleship.”
Selected by Aude Pasquier, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.