The Idea of Israel in Second Temple Judaism: A new theory of people, exile, and Israelite identity by J. A. Staples (Cambridge University Press, £29.99 (£26.99); 978-1-108-84286-0).
“In this book, Jason A. Staples proposes a new paradigm for how the biblical concept of Israel developed in Early Judaism and how that concept impacted Jewish apocalyptic hopes for restoration after the Babylonian Exile. Challenging conventional assumptions about Israelite identity in antiquity, his argument is based on a close analysis of a vast corpus of biblical and other early Jewish literature and material evidence. Staples demonstrates that continued aspirations for Israel’s restoration in the context of diaspora and imperial domination remained central to Jewish conceptions of Israelite identity throughout the final centuries before Christianity and even into the early part of the Common Era. He also shows that Israelite identity was more diverse in antiquity than is typically appreciated in modern scholarship. His book lays the groundwork for a better understanding of the so-called ‘parting of the ways’ between Judaism and Christianity and how earliest Christianity itself grew out of hopes for Israel's restoration.”
Galatians: Commentaries for Christian formation by N. T. Wright (Eerdmans, £32.99 (£29.69); 978-0-8028-2560-5).
“While full of theological import, Paul's letter to the Galatians also captures and memorialises a significant moment in the early history of Christianity. This commentary from N. T. Wright offers a theological interpretation of Galatians that never loses sight of the political concerns of its historical context. With these two elements of the letter in dialogue with each other, readers can understand both what Paul originally meant and how his writing might be faithfully used to respond to present questions. Each section of verse-by-verse commentary in this volume is followed by Wright's reflections on what the text says about Christian formation today, making this an excellent resource for individual readers and those preparing to teach or preach on Galatians.”
The Gospel According to a Sitcom Writer by James Cary (SPCK, £10.99 (Church Times SPECIAL OFFER PRICE £8.99); 978-0-281-08563-7).
“In this sparklingly witty book, BBC sitcom writer, James Cary gives us a new and liberating way of looking at the gospel as he entertainingly relates it to a modern context, with references ranging from Charles Dickens to The Vicar of Dibley. Cheerfully playing around with the text, he takes the Bible seriously but allows us to laugh at our own petty vanities and foibles — and be enlightened in the process.”
Selected by Aude Pasquier, of the Church House Bookshop, which operates the Church Times Bookshop.