In this book, Moberly offers a series of theological reflection on select biblical texts. It is designed to be a sequel to his earlier work, The Theology of the Book of Genesis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009). The book is comprised of an introduction, eight “freestanding” chapters, an epilogue and indices. Although each of the eight chapters can be read on its own without any knowledge of the other chapters, the studies are arranged in a particular order to give shape and coherence to the book. Whereas the first five chapters focus on the topics that are “‘doctrinally foundational’ for the vision of God and of human life with God”, the last three chapters turn to “perennially problematic dimensions within human response to God” (p.281). In terms of format, technical discussions are partitioned into separate paragraphs on the same page in smaller fonts, or otherwise footnoted. This is meant to help the readers, who have little or no knowledge of Hebrew or who simply want to read the book without worrying about the minutiae, navigate through the main thrust of the argument.
2014.10.16 | Nicola Denzey Lewis. Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity: Under Pitiless Skies. (Nag Hammadi and Manichaean Studies 81). Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2013.
Reviewed by Sarah Parkhouse, Durham University.
Many thanks to Brill for providing a review copy.
Nicola Denzey Lewis’ Cosmology and Fate in Gnosticism and Graeco-Roman Antiquity reveals that in Gnostic and Graeco-Roman texts, the skies are not pitiless. The aims of the book are three-fold: firstly, a survey of how second-century authors understood astrological fate (heimarmene) as controlled by cosmic beings; secondly, the suggestion that these authors (almost) consistently offered their readers an escape from heimarmene; and, thirdly, further deconstruction of the orthodoxy-heresy dichotomy. The book demonstrates Denzey Lewis’ impressive knowledge of all things second century, explicitly shown by her ability to discuss fate in New Testament, Middle Platonic, Stoic, Gnostic, Manichean, Hermetic, pagan and proto-orthodox texts, despite stating that ‘language of “enslavement to Fate” in antiquity was rare’ (p.28).
2014.9.15 | Gregory S. Smith. The Testing of God’s Sons: The Refining of Faith as a Biblical Theme. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2014. pp. xviii + 222. ISBN: 9780805464184.
Review by Kerry Lee.
Many thanks to B&H Academic for providing a review copy.
The Testing of God’s Sons by Gregory S. Smith is primarily an exploration of the literary theme of “testing”, a theme that is especially important in Genesis but that, Smith also argues, is a unifying theme in the entire Pentateuch and even the entire Christian Bible. Additionally, to support his case, he engages in a limited semantic field analysis of common Hebrew terms that communicate the idea of testing. He argues that underlying the use of these terms is a metallurgical metaphor, and Smith finds that one particular term that is important to his literary analysis of the theme of testing in the Bible, Hebrew bāḥan, is connected to the idea of a “touchstone”, meaning the purpose of the testing is authentication (more than “refining” or “revealing”).