New From Fortress/WJK: Good Stuff

A recent announcement from Dove (which is currently offering these titles at various discounts). There are a number of good-looking books here; I’m particularly interested in Dale Martin’s take on biblical pedagogy, which I plan to read before teaching the subject again.

Davies, Philip R
Memories of Ancient Israel: An Introduction to Biblical History-Ancient and Modern
(Westminster John Knox, 2008)
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Recent years have seen an explosion of writing on the history of Israel, prompted largely by definitive archaeological surveys and attempts to write a genuine archaeological history of ancient Israel and Judah. The scholarly world has also witnessed an intense confrontation between so-called minimalists and maximalists over the correct approach to the historicity of the Bible. Memories of Ancient Israel looks at the issues at stake in doing biblical historythe ideologies involved, the changing role of archaeology, and the influence of cultural contexts, both ancient and modern. Davies suggests a different way of defining the problem of reliability and historicity by employing the theory of cultural memory. In doing so, he provides a better explanation of how ancient societies constructed their past but also a penetrating insight into the ideological underpinnings of today’s scholarly debates.

Gravett, Sandra L Karla G. Bohmbach, F.V. Greifenhagen, Donald C. Polaski
Introduction to The Hebrew Bible: A Thematic Approach
(Westminster John Knox, 2008)
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This pedagogically astute introduction to the Hebrew Bible is designed specifically for undergraduates. It begins with the most basic questions: from where and when did the Hebrew Bible originate, how was it written, and how did people read it? And in focusing on the fundamental question of the canon “Who are we,”it first gives much attention to the issues of identity, especially in contexts of family, gender, ethnicity, and class. Then it explores how the ancient Israelites organized themselves in terms of power and state, and finally delineates the larger questions of God and ideology within the canon. The result is a flow of topics that yields a textbook more in line with other studies of ancient literature and culture. Without ignoring the religious function of the Hebrew Bible, it instead presents religion as a part of every aspect of existence. Through art, photography, literature, and popular culture, this text vibrantly presents the concepts of the Hebrew Bible and offers a companion Web site for teachers, with tests and other pedagogical aids.

Horsley, Richard A (ed)
In The Shadow of Empire: Reclaiming The Bible as a History of Faithful Resistance
(Westminster John Knox, 2008)
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The Bible tells the stories of many empires. And many are still considered some of the largest of the ancient and classical world: the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Persians, the Greeks, and finally the Romans. In this provocative book, eight experts bring a critical analysis of these world empires in the background of the Old and New Testaments. As they explain, the Bible developed against the context of these empires, providing concrete meaning to the countercultural claims of Jews and Christians that their God was the true King, the real Emperor. Each chapter describes how to read the Bible as a reaction to empire and points to how to respond to the biblical message to resist imperial powers in every age.

Kessler, Rainer Linda M. Maloney (trans)
Social History of Ancient Israel: An Introduction
(Augsburg Fortress, 2008)
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Histories of ancient Israel have usually focused attention on major figures in powerful positions: kings, prophets, and patriarchs. Kessler asks about the larger social patterns that shaped the everyday life of ordinary people, from the emergence of Israel in the hills of Canaan, to the Jewish populations of Greek city-states in the Hellenistic age. The introductory section includes discussion of social history as discipline and as method, event history and the “long haul,” the representation of social history, and the history of research. Two other sections explore the methods of the social history of Israel and the epochs of Israel’s social history, including discussions of environment as living space, Israel’s emergence as a kinship-based society, exile and its consequences, and more. Includes a time line, glossary of terms, maps and illustrations.

Lemche, Niels Peter
Old Testament between Theology and History: A Critical Survey
(Westminster John Knox, 2008)
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From its inception at the time of the Enlightenment until the mid-twentieth century, the historical-critical method constituted the dominant paradigm in Old Testament studies. In this magisterial overview, Niels Peter Lemche surveys the development of the historical-critical method and the way it changed the scholarly perception of the Old Testament. In part 1 he describes the rise and influence of historical-critical approaches, while in part 2 he traces their decline and fall. Then, in part 3, he discusses the identity of the authors of the Old Testament, based on the content of the literature they wrote, demonstrating that the collapse of history does not preclude critical study. Part 4 investigates the theological consequences of this collapse and surveys Old Testament and biblical theology in its various manifestations in the twentieth century. An appendix includes a history of Palestine from the Stone Age to modern times, constructed without recourse to the Old Testament.

Maier, Christl M
Daughter Zion, Mother Zion: Gender, Space, and the Sacred in Ancient Israel
(Augsburg Fortress, 2008)
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In this innovative and important work Christl M. Maier argues that the way Israelites in the exilic and post-exilic periods spoke of Jerusalem as gendered space ? a “female” city ? helps us trace reactions to the crisis of exile and the emergence of a new national-religious identity. Taking up the Zion tradition in Isaiah of Jerusalem, Jeremiah, Hosea, Ezekiel, and Lamentations, Maier explores motifs of Jerusalem as mother, daughter, bride, whore, and injured victim. Her interpretation of gendered metaphors also helps us understand contemporary political and religious constructions of gender and political power.

Martin, Dale B
Pedagogy of the Bible: An Analysis and Proposal
(Westminster John Knox, 2008)
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For generations, most seminary teaching of the Bible has focused on the historical-critical method. While this method has been the assumption in almost every seminary curriculum, the actual effects of this approach to Scripture have hardly been examined. From studying the biblical studies courses at ten different seminaries and divinity schools, Dale Martin learned what faculties were doing and what students were hearing. This book presents his discoveries, offering the best-ever inside look into the teaching of the Bible for ministry. Going beyond mere description, Martin argues for a new emphasis on interpreting Scripture within the context of church history and theology. Such a reading would be more theological, more integrated into the whole theological curriculum, and more theoretical (as it would focus on whats at stake in interpretation); however, Martin surprisingly argues, it would be more practical at the same time.

McCready, Wayne O
Common Judaism: Explorations in Second-Temple Judaism
(Augsburg Fortress, 2008)
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Two decades after the publication of E. P. Sanders’s monumental Judaism: Practice and Belief inaugurated vigorous debates about the extent and significance of commonality and diversity in ancient Judaism, Common Judaism gathers a host of scholars to present the state of our understanding of what was common ground in Second-Temple Judaism. By examining the tensions between a “common Judaism” and local settings, partisan Judaism, and the influence of Hellenism, these essays set contemporary discussion on a secure footing. An important resource for scholars and students alike, the contributors include: Lee L. Levine, Susan Haber, Daniel Poxon, David Miller, Eliezer Segal, and many more. Including an introductory essay by E.P. Sanders, this should become a standard reference work in the fields of early Judaism and New Testament studies.

O’Brien, Julia M
Challenging Prophetic Metaphor: Theology and Ideology in the Prophets
(Westminster John Knox, 2008)
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The prophets of the Old Testament use a wide variety of metaphors to describe God and to portray how to understand people in relation to God. Some of these metaphors are familiar and soothing; others are unfamiliar and confusing. Still others portray God in ways that are difficult and uncomfortableGod as abusive husband, for instance, or as neglectful father. Julia OBrien searches the prophetic books for these metaphors, looking for ways that the different images intersect and build off each other. When confronted with disturbing metaphors, she deals with them unflinchingly, providing a sharp critique and evaluation of the interpretations of these metaphors for God. Giving particular attention to the possible uses of these metaphors in the church todayfor good or illOBrien listens to the fullness of the prophetic messages and points us toward new ways to read these theological metaphors for a just faith today.

Perdue, Leo G
Wisdom Literature: A Theological History
(Westminster John Knox, 2007)
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The Old Testament’s wisdom literature offers one of the most intriguing collections of biblical books (Proverbs, Job, the Psalms about Torah and wisdom, Ecclesiastes, Qoheleth, Ben Sira, and the Wisdom of Solomon). In this magisterial textbook, preeminent wisdom scholar Leo G. Perdue sets each book of wisdom in its historical context, examining the conditions that produced the book and shaped its thinking. This allows him to show how wisdom thought changed over time in response to shifting historical and social conditions. Not only analyzing the historical setting of wisdom, Perdue discerns the theological themes and theological developments within this rich literature.

Sawyer, John F A
Concise Dictionary of the Bible and Its Reception
(Westminster John Knox, 2009)
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This dictionary not only identifies terms and biblical figures but examines them from the perspective of “reception history”-the history of the Bible’s effect on its readers. Biblical books, passages, and characters certainly played important roles in the history of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, but they also influenced other religious traditions, preachers, writers, poets, artists, and filmmakers. The study of such cultural effects of the Bible is an emerging field, and this work promises to open new avenues of exploration.


2 Responses to “New From Fortress/WJK: Good Stuff”

  1. 1 Beth Lewis
    March 8, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for featuring several of our recent publications! While our Fortress Press publications are primarily intended as primary and secondary texts and reference resources for university & seminary classes, we find that they are also frequently used for schools of lay theological education, adult forums in congregations and by pastors and other leaders for individual reading. Blessings, Beth A. Lewis
    President & CEO, Augsburg Fortress, http://www.fortresspress.com

  2. 2 Beth Lewis
    March 8, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    Thanks for featuring several of our recent publications! While our Fortress Press publications are primarily intended as primary and secondary texts and reference resources for university & seminary classes, we find that they are also frequently used for schools of lay theological education, adult forums in congregations and by pastors and other leaders for individual reading. Blessings, Beth A. Lewis
    President & CEO, Augsburg Fortress, http://www.fortresspress.com

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