Witherington’s ‘New Testament History’ has been a fantastic read. In terms of setting the historical/sociological NT scene, this has been a pretty hard to beat book. Perfect combination of overview and details, but not so abstract or technical in either of those as to be off-putting. Highly recommended.
I finished Wright’s ‘How God Became King’ yesterday. Interesting book, and in a lot of what Wright says, he’s pretty much dead on. His main thesis is that by and large, the life of Jesus has been forgotten or just not cared about by the Church, and I think he’s broadly correct. A lot of theological development in the last 2000 years has more or less ignored a lot of things that Wright (and the NPP in general) have brought to the fore: the Jewishness of Jesus, the Jewish context of the early church, the four Gospels place in the overall narrative of Scripture, Jesus’ self-understanding in light of his Jewish beliefs, the narrative of Israel, etc etc. Most of this has been replaced by ‘Jesus died so we could go to heaven’, with very little being said about any of the aforementioned things. He critiques the creeds, early church theology, and pretty much everyone else in church history. Great book.
I just received and started reading ‘The World of the New Testament: Cultural, Social and Historical Contexts’ and it’s been great so far as well. The articles I’ve read have been on the themes of exile, monotheism and the Pharisees, and each essay has been fantastically well written. Great reference source for anyone interested in the subject matter.
I went to a local aquarium today, and was reminded of how much fun science can be when it’s actually about real, living things. Oceanography is pretty far removed from a lot of the metaphysical/philosophical debates that plague, say, physics or neuroscience, and that makes it an absolute joy to do. My grandmother was a volunteer at a major aquarium for years, and my childhood memories are full of day long trips there. It’s a science in the best sense of the word.