Book and Reading Notes 6/19/14

I’ve been reading Susanna Heschel’s study of Abraham Geiger, and it’s been a fascinating look into biblical scholarship in the 19th century as a whole, focusing on the anti-Jewish strains in Protestant theology of that time. Geiger’s re-conception of Judaism and the Pharisees is pretty interesting and was an effective way to combat the tendency to pit Jesus against Judaism.

I continue to read Nussbaum’s ‘Therapy of Desire’, and am making my way through a detailed account of Lucretius’ arguments against the fear of death. So far I’ve made it through Aristotelian, Epicurean and Lucretian arguments against everything from methodology, to love, desire, disgust, the good life, etc. Epicurus focuses on right belief as essential to the ethical good life, which is pretty interesting.

I just received Kenneth Kitchens ‘On the Reliability of the Old Testament’, which I’m told is the best maximalist account of OT history in print, drawing extensively on both the archaeological and textual evidence.. I look forward to getting into this massive (over 600 page) study.

Along with that I got Gilson’s ‘God and Philosophy’, where, by way of survey of ancient Greek, Christian and modern philosophy, he tackles the question of God. I’ve skimmed thru this volume before but never read it in depth – but it’s Gilson, so you know it’s going to be good. Gilson might be one of the best philosophers I’ve read – his command of the sources and knowledge of the history of philosophy combined with his penetrating insights yield some of the deepest philosophical writing out there.

I continue to slowly make my way through ‘Second Foundation’, and continue to enjoy in a way I’ve enjoyed very few other works of fiction. Asimov is a master of dialogue, no doubt about it. The universe of the Foundation is as good of a fictional world as Tolkien’s Middle-Earth – speaking of, I need to get the two new Tolkien books (Arthur and Beowulf) that have come out.

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