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.

Reading Notes 5/26/14

Finally finished ‘Foundation and Empire’. Oh em gee. That ending was great. The Mule is a brilliant character, and I really didn’t see his big ‘reveal’ at the end of the story coming. I’m going to start ‘Second Foundation’ tonight, and very much cannot wait.

I got Nussbaum’s ‘Therapy of Desire’ the other day – it’s a massive study of Hellenistic ethics, which is something I got interested while reading Wolterstorff’s criticism of eudaimonistic ethics in ‘Justice: Rights and Wrongs’. I love reading books like this – books in which a real scholar does real scholarly work without being pretentious. I’m about 45 pages or so in, and her handling of the subject is masterful – she’s a scholar who has truly immersed herself in Hellenistic ethics, and it shows. 10/10.

I also got James K.A. Smith’s ‘Imagining the Kingdom’. The first part of the book is basically constructing a liturgical anthropology and phenomenology of perception as well as a ‘theory of practice’ based on the whole person over against what Smith calls ‘intellectualism’ or the idea that all man is is a thinking thing. Lots and lots and lots of interaction with Maurice Merleau-Ponty, which is cool, because he’s not someone with whom I’m familiar with except for the name and that he’s French. Big focus on the roles of habit and narrative in how we perceive and constitute the world.

Reading Notes 4/18/14

I continue to make headway through Wright’s ‘Jesus and the Victory of God’, and just finished the section ‘Symbol and Controversy’. Wright focused on Jesus’ challenge to the great symbols of Israel – the temple, Torah, food, land, and family – and his redefinition of them around himself. This has been a very intriguing section, with my favourite part being Wright’s detailed exposition and explanation of the reasons why Jesus went toe-to-toe with the Pharisees.

Asimov’s ‘Foundation and Empire’ is getting better – there was, as I said before, a rather awkward start but it’s finally picked up steam. I look very much forward to continuing the series. I looked everywhere for my copy of ‘I, Robot’, but couldn’t find it, so I’ll have to buy it eventually.

My wife and I watched ‘Valkyrie’ this week, and I forgot how enjoyable of a film that is. Great WW2 moral-dilemna film. I’m going to watch ‘Good’ with Viggo Mortensen next (not with him, the film simply features him).

Other than that, not much reading lately, as I’ve been pretty tired during the week. I’ll hopefully catch up, since this is a long weekend and I’m taking a few days off afterwards.