I recently finished Twelve Ordinary Men by John MacArthur. A look at the twelve disciples, whose many weaknesses are forever preserved throughout the pages of the New Testament. Jesus chose ordinary men - fisherman, tax collectors, political zealots - and turned their weakness into strength, producing greatness from utter uselessness. I'm planning on writing a review of it for another website.
I've also been reading King Arthur and His Knights, a bunch of selected tales by Sir Thomas Malory, edited by Eugene Vinaver. This particular book includes English Arthurian fiction directly attributable to Malory's original tales; including thoroughly readable accounts of the exploits of King Arthur, Merlin, Sir Lancelot, Gawain and the Green Knight, and the legend of the Holy Grail. This book is particularly entertaining, as it is much more graphic and tragic than any of the Arthurian Fairy tales I've read/watched before.
I also got some books to read today. One I bought some time ago, but had been busy readin other stuff and never got to it. The Annals and The Histories by Tactitus. That should be a fun read. I also picked up The Documents of Vatican II. I've heard alot about Vatican II in seminary, but never got a chance to read through it myself. I also picked up the Literary Study of the Bible by Richard G. Moulton (of Moulton and Milligan fame) circa June 1899. I read through most of what I've wanted to in that already, but the foreward is just amazing...
Excerpt: PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION An author falls naturally into an apologetic tone if he is proposing to add yet one more to the number of books on the Bible. Yet I believe the number is few of those to whom the Bible appeals as literature. In part, no doubt, this is due to the forbidding form in which we all te Bible to be presented to us. Let the reader imagine the poems of Wordsworth, the plays of Shakespeare, the essays of Bacon, and the histories of Motley to be bound together in a single volume; let him suppose the titles of the poems and essays cut out and the names of speakers and divisions of speeches removed, the whole divided up into sentences of a convenient length for parsing, and again into lessons containing a larger or smaller number of those sentences. If the reader can carry his imagination through these processes he will have before him a fair parallel to the literary form in which the Bible has come to the modern reader; it is true that the purpose for which it has been split into chapters and verses is something higher than instruction in parsing, but the injury to literary form remains the same. Of course earnest students of Scripture get below the surface of isolated verses. Yet even in the case of deep students the literary element is in danger of being overpowered by other interests. The devout reader, following the Bible as the divine authority for his spiritual life, feels it a distraction to notice literary questions. And thereby he often impedes his own purpose: poring over a passage of Job to discover the message it has for him, and forgetting the while the dramatic form of the book, as a result of getting all the while the dramatic form of the book, as a result of which the speaker of the very passage he is studying is in the end pronounced by God himself to have said the thing is "not right." Another has been led by his studies to cast off the authority of the Bible, and he will not look for literary pleasure to that which has for him associations with a yoke from which he has been delivered. A third approaches Scripture with equal reverence and scholarship. Yet even for him there is a danger at the present moment, when the very bulk of the discussion tends to crowd out the thing discussed, and but one person is willing to read the Bible for every ten who are ready to read about it. Now for all these types of readers the literary study of the Bible is a common meeting-ground. One who recognises that God has been pleased to put his revelation of himself in the form of literature, must surely go on to see that literary form is a thing worthy of study. The agnostic will not deny that, if every particle of authority and supernatural character be taken from the Bible, it will remain on the world's great literatures, second to none. And the most polemic of all investigators must admit that appreciation is the end, and polemics only the means. I am desirous that the reader should, from the outset, understand exactly in what sense I use the words I have adopted as the title of this work - The Literary Study of the Bible. Of course, the Bible being a literature, there is a sense in which every careful treatment of Scripture has a claim to be called literary study. Yet, in the sense in which I use the term, the Literary Study of the Bible is a new study. Its newness rests, not upon sudden advance in our knowledge of Semitic peoples and institutions, but upon our changed attitude to the whole field of literary investigation. It is not too much to say that the Study of Literature, properly called, is just the beginning. In the past we have concerned ourselves, not with Literature, but with Literatures: the writings of Greek, of Hebrew, of German writers have been reviewed in connection with the Greek, the Hebrew, the German language and history, as elements in Greek, Hebrew, German studies. We are now beginning to feel that there is a separate entity, Literature, which claims to itself a special type of treatment. Such a change is a repetition of what has bee seen elsewhere in the field of education and research. There was a time when Greek and German philosophical works were considered to belong to the special studies of Greek or German; now everyone will recognize a Study of Philosophy, one and undivided, in relation to which Greek philosophy and German philosophy are contributing elements. So the investigation which recognizes the unity of literature, and frames its methods solely in the application to this literary field, is the newer Study of Literature; and in the spirit of this study the present work has been undertaken. A fundamental change in the scope of literary investigation carries other changes with it. When literature was linked with language and history in one common study, it was inevitable that the historical element in literature should become prominent. In the broader field of independent literary study the historical side of literature falls into the background. In its place another element comes into prominence ? what may be called morphological treatment: the inquiry into the foundation forms of literature, such as Epic, Lyric, Dramatic, the varieties of these, and the detailed structure by which each form is built up. Nowhere has literary morphology so important a place as in application to the Sacred Scriptures. If the question be of Greek or of English, it is taken for granted that a large variety of literary types are t be expected. On the other hand, it comes to most people as a novelty to hear that the Bible is made up of epics, lyrics, dramas, essays, sonnets, philosophical works, histories, and the like. More than this, centuries of unliterary tradition have so affected the outer surface of Scripture, that the successive literary works appear joined together without distinction, until it becomes the hardest of tasks to determine, in the Bible, exactly where one work of literature ends and another begins. The morphological analysis of Scripture thus urgently required is precisely the purpose to which I have applied myself for this present work: it is ?An Account of the leading Forms of Literature represented in the Sacred Writings.? And its underlying principle is that a clear grasp of the outer literary form is an essential guide to the inner matter of spirit. It is the more necessary to insist upon a distinctively literary study of the Bible from the fact that the type of Bible study which at the present moment is most prominent, and which from the magnitude even of its undisputed results has a claim to that prominence, is of a different character. The ?Higher Criticism? ? so it is called in popular phraseology- seems to me in the main an historical analysis. Its allegiance is not to literature, but to Semitic Studies, in which literary questions are inextricably interwoven with questions of language and history. It goes beyond the text of Scripture to a further inquiry into the authority of the existing text, its mode of composition, the dates and surrounding conditions of its authorship. Historic Criticism examines by historic methods. In the inquiry here undertaken topics like these will have scarcely any place. Literary investigation stops short at the question what we have in the text of the Bible, without examining how it has come to us. Whoever may be responsible fro the Sacred Scriptures as they stand, these are worthy of examination for their own sake; and the literary study of the Bible brings to bear on these writings the light that comes from ascertaining the exact form they are found to present. Among the chief difficulties of what is here attempted must be reckoned the large number of readers permeated with the exclusive historic spirit, to such an extent that they can recognize no other element in literary study. They would assume for the whole of literature what is true only for particular works; seeing how Dryden?s Satires are without point for those who are unversed in Restoration politics, they fail to see that Shakespeare?s plays may produce their full effect even upon a reader who is unaware that the historical Macbeth was a good king. Such a spirit prevails largely among Bible scholars. Yet their own studies might have taught them differently. What is to be said about the question of Joel? No portion of the Bible is more captivating to the literary instinct: but how is literature to be helped here by history? A few years ago the historians were in practical agreement that this prophecy was to be referred to the age of Joash; now our critical orthodoxy depends upon our recognizing for it a post-exilic date. Between the two periods is an interval of some five centuries, and the variety of surrounding conditions is such that, as a distinguished Hebraist has said, the question of Joel is like the discussion whether a particular work was produced under William the conqueror or under Cromwell. No discredit whatever attaches to historic studies on the ground of this difference of opinions, for the simple truth is that the book of Joel does not contain sufficient evidence for settling its date; the case is like that of an indeterminate equation, to which there may be half a dozen equally accurate solutions. But in this case what becomes of the condition that literature can be appreciated only in light of its historic surroundings? If we go outside the polemic atmosphere of Biblical Criticism it is easier to obtain recognition for the distinction between historic and purely literary treatment. Shakespeare has given us certain historical plays: there arise in reference to these just the questions that are agitated in regard to the Sacred Scriptures. One critic thinks the plays the work of William Shakespeare; another thinks they were written by Bacon; another laughs at both opinions and believes the author unknown. Yet another discriminates, and by internal evidence discovers that the plays were composed by Shakespeare and certain coadjurators: he is ready, when called upon, to produce a polychrome edition in which the Shakespeare, the Marlowe, and the Fletcher elements will be distinguished to the eye. One commentator, like Coleridge, takes his history of England from the plays; another contends that they are on this subject utterly misleading, the dramatist having first used untrustworthy materials, and then altered freely with a view to other than historic effects. Yet it is clear that six persons representing these different historical views might unite amicably in a box at a theatre to witness the performance of one of these plays; they might, not improbably, find themselves in entire agreement as to the literary force and significance of every passage. It would seem absurd, on the other hand, if one of these critics were to interrupt in order to protest that the passage just commenced by the actor was not Shakespeare?s, or that recent discoveries in Spanish state papers had shown the motive assigned in the play to Henry?s foreign policy to be incorrect, and if actors and audience, in the interests of accuracy, agreed to suspend the performance until these questions could be settled. To state these obvious facts is, of course, not to depreciate the historic analysis of Shakespeare in the interests of literary appreciation, but merely to claim that the two studies are entirely different.