Sunday, November 30, 2014

Closing Issue 8.4 and Volume 8 and Opening Volume 9


 
This post will mark the last entry in QBR 8.4 Angels' Tide,
and the opening entry in Volume 9 of
Liturgy, Hymnody, and Pulpit Quarterly Book Review,
also known as Lutheran Book Review.
(LBR = LHPQBR)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Received for Review


Farrel, Bill. 7 Simple Skills for Every Man: Success in Relationships, Work , and Your Walk with God. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2014. Paper. $10.99. http://harvesthousepublishers.com/book/7-simple-skillstm-for-every-man-2014/ (LHPN)


Received for Review

Rowthorn, Jeffry and Russell Schulz-Widmar, Compilers and Editors. Sing of the World Made New: Hymns of Justice, Peace and Christian Responsibility. Carol Stream, IL/Chicago: Hope Publishing Company/GIA Publications, 2014. 297 Pages. Spiral. $18.95. http://www.giamusic.com/search_details.cfm?title_id=20518 (H)

Schalk, Carl. Sing with All the Saints: Twenty-one New Hymns and Carols for Congregation, Choir, and Accompaniment. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2014. 59 Pages. Staple. $12.00. http://www.giamusic.com/search_details.cfm?title_id=23480 (H)

Jones, Jacque B. Songs Unchanged, Yet Ever-Changing: 50 Hymn Texts. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2014. 128 Pages Spiral. $19.95.  http://www.giamusic.com/search_details.cfm?title_id=23892 (H)



Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Quick Summaries for mid November 2014: Overcoming False Dichotomies


Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
of releases that cross our QBR desk. 

These are reviews for when you don't have all day 
to decide whether a resource is worth
your time, money, storage space, or trouble.

Ross, Melanie C. Foreword by Mark A. Noll. Evangelical Versus Liturgical? Defying a Dichotomy. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2014. 149 Pages. Paper. $17.00. www.eerdmans.com (L)


Ludwig, David J. and Mary R. Jacob. Christian Concepts for Care: Understanding and Helping People with Mental Health Issues. St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 304 Pages. Paper. $24.99. (Currently on sale for $21.99.) https://www.cph.org/p-24736-christian-concepts-for-care.aspx (LHPN)


Music, David W. and Paul Westermeyer. Church Music in the United States 1760-1901. St. Louis: MorningStar Music Publishers, 2014. Published in partnership with the Center for Church Music, Concordia University Chicago. 311 Pages. Paper. $24.95. 1-800-647-2117. http://www.morningstarmusic.com/ (LHP)


False dichotomies. What do I mean? Gospel Outreach OR Human Care, Faithful OR Mission-minded, Gospel-centered OR Liturgical, Spiritual OR Psychological. Such distinctions sinfully and unnecessarily divide the body of Christ.

Law and Gospel are to be properly distinguished. The LCMS historically has cared about doctrine so that a pure Biblical message could be shared in our mission to make disciples of all nations by baptizing and teaching what Jesus gave us to cherish. Gospel outreach takes precedence, yet we care about human needs. The so-called social gospel is really no gospel at all. 

These books address important issues in the church today by overcoming false dichotomies (or failures to note true differences). 


+/ My experience with the publisher of Ross's Evangelical Versus Liturgical? has been mixed. I appreciate many of their Luther titles and reference books, yet have a trouble seeing eye-to-eye with any title related to worship. I commend the author and Eerdmans for noting that pitting "Evangelical" against "Liturgical" perpetuates a false dichotomy, one that continues to harm the church. The "Lutheran" teachings, practices, and teachers noted by this author are all at odds with much of the worship theology and practice of the LCMS. I felt much like an outsider looking in, though I appreciate the overall idea of the book. American Evangelicals and "free churches" have much to learn from one another. They are the intended primary audience of this text. More needs to be said on this topic to the benefit of all congregations, pastors, musicians, and Christians. 




+ Too many Christians see mental illness as either a spiritual issue OR a psychological issue. "Christian Concepts for Care serves as a resource to equip the Body of Christ to better understand and offer spiritual care for those with mental health issues-without feeling like they need a psychology degree" (back cover). People with mental illness need understanding, compassion, and BOTH spiritual and psychological help. They may need therapy and well-monitored medication. They especially need the Gospel. They need Word and Sacrament ministry. The authors will help caring family members, pastors, and Christians care for those in their midst who need the First Article gifts of God in addition to the means of grace. I personally appreciated the encouragement and practical advice of this book in giving pastoral care to a person in need earlier this fall. Recommended!





These essays by David W. Music and Paul Westermeyer discuss church music in the United States from the middle of the eighteenth century to the end of the nineteenth. Not a comprehensive history, they can be read singly or as a whole. Their insights into where we have been give perspective on where we may be called to go.
(Publisher's web site)
+ Hymnals contain much more than hymns. Rather than correcting a false dichotomy, this volume shows a proper division and contrast between kinds of Christian song that are usually misunderstood and misrepresented as being all alike, all "hymns." This delightful essay collection by Westermeyer and Music highlight the variety of Christian song used in the United States: elaborate psalmody, folk hymnody, camp meeting songs, Roman Catholic sacred music, anthems and solos, revival song, Sunday School hymns, Gospel song, African-American congregational song, Hymns Ancient and Mordern, spirituals of several varieties, the music of confessional revival, and Lutheran Chorales. Essay 11, "Out of the Mainstream," is alone worth the price of the book. Here you will hear of Mormons, Moravians, and the Missouri  Synod Lutherans. Highly Recommended!



More information about each of these titles
may be found on each respective publisher's website. 

The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

Hymnody Review: Getty Music


Getty, Keith and Kristyn Getty. The Greengrass Session: Six Hymns from the Old World and the New Limited Edition EP. Nashville: Getty Music Label LLC, 2014. Audio CD. $10.00.  http://www.gettymusic.com/ http://www.gettymusic.com/greengrass (H)


The latest album from Keith and Kristyn Getty is an EP, an Extended Play recording too long to be a "single," yet too short (29:05) to be considered a full studio album (what we used to call an "LP"). It is well worth your time to listen to these seven tracks.




The GreenGrass Session
Keith & Kristyn Getty (2014)


Brand new, limited edition EP from Keith and Kristyn Getty featuring


  • My Worth Is Not in What I Own – the new hymn written by Keith and Kristyn and Graham Kendrick
  • Good Shepherd of My Soul – a warm and moving a’capella rendition of one of Keith and Kristyn’s newer songs
  • Come Ye Sinners – a musical journey from Ireland to Appalachia envelopes the traditional hymn
  • Plus 3 more brand new recordings!

  • BONUS!  Lobby Jam – a toe-tappin’, foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’ instrumental featuring the Getty’s band of Irish and bluegrass virtuosos

    This limited edition EP is only available from Getty Music. 
    Album Listings


    1. Come Ye Sinners (with Musical Priest)
    2. My Worth Is Not in What I Own
    3. Lift High the Name of Jesus (with The Legend of Saints and Snakes)
    4. Good Shepherd of My Soul
    5. Arkansas Traveler (with All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name)
    6. O for a Closer Walk with God
    7. Lobby Jam
    (Getty Music website)
    The "Lobby Jam" is just plain fun, not unlike local bluegrass sessions here in the Sheridan and Buffalo, WY area.

    We first heard "Good Shepherd of My Soul" (track 4) earlier in the year (http://lhpqbr.blogspot.com/2014/03/more-gettymusic.html). I shared it with my congregation as a solo back in May. The a capella version here is beautiful, memorable, winsome, and imitable. 

    Note the name of Irish and American musical influences on this recording. Track 5 indicates that "Arkansas Traveler" is used as incidental session music for interludes between stanzas on "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name." Perhaps, to keep consistent with the format of tracks one and three it should have been written as "5. All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name (with Arkansas Traveler)". I can appreciate the benefit of the musical affect and like the track, yet I was reminded that I probably sang "I'm bringing home a baby bumble bee" to the Arkansas Traveler tune too many times at summer camp.



    "O for a Closer Walk with God" deserves a little more study. The William Cowper hymn with that title was adapted by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend. The original:

    O for a closer walk with God,
    A calm and heavenly frame,
    A light to shine upon the road
    That leads me to the Lamb!

    Where is the blessedness I knew,
    When first I saw the Lord?
    Where is the soul refreshing view
    Of Jesus and His Word?

    What peaceful hours I once enjoyed!
    How sweet their memory still!
    But they have left an aching void
    The world can never fill.

    Return, O holy Dove, return,
    Sweet messenger of rest!
    I hate the sins that made Thee mourn
    And drove Thee from my breast.

    The dearest idol I have known,
    Whate’er that idol be
    Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
    And worship only Thee.

    So shall my walk be close with God,
    Calm and serene my frame;
    So purer light shall mark the road
    That leads me to the Lamb.

    The adaptation on this recording (italics mine): 
    O for a closer walk with God
    A calm and heavenly frame
    A light to shine upon the road
    Leading to the Lamb
    Where is the blessedness I knew
    When once I saw the Lord
    Where is the soul refreshing view
    Living in His Word

    O fire of God come burn in me
    Renew a holy passion
    Til Christ my deepest longing be
    My never-failing fountain
    My never-failing fountain


    A light to be my guide
    The Father's presence at my side
    In Your will my rest I find
    O for a closer walk with God - leading to the Lamb

    So shall my walk be close with God
    With all the hopes made new
    So purer light shall mark the road
    Leading to the Lamb

    William Cowper (1731-1800); Adaptation, new words & music by Keith Getty and Stuart Townend; © 2009 Thankyou Music (PRS) (adm. worldwide at CapitolCMGPublishing.com excl. Europe which is adm. by intergritymusic.com)

    I can appreciate when older hymns are renewed with the addition of a refrain and when unclear archaic language is clarified and refeshed for comprehension's sake. The more significant revision here is the additional five lines that are used as a repeated refrain. The reference to the Holy Spirit in the original is as "dove," while here it is "fire of God." That is less clear textually, yet likely more clear idiomatically to American Evangelicals and pentecostals. Would I use the hymn as it stands? Possibly. Maybe not. I'd want to run it by my brother pastors in our circuit conference (winkel) before I would. This text is stronger than another Getty/Townend collaboration, "Holy Spirit," which raises concerns in its first phrase, "Holy Spirit, living Breath of God, breathe new life into my willing soul," something that could be made more like Psalm 51 by changing "willing" to "sinful." "O For a Closer Walk" appropriately connects the work of the Holy Spirit within us to God's Word. In His Word, God has promised to work through means, Word and Sacrament.


    "Come Ye Sinners," while recognizable to some Lutherans, does not appear in Lutheran Service Book. It has appeared in a few American Lutheran hymnals, but revivalistic connotations in particular have made another text preferable in our church body:
    "Jesus Sinners Doth Receive"
    by Erdmann Neumeister, 1671-1756

    1. Jesus sinners doth receive;
    Oh, may all this saying ponder
    Who in sin's delusions live
    And from God and heaven wander!
    Here is hope for all who grieve--
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    2. We deserve but grief and shame,
    Yet His words, rich grace revealing,
    Pardon, peace, and life proclaim.
    Here their ills have perfect healing
    Who with humble hearts believe--
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    3. Sheep that from the fold did stray
    No true shepherd e'er forsaketh:
    Weary souls that lost their way
    Christ, the Shepherd, gently taketh
    In His arms that they may live--
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    4. Come, ye sinners, one and all,
    Come, accept His invitation;
    Come, obey His gracious call,
    Come and take His free salvation!
    Firmly in these words believe:
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    5. I, a sinner, come to Thee
    With a penitent confession;
    Savior, mercy show to me
    Grant for all my sins remission.
    Let these words my soul relieve:
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    6. Oh, how blest it is to know;
    Were as scarlet my transgression,
    It shall be as white as snow
    By Thy blood and bitter Passion:
    For these words I now believe:
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    7. Now my conscience is at peace,
    From the Law I stand acquitted;
    Christ hath purchased my release
    And my every sin remitted.
    Naught remains my soul to grieve,--
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    8. Jesus sinners doth receive.
    Also I have been forgiven;
    And when I this earth must leave,
    I shall find an open heaven.
    Dying, still to Him I cleave--
    Jesus sinners doth receive.

    Hymn #324
    The Lutheran Hymnal
    Text: Luke 15:2
    Author: Erdmann Neumeister, 1718
    Translated by: composite
    Titled: "Jesus nimmt die Suender an"
    Tune: "Meinen Jesum lass' ich nicht"
    1st Published in: Neuverfertigtes Gesangbuch
    Town: Darmstadt, 1699
    (http://www.lutheran-hymnal.com/lyrics/tlh324.htm)
    "Come Ye Sinners" and "Lift High the Name of Jesus" are paired with reels, folk music closely tied to Irish dance. "Musical Priest" is rather well known, even in America. Like "Lift High," "The Legend of Saints and Snakes" is a new musical composition, the title being a reference to the missionary activity of St. Patrick in Ireland. "Lift High the Name of Jesus" was also on the Getty's Live at the Gospel Coalition album. This take is fresh and lively.

    Finally, "My Worth Is Not in What I Own,"  a collaboration with Graham Kendrick of "Shine, Jesus, Shine" fame. I've never been a fan of the latter, but I am of the former, this new hymn, because we continually rejoice in the cross of Christ. There are allusions to Isaiah 40, Galatians 6:14, and John 4:14. I look forward to sharing this one with my congregation soon, perhaps at Thanksgiving Eve Divine Service.

    My Worth Is Not in What I Own
    My worth is not in what I own
    Not in the strength of flesh and bone
    But in the costly wounds of love
    At the cross

    My worth is not in skill or name
    In win or lose, in pride or shame
    But in the blood of Christ that flowed
    At the cross

    Refrain:
    I rejoice in my Redeemer
    Greatest Treasure,
    Wellspring of my soul
    I will trust in Him, no other.
    My soul is satisfied in Him alone.

    As summer flowers we fade and die
    Fame, youth and beauty hurry by
    But life eternal calls to us
    At the cross

    I will not boast in wealth or might
    Or human wisdom's fleeting light
    But I will boast in knowing Christ
    At the cross

    Refrain

    Two wonders here that I confess
    My worth and my unworthiness
    My value fixed - my ransom paid
    At the cross

    Refrain

    By Keith Getty, Kristyn Getty, and Graham Kendrick
    © 2014 Getty Music Publishing and Make Way Music (admin by MusicServices.org)

     www.gettymusic.com/hymns.aspx?id=269

    The YouTube video was filmed at Mussenden Temple in Northern Ireland.


    I commend the Gettys and their friends for a recording that successfully meets their goal of a GreenGrass session, "so named for the combination of Irish and bluegrass songs and musicians that come 'round" (album back cover).



    The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.

    Tuesday, November 11, 2014

    Received for Review

    and

    Flint, Eric and Charles E. Gannon. 1636: Commander Cantrell in the West Indies (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2014. 624 Pages. Kindle e-book. $9.99. http://www.baen.com/  http://smile.amazon.com/1636-Commander-Cantrell-West-Indies-ebook/dp/B00KDGKZEW/  (N) 

    Flint, Eric, Paula Goodlett, and Gorg Huff. 1636: The Viennese Waltz (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2014. 427 Pages. Kindle e-book. $9.99. http://www.baen.com/  http://smile.amazon.com/1636-Viennese-Waltz-Ring-Fire-ebook/dp/B00OKE7PRI/  (N)

    (The books above are available in digital and paper formats.)

    Goodlett, Paula and Gorg Huff. 1636: The Barbie Consortium (Ring of Fire book 18). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2013. Kindle e-book. $4.99. http://www.baen.com/  http://smile.amazon.com/1636-Barbie-Consortium-Ring-Fire-ebook/dp/B00PB7JTHC/ (N) 


    Grantville Gazette, Volumes 51-56. Moore, OK: 1632, Inc., 2014. Digital downloadable file (various formats). Subscription rates vary. http://www.grantvillegazette.com/ (N)


    Pulpit Review: Guides to the Scriptures


    Engelbrecht, Edward A., General Editor. Lutheran Bible Companion (Set). St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. Cloth. 1014 + 992 Pages. List Price: $69.98. Hardback Sale Price: $49.99. www.cph.org/p-24345-lutheran-bible-companion-set.aspx (LHP)

    Lessing, R. Reed and Andrew E. Steinmann. Prepare the Way of the Lord: An Introduction to the Old Testament. St. Louis: Concordia, 2014. 559 Pages. Cloth. $49.99. https://www.cph.org/p-22941-prepare-the-way-of-the-lord-an-introduction-to-the-old-testament.aspx (P)




    We may well be living in the golden age of Concordia Publishing House. The abundance of faithful resources is such a joy that both the bookshelves and budgets of pastors are being stretched!


     

    Among my go-to Bible references in English have been The Word Becoming Flesh, Introduction to the Intertestamental Period, The Word of the Lord Grows, Bible Difficulties and Seeming Contradictions, and The Concordia Bible Dictionary. The new two-volume Lutheran Bible Companion draws upon these and the fruits of The Lutheran Study Bible project to give us an affordable, concise, and encyclopedic companion to the Holy Scriptures.




    Free Bible Study Offer
    Now through November 30, download a FREE Bible study for the Lutheran Bible Companion!

    Overview

    Tap into the treasures of God’s Word with the Lutheran Bible Companion, the first-ever comprehensive guide to the Bible featuring commentary that reflects Lutheran theology.

    In this two-volume set, readers find new understanding for personal meditation or preaching in the expansive timeline of the Old and New Testament, as well as the Intertestamental Era. Fascinating insights on the Bible’s themes provide additional depth:

    • Theological topics and literary features found in each book of the Bible
    • Significant events, people, and places found in detailed outlines and maps
    • Biblical reflections from Martin Luther and Johann Gerhard
    • Color photography and art illustrating stories, daily life, and landscapes (600+)
    • Hardback. 2 volumes. 1,128 and 1,016 pages.
    Learn More >
    (Publisher's website)
    One picture (above) cannot do justice to such a visually-rich pair of volumes as this. Please find a set to see for yourself, or at least watch the Vimeo video below and click on the "Learn More" link above.


    Lutheran Bible Companion from Concordia Publishing House (CPH) on Vimeo.

    Each volume is organized in typical Bible canon order. For the purposes of our review, let's zoom in on Lamenations as an example of the features common to the Lutheran Bible Companion.
    • Book title, introduction, and facing-page photograph (780-781)
    • Historical and Cultural Setting (781, 752ff.)
    • Overview (782: Author, Date, Places, People, Law Themes, Gospel Themes, Memory Verses, Timeline)
    • Composition details (782ff: Author, Date of Composition, Purpose/Recipients, Literary Features, Outline, Characters, Narrative Development or Plot, Text and Translations)
    • Doctrinal Content (786: Summary Commentary, Specific Law Themes, Specific Gospel Themes, Specific Doctrines, Application)
    • Canonicity (790)
    • Lutheran Theologians on Lamentations (791ff: Luther, Gerhard)
    • Further Study (793: Lay/Bible Class Resources, Church Worker Resources, Academic Resources)
    This is rich content. A summary doesn't do it justice. The photographs, maps, and charts add interest to substantive information. Pages are magazine shiny, yet more durable for generations of use.

    The introductory material at the beginning of the Old Testament volume addresses and refutes modern objections to tradition Bible dates, authorship, and content. Readers will learn How to Read and Study the Holy Bible and gain appreciation for miracles and the Land and Time of the Bible. Specific introductions to sections of the Bible are also provided.

    The Intertestamental Period and books of the Apocrypha are addressed in the first 150 pages of the New Testament volume. Christ is the focus and center of both volumes. I was very pleased by the section "Archaeology and the Bible" (2:797ff) and the newly-revised Bible Dictionary and Index (833ff).

    My congregational President asked for a set for his birthday. You should have seen the joy on his face when he got them!


    This is an ideal gift to your family for Christmas. Get it on sale while you still can!





    Pastors, don't miss out on this new Introduction to the Old Testament.




    Overview
    “Twenty-first century scholarship offers a myriad of ways to read [these texts]. This book helps beginning students make sense of it all.” — from the Preface

    This new isagogics textbook examines and explores each book of the Old Testament, preparing students of the Bible to read Israel’s texts with understanding and insight. It helps answer questions such as “What is helpful and what is detrimental to evangelical faith?” and “How do conservative scholars respond to critical views of the Old Testament?” The book interacts with scholars in a respectful way while providing evangelical assessments that foster historical and theological confidence in the Old Testament.

    Book features:
    • Maps, diagrams, and tables
    • Covers every book of the Old Testament
    • Sections on authorship; literary features; historical, archaeological, and textual issues; theological emphases; and key biblical themes of sin and grace for each Book of the Old Testament

    About the Authors
    Dr. R. Reed Lessing was on the faculty of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, for fourteen years and now serves as Senior Pastor at St. Michael Lutheran Church in Fort Wayne, IN.

    Dr. Andrew E. Steinmann is Distinguished Professor of Theology and Hebrew at Concordia University Chicago.

    (Publisher's website)

    This is no dry textbook. This is an ideal resourcebook for Pastors to answer the kind of difficult questions about Bible books, especially the books of the Old Testament that are sometimes mysterious to all of us. 

    Learn anew or be reminded of:
    • Canon in various Christian traditions (4ff)
    • Challenges to Mosaic authorship (20ff, 31ff)
    • Offerings (102-103) and degrees of holiness (103ff)
    • Christ in Leviticus (110ff)
    • The Tel Dan David inscription (199ff)
    • Greek Additions to Esther (272) and Daniel (440)
    • The design of the Psalter (301ff)
    • A language/theme comparison of Jeremiah and Lamentations (408ff)
    • A handy comparison within Jonah (440)
    • Why do the righteous suffer (490)?

    This is the kind of Lutheran resource I would have preferred to read during my summer seminary isogogics classes! This is the kind of text I've been asking CPH for as long as QBR has been in existence!



     
    Concordia, as the premier publisher of resources "that are faithful to the Scriptures and the Lutheran Confessions," is ideally suited to publish textbooks for our own seminaries, colleges, and schools in addition to our churches and homes.




    The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR


    Pulpit Review: Beyond the Basics in Biblical Languages


    Nordling, John G. Religion and Resistance in Early Judaism: Greek Readings in 1 Maccabees and Josephus. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 364 Pages. Paper. $34.99. https://www.cph.org/p-18273-religion-and-resistance-in-early-judaism-greek-readings-in-1-maccabees-and-josephus.aspx (P)

    Steinmann, Andrew E. Intermediate Biblical Hebrew: A Reference Grammar with Charts and Exercises. St. Louis: Concordia, 2009. 242 Pages. Paper. $49.99. https://www.cph.org/p-12937-intermediate-biblical-hebrew.aspx (P)

    Wilch, John R. Concordia Hebrew Reader: Ruth. St. Louis: Concordia, 2010. 178 Pages. Paper. $29.99. https://www.cph.org/p-17772-concordia-hebrew-reader-ruth.aspx (P)




    Students and potential students of Biblical Greek and Hebrew have a wide variety of "101" Introductory resources. Not all are created equal. I am very thankful for those produced by Concordia Publishing House. 

    The challenge for a true scholar of the languages is to make the transition from neophyte to competence. Here are three titles that would be helpful toward that end.



    Religion and Resistance in Early Judaism prepares intermediate and advanced students of Greek to read and translate selections from 1 Maccabees and Josephus, with an emphasis on building knowledge of grammar, syntax, and vocabulary. The book also describes the religious and cultural clash between the classical world and early Judaism. It includes:
    • Historical context from Alexander the Great to Josephus
    • Greek text of 1 Maccabees 1:1-4:61
    • Selections of Greek from Josephus's life, Jewish War, and Antiquities of the Jews
    • Notes on the grammar and syntax of each selection of Greek text, including numerous cross references to Greek and biblical literature
    • A comprehensive glossary of Greek terms and a select bibliography
    • Foreword written by Dr. Paul Maier
    John G. Nordling, PhD, is an associate professor at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, IN. He has 16 years of experience teaching students Greek and Latin literature, classical civilization, and exegetical theology.
    Click Here to see all Language Tools books.
    (Publisher's website)

    Professor Nordling is an ideal author/editor of a volume like this. We became acquainted because of our common love of the classics and classical Lutheran education. German-speaking Lutherans were much more familiar with Josephus and the Apocrypha than their modern English-speaking counterparts. 

    Readers will note similarities to the approach of both Concordia Commentary and the recent CPH Lutheran edition of the Apocrypha, yet with the kind of detail and rigor not required by the typical lay reader of either of those resources. 

    It is books like this one that make we think that I should have been a Classics Major (with a music minor) back at the University.


    I enjoyed by introductory Hebrew class more than my introductory Greek class. Perhaps I was more used to the routine of seminary life by then. Maybe it was the heat of fall in St. Louis versus the more pleasant days of fall.





    Intermediate Biblical Hebrew bridges the learner from the first year of Hebrew into thoughtful reading and deeper study of the biblical text.
    Features Include:
    • Twenty-two diagrams that make challenging concepts clear
    • Practice exercises for each chapter
    • Glosses for Hebrew words appearing fewer than one hundred time in the Old Testament
    • Definitions of linguistic and grammatical terms
    • A select, annotated bibliography
    • Topical and scriptural indexes


    Helpful Downloads
     
    Answers to Exercises in Intermediate Biblical Hebrew
    (Publisher's website)
    One of the greatest contributions of Andrew Steinmann's Intermediate Biblical Hebrew is the time he takes to guide the student-in-transition to note and distinguish common words and words that are confusingly similar to the seminarian new to Hebrew. That would have been incredibly helpful and encouraging as part of my first-year Spring Biblical Readings Class!

    No answers are provided in the text to the practice exercises of the text. Do note the downloadable answer key hidden (for the sake of honest struggle with the exercises) in plain sight on the CPH website! See the link to the page above.

    Particularly indispensable are the book's Glossary and Annotated Bibliography. 


    Last but not least, Ruth:




    Concordia Hebrew Reader: Ruth
    Includes
    • The Hebrew text from Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia
    • A literal translation that indicates Hebrew line breaks
    • References to more than 20 advance reference tools 
    • Nearly 100 exegetical studies
    • A full works cited list
    A challenge far greater than mastering the rudiments of Biblical Hebrew is developing and nurturing an understanding of how Hebrew works. The Concordia Hebrew Reader on Ruth explains how the Hebrew of the Book of Ruth works.
    Dr. John R. Wilch is professor emeritus at Concordia Lutheran Theological Seminary, St. Catharines, Ontario, where he taught exegetical theology (1980-1999). He studied under Karl Heinrich Rengstorf in Munster, Germany.
    (Publisher's website)
    The author/editor of this book is also the author of the Concordia Commentary on Ruth. This is a similar, yet distinctly focused kind of exegetical help. The website description is a good summary of what to expect. Not a mere grammar for Ruth, expect history and theology as you prepare to preach and teach this remarkable Christological book.


    Going forward, I could imagine an even more affordable way for CPH to develop and publish more volumes in a Concordia Hebrew Reader series: digital books via Logos 6 software. Scholars and students could pair their own digital BHS text on a tablet or computer with additional digital CHRs.


    Pricing appears to be the only weakness toward greater use and appreciation of titles like these in the LCMS and greater church. There is nothing like having a book in your hands, paperback or cloth with dust cover. From an economic standpoint, it must be worth it for the purchaser and the publisher. A lower price-point for the customer would usually mean a loss to the publisher because some projects subsidize others. That is not uncommon, but must be carefully considered. I believe a digital version of future resources like these would keep production costs down enough to make it viable for CPH to produce more ebooks at more palatable prices for the pastor in the parish.


    The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR


    Quick Summaries for November 2014: Fiction


    Quick Summaries are pithy paragraph-long reviews
    of releases that cross our QBR desk. 

    These are reviews for when you don't have all day 
    to decide whether a resource is worth
    your time, money, storage space, or trouble.


     

    Carrico, David. 1635: Music and Murder (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2013. 518 Pages. Kindle e-book. $4.99. http://www.baen.com/  http://www.amazon.com/1635-Music-Murder-Ring-Fire-ebook/dp/B00F96EOT8/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1383968779&sr=1-2  (N)


    Flint, Eric, David Carrico. 1636: The Devil's Opera (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2013. 528 Pages. Kindle e-book. $8.59. (Hardcover available for $18.48.) http://www.baen.com/  http://www.amazon.com/1636-Devils-Opera-Ring-Fire-ebook/dp/B00F8N7WD2/ref=la_B001ITXFV8_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1383969128&sr=1-2  (N)

    Cooper, Iver P.  1636: Seas of Fortune (Ring of Fire). Riverdale, NY: Baen, 2013. 485 Pages. Kindle e-book. $8.59. http://www.baen.com/  http://www.amazon.com/1636-Seas-Fortune-Ring-Fire-ebook/dp/B00HCLRJDG/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1403888188&sr=1-1&keywords=1636+seas+of+fortune (N) (The books above are available in digital and paper formats.)

    Grantville Gazette, Volumes 42-50. Moore, OK: 1632, Inc., 2012-13. Digital downloadable file (various formats). Subscription rates vary. http://www.grantvillegazette.com/ (N)

    Stoneguard, Harry. The Chaplain's Cat: A Small CATechism. Amazon CreateSpace, 2013. Paper. $6.99. (Kindle version available for $0.99).  http://smile.amazon.com/Chaplains-Cat-Small-CATechism/dp/1493700898 (Q)

    Sabel, Thomas. Legends of Luternia: the Prince Decides. Little Elm, TX: eLectio Publishing, 2013. 217 Pages. Paper. $13.99. (ebook for $4.99.) www.eLectioPublishing.com  http://thosabel.blogspot.com (LHPN)

    Keating, Ray. The River: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel. Manorville, NY: Keating Reports, 2014. 264 Pages. Paper. $13.99. www.pastorstephengrant.com  http://smile.amazon.com/The-River-Pastor-Stephen-Grant/dp/1499514174/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8 (LHPN)


    Fiction takes this reviewer longer to read, ponder, and review. This is one of the most intriguing groups of books I've read for review in a long time. We begin strong and finish strong.

    ebooks are a convenient way to provide review copies these days. The downside is that they could be forgotten on a tablet with lots of storage space. To prevent that, I put the names of ebooks on a piece of cardboard and add them to my "to read" or "to review" stacks. 


    ++ We begin in the 1632-verse, an alternate time line where a West Virginia coal mine town ended up in Germany during the 30-years war. 1635: Music and Murder shows collaboration between the uptime Americans and the "downtimers" and changes in the timeline and the world after three years. I love this timeline because we see Lutherans and Lutheranism in abundance. And music! Author Carrico fleshes out both the revolution in police work and music in two novellas. I was immediately enthralled with the music novella. He won me over gradually with the murder novella. Consider reading both as a prequel/prelude to Carrico's collaboration with main series author Eric Flint. Highly recommended!


    + 1636: The Devil's Opera does not assume but benefits from a reader's knowledge of the previous volume. Here, Flint and Carrico flesh out the world of post-Ring of Fire Magdeburg, the new capitol of the United States of Europe under Emperor Gustavus Adolphus. Ravaged by war and rebuilt by uptime Americans and their German and Swedish allies, a foundation is laid for a fascinating future. Music and Murder continue and converge in a mystery-action adventure reminiscent of both Dorothy Sayers and Tom Clancy.  Recommended.




    + Building on a cast of characters introduced in the Grantville Gazette, Iver Cooper's 1636: Seas of Fortune is also a pair of novellas that show how different the eventual world of the 1632-verse will become. Swedish colonies in South America? Sure. Name a town after the Emperor, if you don't mind! Southern California settled by exiled Japanese Christians? Cool. Let's mess with the fictionalized history of James Clavell's Shogun! As a student of Japanese history at university and an Asian Studies minor, I really resonated with the novella Rising Sun. As a Christian and Lutheran Pastor, Stretching Out shows honor to the real-history Swedish King and Lutheran, Gustavus Adolphus. I can't wait to hear more about how these new colonies develop! Recommended.



    + If news is the rough draft of history, Grantville Gazette, edited by our friend Paula Goodlett, is the rought draft of alternate history in the world Eric Flint created by altering world history as of 1632. This is a testing ground, a research facility, and more than mere fan fiction. Download the latest issues (released regularly six times per year). That reminds me, time to renew my online subscription! Recommended.






    -/ The Chaplain's Cat: A Small CATechism by Harry Stoneguard has an interesting premise: a story told by "a Parsonage kitten turned Therapy Cat." This volume arrived as an unsolicited gift from an ELCA pastor in New Jersey. I have reason to believe that "Harry Stoneguard" is his pseudonym. Similitude, the cat, may be playing itself. The book appears to be written to be discussed in a group setting, but falls short when some of the chapter topics are unclear compared to the topics as brought up by the cat (chapters 4-6). Bishops and the ordination of women are assumed. I appreciate the creativity of the author. This reader assumes a more robust Lutheran confession of faith, even in fiction as retold by a cat. Consider the very affordable kindle version if you are interested in this title as a Lutheran cat lover. Neutral on this one. 

    +/ Legends of Luternia: The Prince Decides is a stronger book than the one previously under consideration. The Rev. Thomas Sabel, poet and author, delves into fantasy in his first novel. As both C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien discovered, Christian allegorial fantasy fiction is a challenging genre. Think about writing a new "the Kingdom of God is like" parable and then building enough of a world to fill a 217-page book. I commend the author for his pastoral care approach to the genre. Given our royal Prophet, Priest, and King, the genre is full of possibilities for Christians. I see much potential should Sabel continue with more volumes in a Luternia series. I've wondered how a Lutheran author could weave Jesus as Prophet and Priest into such a fictional world. Recommended.



    + Ray Keating's SEAL/CIA agent turned LCMS Pastor, Stephen Grant, returns in The River. The danger Pastor Grant faces builds as much as his own backstory and that of his wife and her family. In the fourth installment of the Grant series he wrestles with life and death, specifically justice and revenge under the Fifth Commandment. I read this novel in preparation for a Lutheran Men's retreat here in the Wyoming District as a presenter discussing firearms, self defense,the Second Amendment and the Fifth Commandment, specifically the difference between "Thou shalt not kill" and "You shall not murder." The latter is the most accurate translation of the original Hebrew of Exodus 20. Imagine facing such decisions alongside Stephen Grant. Language is realistic given the situation's Grant's father-in-law lets his daughter and son-in-law get put in. Temptations abound. Ours is a messy, sinful world. Forgiveness and redemption in Christ is real. I pray my world will not be as dangerous and action-packed as Pr. Grant's adventures in Las Vegas. Enjoy the Christian-worldview-fiction of Ray Keating. Recommended!
     
    More information about each of these titles
    may be found on each respective publisher's website. 



    The Rev. Paul J Cain is Pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church, Sheridan, Wyoming, Headmaster of Martin Luther Grammar School, Yellowstone Circuit Visitor (LCMS Wyoming District), a permanent member of the Board of Directors of The Consortium for Classical and Lutheran Education, Wyoming District Worship Chairman, and Editor of QBR.