Search our archive:

« Back to Issue 56

Short Notes

Reviewed by Paul Beasley-Murray.

Resilient pastors: the role of adversity in healing and growth (New Library of Pastoral Care, SPCK, London 2012; 143pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06383 3), by Justine Allan-Chapman, looks at how pastors can ‘bounce back’ after experiencing difficulties, whether in their own lives or in the lives of others. “Able to share in the joy and sorrow of others, good pastors have the wisdom and maturity to lay down burdens for times of rest and renewal. Good pastors are resilient. They continue to grow in wisdom and compassion through the struggles of their own lives and in the difficulties they encounter in their ministry”. Based upon a doctoral thesis, much space is given to the Desert Fathers and to the writings of Rowan Williams. I found this a disappointing book – and found it strange that in the section devoted to a pastoral theology, no reference is made to how the Apostle Paul coped with the challenges of ministry - 2 Corinthians 4.7-12, for instance, is all about resilience!  

First published in 1990, Interpreting the Parables (Apollos, Nottingham, 2nd edition  2012; 463pp; £19.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 576 0), by Craig Blomberg, a New Testament professor at Denver Seminary, has been substantially revised and updated – it is 30% longer than its predecessor, and only a minority of the original footnotes has stayed unrevised. This is a great textbook for students, and a great resource for preachers.

The Fortress Press have produced yet another volume in their series of Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works, namely Ecumenical, Academic and Pastoral Work: 1931-1932 (Minneapolis 2012; 612pp; £40.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 8006 9838 6. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh). These volumes are so detailed, that they are more for libraries and scholars, rather than for the average minister. A simpler introduction to Bonhoeffer for ministers is The Collected Sermons of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2012; 214pp; £19.99 hardback; ISBN 978 0 8006 9904 8. Also available through Alban Books of Edinburgh) edited and introduced by Isabel Best.

At last the Dictionary of Old Testament Prophets (IVP, Nottingham 2012; 965pp; £39.99 hardback; ISBN 978 1 84474 581 4), edited by Mark J Boda and J Gordon McGonville, has arrived, and so completes the series of seven major IVP Dictionaries on the Old and New Testament. These dictionaries rightly claim to be “a compendium of biblical scholarship”. They are a ‘must’ for every theological student, and are also a great resource for ministers. The price makes this tome an absolute bargain!

Published by Fortress Press in their Texts and Contexts series, Exodus and Deuteronomy (Minneapolis 2012; 351pp; £26.99; ISBN 978 0 8006 9894 2. Available through Alban Books of Edinburgh), edited by Athalya Brenner and Gal A Yee, consists of nineteen scholarly essays on a wide variety of issues, ranging from ‘the relevance of the Jewish Passover to Africa’ to ‘What would Moses do? On applying the test of a false prophet to the current climate crisis’! This is more a book for the university library than for a working minister.

Connecting like Jesus: Practices for Healing, Teaching, and Preaching (SPCK, London 2012; 232pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06915 6), by Tony Campolo, sociologist and preacher, and Mary Albert Darling, an associate professor of communication, is a practical guide to pastoral care and preaching, which will be of primary interest to men and women training for ministry.

Church Growth in Britain: 1980 to the Present (Ashgate, Farnham, Surrey 2012; 265pp; £17.99; ISBN 978 1 4094 2576 2), edited by David Goodhew of Cranmer Hall, Durham, is a fascinating collection of essays on church growth in the mainstream churches and the new churches, and a brief section on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. As the editor makes clear in his excellent introduction, while most people assume that Christianity in Britain is in decline, there has in fact been some substantial and sustained church growth in Britain. For instance, the number of new churches started since 1980 is substantially greater than the total number of RC churches in England and equivalent to one third of all Church of England churches. However, as a crude generalisation, church growth diminishes the further away you get from London, for while the Anglican diocese of London during the last 20 years has expanded by over 70%, many dioceses outside London are shrinking rapidly. I enjoyed the essay by Ian Randall on how English Baptists have on the whole held their own , which – as Goodhew observes – raises the uncomfortable questions for the other mainline churches as to why they declined! This collection of serious essays deserves widespread circulation.

Published in the scholarly ‘Hermeneia’ series, 2 Maccabees (Fortress Press, Minneapolis 2012; 362pp; £43.99; ISBN 978 0 8006 6050 5. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), by Robert Doran, will undoubtedly become a standard commentary on this key inter-testamental text. Beautifully produced, the book is a joy to handle.

A warm welcome to another contribution to the Pillar New Testament Commentary, namely Paul’s Letter to the Romans (Apollos, Nottingham 2012; 627pp; £32.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 582 1) by Colin Kruse. This is evangelical scholarship at its best. Although intended for the ‘serious reader’, undue technical detail is avoided; the exegesis and exposition are scholarly, and yet pastorally sensitive. This volume on Romans in particular is a great resource for preachers – buy it!

Setting up and Facilitating Bereavement Support Groups: A Practical Guide (Jessica Kingsley , London 2012; 176pp; £18.99; ISBN 978 1 84905 271 9), by Dodie Graves, looks at the various models of bereavement support groups in the hope that readers might feel free to experiment with different types of groups that match their own strengths with the needs of those who have been bereaved. It is an excellent practical guide.

Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi (Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, IVP, Nottingham 2012; 368pp; £11.99; ISBN 978 1 84474 584 5), by Andrew Hill of Wheaton College, Illinois, is yet another fine addition to this new commentary series, which aims to elucidate the text through accessible scholarship. A flavour of the approach adopted is found in the author’s preface: “Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi preached to audiences who were jaded by the lack of relevance of organizing religion to their daily economic and social life. They were self-absorbed, preoccupied with personal agendas, bent on comparing themselves with others, questioning the fairness of life, looking for an edge, pursuing material rather than spiritual things, morally ambivalent, apathetic with respect to civil responsibility, hypocritical with regard to religious practice, chasing much but grasping little – and the list goes on. Sound familiar?”      

Finding Meaning in the Experience of Dementia: the place of spiritual reminiscence work (Jessica Kingsley, London 2012; 302pp; £22.99; ISBN 978 1 84905 248 1), by Elizabeth MacKinlay and Corinne Trevitt, two Australian academics with a background in nursing, but who now teach in the Centre for Ageing and Pastoral Studies based in St Mark’s, a theological college, which is part of the Charles Sturt University in Canberra, is a challenging read for any minister. The reality is that most of us have no idea how to provide spiritual care to people with dementia. This practical (albeit academic) book offers a way in.

The World of 1 Corinthians: An exegetical source book of literary and visual backgrounds (Paternoster, Milton Keynes 2012; 169pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 1 84227 742 3), by the budding West Australian New Testament scholar Matthew Malcolm, is an ideal resource book for preachers and teachers – and all the more so in that it includes a companion web-site with full sized photos and diagrams for church and classroom use.   Although based on an academic dissertation, it is easy to read and helpfully opens up the background to this key Pauline letter.

Writing in Bereavement: A Creative Handbook (Jessica Kingsley, London 2012; 264pp; £19.99; ISBN 978 1 84905 212 2), by Jane Moss, looks at a wide range of bereavement writings, from journals to memorials, as individuals or as part of a writing group. This is a useful resource, although readers of Ministry Today will be surprised that there is no reference to Christian faith and death.

Jesus and Peter: Growing in Friendship with God (SPCK, London 2012; 111pp; £9.99; ISBN 978 0 28106 754 1) is a super little book by Michael Perham, Bishop of Gloucester, who looks at the relationship between Jesus and Peter. I love the quotation from Gregory of Nyssa with which Perham begins his book: “The one thing truly worthwhile is becoming God’s friend”. Ministers would find this a useful resource for preaching a series on Peter.

Analytical Lexicon of New Testament Greek:  Revised and Updated (Hendrickson, Peabody, Massachusetts, 2012; 449pp; £29.99 hardback; ISBN 978 1 59856 701 4. Available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh), edited by Maurice Robinson and Mark House, is a revision of an earlier lexicon by Wesley Perschbacher, which in turn goes back to George Wigram’s 1852 lexicon. Such lexicons are of particular value to students who are not totally competent in their knowledge of New Testament Greek.

The basic thesis of Falling Upward: a spirituality for the two halves of life (SPCK, London 2012; 198pp; £10.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06891 3), by Richard Rohr, a Franciscan priest of the New Mexico Province, is that we need to fail in order to succeed. “The supposed achievements of the first half of life have to fall apart and show themselves to be wanting in some way, or we will not move further”.  “The way up is the way down” – or, if you prefer, “the way down is the way up”. Or more provocatively, “We grow more spiritually by doing it wrong than by doing wrong”. Although I am happy to accept the overall thesis, I confess that I got irritated by a series of exegetical fallacies. For instance, when Jesus called people to repent, he did not call them to change their mind, but rather to change their direction. Or Luke’s description of the boy Jesus growing “in wisdom, age and grace” (Luke 2.52) is surely not apt for the second half of life!

The Words of Jesus: A Gospel of the Sayings of the Lord (SPCK, London 2012; 208pp; £12.99; ISBN 978 047 045367 4), by the American ‘religionist’ Phyllis Tickle is a compilation and arrangement of all the sayings of Jesus from the Gospels and the first chapter of Acts – the so-called ‘red letters’. The sayings are preceded by a lengthy introduction, where amongst many good things Tickle says, “We have become lost in a wilderness of scholarship that forgot to bring faith and humility along for the trek”; and “eventually I had to study the Sayings in prayer, which is the only way I know to pierce through the skin of sacred words and into their meaning or message for me”.

Multi-Voiced Church (Paternoster, Milton Keynes 2012; 149pp; £14.99; ISBN 978 1 84227 766 9), by Sian and Stuart Murray Williams, is an impassion plea for active participation in worship, learning, community and discipleship. There is a lot of good stuff here for small churches; but the reality is that ministers in larger churches will find it difficult to apply many of the practices advocated by the authors.   

SPCK (London 2012) has published three new editions in the For Everyone Bible Study Guides series, all 64pp in length and at £4.99. They are: James (ISBN 978 0 281 06859 3) by Tom Wright with Phyllis J Le Peau; 1 and 2 Peter (ISBN 978 0 281 06863 0) by Tom Wright with Dale and Sandy Larsen; and The Letters of John (ISBN 978 0 281 06861 6) by Tom Wright with Dale and Sandy Larsen. Prolific as ever, Tom Wright has also written Twelve Months of Sundays: Years A, B, C (SPCK, London 2012; 127pp; £16.99; ISBN 978 0 281 06581 3) – no doubt this will be appreciated by some, but frankly I found it a little disappointing; personally I would gain more ‘grist for the mill’ from reading a good commentary.

Two new additions to the Paul in Critical Contexts, which offer “cutting-edge re-examinations of Paul through the lenses of power, gender and ideology” and published by Fortress of Minneapolis are Onesimus Our Brother: Reading religion, race, and culture in Philemon (2012; 175pp; £25.99; ISBN 978 0 8006 6341 4), edited by Matthew V Johnson, James A Noll and Demetrius K Williams; and The Practice of Hope: Ideology and Intention in 1 Thessalonians (2012; 243pp; £32.99; ISBN  978 0 8006 9824 9) by Nestor O Miguez, are important contributions to the world of Pauline studies, but essentially they are  books for scholars rather than for working ministers. Both books are available in the UK through Alban Books of Edinburgh.

Recent booklets from Grove of Cambridge, all 28pp in length, and priced at £3.95, include:

Engaging Gen Y: Leading Well Across the Generations (Leadership 8, 2012; ISBN 978 1 85174 827 3), by James Lawrence, Leadership Principal, a practical guide for dealing with helping to develop leaders in the generation born 1980-2000. 

Using Film with Older People (Evangelism 98, 2012; ISBN 978 1 85174 829 7), by Stephen Kuhrt, Vicar of Christ Church, New Malden, includes specific examples of film clips and ideas how to engage with older non-churchgoers.

Dealing with Personal Criticism (Pastoral 130, 2012; ISBN 978 1 85174 832 7), by Ali Walton, Director of Pastoral Studies at Ridley Hall, who looks at Jesus’ response to criticism; the person being criticized; the criticizer; and criticism as an expression of spiritual warfare; before then offering some practical dos and don’ts in dealing with criticism. 

Holistic Health (Youth 27, 2012; ISBN 978 1 85174 833 4), by Helen Tomblin, an adviser for youth ministry in the Diocese of Birmingham, who argues that physical health and fitness have a part to play in honouring God and living to his praise and glory. 

The Cross-Shaped Leader: Paul’s Quest to Imitate Christ (Leadership 9, 2012; ISBN 978 1 85174 835 8), by Ian Rawley, Pastor of New Life Church, Cambridge, who responds to the cry for strong leadership in the church by stating that strong leaders need to be cross-shaped leaders, if they are to be worth following. This would be good book for ministers to read and discuss in their meetings.

Paul Beasley-Murray

Senior Minister of Central Baptist Church, Chelmsford<br>and Chair of Ministry Today

Ministry Today

You are reading Issue 56 of Ministry Today, published in November 2012.

Who Are We?

Ministry Today aims to provide a supportive resource for all in Christian leadership so that they may survive, grow, develop and become more effective in the ministry to which Christ has called them.

Around the Site

© Ministry Today 2022