Friday, March 02, 2018

Books read Mar 2018

1.  The Oxford Dictionary of Classical Myth and Religion (2003)

valuable and comprehensive reference work. But as someone who believes that the Bible is revelation not myth I depart from the liberal theology here expressed with regards to Christian myth and the non-historical writing, allegedly, in for example the article on Acts of the Apostles. Also the article on atheism does not reference what the Bible says on this.

2.Samuel Johnson's Dictionary: Selections from the 1755 Work That Defined the English Language by Jack Lynch (Editor)
Johnson's was not the first to compile an English dictionary.  I do not have the exact quote I have heard it said he worked alone in a much shorter time than it took a committee of  Frenchmen to produce their National Dictionary Johnson is the most quotable of men and his work a delight. Here one can find hidden gems, words little known or obsolete. Frigorfick anyone? I could enjoy tripudiation.

3. The Concise Oxford Chronology of English Literature by Michael Cox  (Editor)

Published 2004 the entries are chronological from Caxton's first printed work n 1474 year by year until three years before publication. There is also listing by author so this is a valuable reference work. Look up your year and fine other books by the same authors. Major events are listed each year too. What is missing is an index of all titles so you can find the author of any. But a search engine will find that out. One can be detective. Starting with the 1611 King James I was able to trace Bible versions back to Tyndale then reference all of Tyndale's works including the years he published his New Testaments. Then one can see who were contemporary authors. Fascinating.

4. History In Quotations: Reflecting 5000 Years Of World History by M.J. Cohen and John Major

Not that Major! Though he is quoted six times. Who said what and when. After a little from the ancients of the fourth millennium BC to 2003 then an assortment of topics for the future. Within each arranged time period quotations are arranged topical rather than all being strictly chronological. This is in fact helpful. Authors are indexed as is needed.

5.The New Encyclopedia of Christian Quotations by Robert Backhouse (Editor)

A veritable treasure store. Quotations arranged by topic. Sometimes far more than a brief quote. One has on Calvinism a whole sermon by Spurgeon. Te source index leaves something to be desired though. Authors are listed with the subjects where they are found quoted. Pages are not given and there may be inaccuracies. I could not find Churchill on predestination. But a great resource for preachers and enlightenment and edification for any Christian.

6. The Burning Time: The Story of the Smithfield Martyrs by Virginia Rounding  (Author)

An excellent account where the author tries at objectivity concerning the Protestant and Roman Catholics burned at Smithfield though occasionally her own sympathies show before being finally declared. She shows good understanding of the theological disputes of the time and who believed what. First we have the history of early martyrdoms in the Tudor period and explanation of the changing religious situation so why heresy changed under Tudor monarchs defending on the faith the ruler. What constitutes martyrdom is considered and why stoicism in the flames may or may not be a witness to the truth of the martyr's faith. Why heretics were punished is historically surveyed from Roman times. The Biblical justification for the death penalty and why the civil authorities were the agents of punishment are considered and there is a gruesome detailed description of what happens when a person is burned to death. Here we have more than martyrology but a detailed examination of the changing religious climate under Tudor monarchs. My own conclusion is that there were two kinds of people, the principled ones who did not bend but stuck to their convictions despite suffering. Admittedly some of these abjured. Then they may have been conscience smitten and recanted of their change. Some fled. Some refused the opportunity to escape. All these were convinced believers. Then there were those prepared to trim their sails to the prevailing monarchical wind. Some accepted Henry's rejection of papacy only to accept it under Mary and persecute those who were Reformed. Some of these pragmatists were strong persecutors under Mary having suffered themselves under Edward. The young king only burned two heretics, Anabaptists who were detested by both Catholics and Reformed. Those who died were prepared to listen conscience and Scripture rather than external authorities.
   I would have given five stars but for the conclusion by the author that it is belief in absolute truth which leads to persecution. She seems to end with a mystical Christian experience, a sort of postmodernism where there are absolutely no absolutes. None of those she has so well described would have agreed with her. Nor do I.
   The book concludes with a very helpful chronology which puts all the events described into context.

7. Harmony of the Gospels for Students of the Life of Christ by A.T. Robertson (Author)

My copy predates this Amazon edition. It has no date of printing but bears copyrights of 1922 and 1950. This is a most valuable tool for one to get a grasp on the chronology of the life of Christ. Preparing to teach on the seven words from the cross here I found an authoritative source to put everything in chronological order.It is in the KJV but that is no problem It is indexed so you may find any gospel passage in the harmony. A great tool. 

8. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations Hardcover – 1 Nov 1999by Elizabeth Knowles (Editor)

Standard reference work, my second copy after perusing an earlier edition many times. I might consider it a little weapon well known Christian authors but it compensates with many pages of quotes from The Bible and Book of Common Prayer.The Quran does not merit many entries. Special categories are a delight.

9.Brewer's Famous Quotations: 5000 Quotations and the Stories Behind Them by Nigel Rees  (Author)

A good collection though Diane Abbott is a surprising first choice. The alphabet has to be the only place she gains precedence, Aaron not being quoted. Adequate subject index.

10.Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker by A N Wilson  (Author)

I have never seen a book with so many negative reviews. But that is what you get if you put a cat among the Darwinist pigeons. Darwin was a great naturalist and a good family man. He was also a man who claimed originality falsely, a rich hypochondriac who could afford to indulge in quack cures like hydrotherapy. He had a loving Christian wife whose faith he rejected. This is the story of how a theory greeted with initial scepticism and much modified by its author became scientific orthodoxy which to question it is worse than heresy.  Wilson questions it. So do I. Too many people believe it because the alternative involves moral responsibility of the creature before the Creator. As St Paul wrote to the Romans, truth is held down in unrighteousness.

11. Promise and Deliverance: From Creation to the Conquest of Canaan v. 1 by S.G. DeGraaf  (Author)

The author wrote this book to train Sunday School teachers in how to understand and teach the Bible. he was concerned that they communicate Christ from all the scriptures, not mere morality.
It is an excellent introduction to and exposition of the Bible. It centres on a covenantal understanding of God's dealings with men through all history. On the Old Testament in particular I know of no more helpul book. I cannot recommend it too highly. I have read it devotionally several times.

12. Christ Crucified by K Schilder (Author)

Great reading for lent but starting on this the third in the series I had to research the concept of ex lex. Outlaw says the dictionary but the author seems to invest it with greater significance. A very remarkable depth of theological and spiritual insight. This is the best I have ever read on the death of Christ. Remarkable exegesis and application. I intend to read all three volumes now and blog his main insights. I think there is a misprint, Michael for messiah p.475.

13. How Would Jesus Vote?: Politics, the Bible, and Loving Your Neighbor by Darrell L Bock (Author)

I see I am the first to review this on I am not surprised for the title is inaccurate. It should be, ' How Would Jesus Vote if he was a modern American?' This is really a book for the USA only. You could take principles here and apply them elsewhere but I think there are much better sources of Christian political thought.
   I found the analysis theological and political superficial. The reformed concept of sphere sovereignty is not mentioned. I looked for the name Kuyper. There is not even an index to help. Surely omission of an index is a sin against serious readers of non-fiction? I do not see a clear discussion between the ethical principles of a civil power and that of the individual. There is no examination of the concept of a nation state. There are some good statements of the debate on some issues like pacifism, was, abortion. I cannot add sexuality to that as the author seems to have no grounds for questioning the moral right of legislatures to enact laws which defy those of God. For me the very use of the word marriage applied to homosexual; relations is a denial of truth as revealed in Scripture.
   So too American, too superficial. It has some limited value if you are American but the rest of the world can ignore this volume.

14. Reformation ABCs: The People, Places, and Things of the Reformation-from A to Z by Stephen J. Nichols (Author),‎ Ned Bustard (Illustrator),‎ R. C. Sproul(Foreword)

An excellent children's introduction to Reformed history and well illustrated.Adults will learn from it too. My grandchildren now can recite a Reformation alphabet. One strange entry is V for Vermigli. Who is that I ask. Surely Viret would have been more appropriate.

15. Labour and the Gulag: Russia and the Seduction of the British Left by Giles Udy

This is a truly shocking book. Socialism is shown to be communism lite or proto-communism. The British left welcomed the Russian revolution, admired and co-operated with the Soviets denying their persecution of all religions and their slave camps. They traded with the USSR to the detriment of British firms and workers. They worked with British capitalists who like them cosied up to the USSR for mutual advantage.Twice this was to bring down Labour governments before the war. They even forbade servicemen from praying for persecuted believers in Russia. 
   I was surprised to learn of the churches action to support Russian believers. Gough and Lord Brentford were heroes in the mould of Wilberforce but the Labour government paid no heed for did trades unions. Fellow travellers who admired the USSR included Attlee, Cripps, Henderson, Lansbury, Last, MacDonald, The Manchester Guardian, Parmoor, Ovey, Shaw, The TUC, The Daily Herald, the Webbs to name but a few. Harold Wilson probably deserved to be investigated for Soviet links.  Vocal against the USSR were Churchill, Muggeridge, Eden, Curzon,  and Orwell plus Archbishop Lang. This is a shocking and sad tale. It also give a salutary warning concerning Corbyn's party today. Entryism rules. The Marxists are coming back. Before you vote Labour, read this.

16. Scotland - Culture Smart! The Essential Guide to Customs & Culture by John Scotney  (Author)

Written for the American market and somewhat dated being pre-referenda, independence and EU, this is nevertheless a useful informative wee book. The section non history is concise and very helpful. Not so parts on religion. Presbyterianism is not rule by the members of the congregation but by a plurality and parity of elders. The Free Church did not recently rejoin the established Church of Scotland.Also Burns wrote plenty about religion, The Cotter's Saturday Night etc.


Another excellent resource for the grandchildren.Well illustrated. My only quibble is the evident American bias. Bradstreet and not Bunyan or Baxter. Absalom Jones is unknown in Uk but Mary Jones is a Welsh heroine.

18. Greenford, Northolt and Perivale Past by Frances Hounsell  (Author)

Having recently moved from Perivale to Greenford I wanted to find out about the history of my new area. This is the best of resources telling the story from Domesday to the recent history. Lots of fascinating photographs and maps and copies of the adverts for newly built local houses under £700 each in 1932 which I see is when our road was completed.

19. Top 10 Scotland (DK Eyewitness Travel Guide)by DK Travel (Author)

This seems tome to be a book largely aimed at American tourists. It does not give much detail of any area but I have noted a few things to see on our next holiday.

20. Best Drives Scotland (AA Essential Guides) by AA Publishing (Author)

I like what I read here. Brief but some good tips for my summer Highland holiday.

21. The Classic 1000 Slow Cooker Recipes - the ultimate slow cooker recipe book. by Sue Spitler  (Author)

Easy to use and tasty results.

22. The Farmhouse Kitchen by Mary Norwak (Author)

Ours is a 1979 edition and has been used since I gave it to my wife for Christmas 1987. Good wholesome English cooking.

23. Montrose by J. Buchan (Author)

A detailed biography of a Scottish hero. The political and religious background is well related. Montrose was a great general who despite initially being with the Covenanters came to be the king's man in Scotland. He was a man of more wisdom than the king he served so well and for whose lost cause he was to die so nobly.

24. Slow Boat Through England by Frederic Doerflinger (Author)

A helpful guide to starting on our waterways though somewhat dated. Living in London I looked at the local chapter. it says nothing about the need for a radio license on The Thames. I find the Regents Canal not as depressing as the author and BTW, it is Oldfield Lane in Greenford.


The reviews on Amazon seem to be about some other book. This is a wonderful record of the lost county of Middlesex, its history and life up to 1939. It has great historical interest for any resident of the area. What we have left of the country now but addresses and cricket?

26. The Myth of the Non-Christian: Engaging Atheists, Nominal Christians and the Spiritual But Not Religious by Luke Cawley  (Author)

A fine practical guide to apologetics to reach atheists, nominal Christians and the spiritual but not religious. This is no Van Tilian presuppositional approach but one of engagement by friendship, hospitality and civil conversation. Highly recommended for Christian winners to modern people. I should like to see more British statistics not so many from across the pond.

27.British National Formulary (BNF) 62 Paperback – 21 Sep 2011by Joint Formulary Committee (Editor)

This was the last but one BNF I used professionally before my retirement from pharmacy in 1962. It is the standard reference work for anyone with questions about their drugs.

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