Tuesday, January 01, 2019

Books read in January 2019

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

Abbott to Zola so new and old. A pleasure to browse and unusually in a collection of quotations, background and some commentary is given. The is an education in itself. I never knew the meaning of house in 'A house is not a home' until Rees enlightened me.

2.The Oxford Dictionary of Humorous Quotations (Oxford Paperback Reference) by Ned Sherrin (Editor)

Arranged by subject themes but also indexed by author and by subject. A delight to browse and bring a smile.

3. Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer  (Editor), Adrian Room  (Editor)

It is what the title says, a dictionary of many words and phrases. One might have thought such book would now be made redundant by internet search engines but this book shows why hard copy is much more satisfyingly user friendly.

4. Spurgeon at His Best by C. H. Spurgeon  (Author)

There is listing of quotes by subject and by biblical reference. Informative and helpful but the compiler , Tom Carter, seems to have left out some significant topics. We have drunkenness but not wine. No smoking or tobacco, not even humour for which CHS was famed.

5. Chambers Dictionary of Quotations by Dr Gary Jones (Author), Professor of Law Alison Jones (Editor), 2 more

Arranged by author and there is a subject index too. Helpful short biographies also.

6. The Lion Christian Quotation Collection by Unknown (Author)

Compiled by Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild the collection is arranged chronologically from first to fifteenth centuries all the way to post 1950. Then there are indices by author and subject. A delight to browse.

7. Chambers Biographical Dictionary by Una McGovern (Author)

From Alver Aalto to Gennady Zyuganov and everyone of note in-between. But in 1997 no Obama or Trump, May or Corbyn.

8WHO'S WHO IN BRITISH HISTORY by Juliet Gardiner (Editor)

From the ancient up as far as Tony Blair so this is comprehensive. including church history.

9. Great Cricket Quotes by David Hopps  (Author)

All quotes great and insignificant. The quotes are arranged topically in a way unique to the author. It you want to know who said what you must go to the index of sources. Ian Botham is the most prolific source. Surprisingly Grace has but one quote. 

10. Some Pastors and Teachers: Reflecting a Biblical Vision of What 

Every Minister Is Called to Be - Sinclair Ferguson

A collection of sermons and papers mainly published elsewhere. Worth 

the price for the first biographical chapteron Calvin, the best I have read.
 More biography, papers on Calvin and Puritans., the pastor and teaching 
the pastor and preaching. Sinclair is always top notch.

11.Cassell Dictionary of Humorous Quotes by Rees (Author)

Organised by subject. The index has subjects and authors too. Great for a browse and a smile.

12. Money: What's To Know? by Philip Evans (Author), Mark Prentice (Foreword)

Christian teaching on attitude to money and how God not mammon is to be served. It is not about the necessary skills in the use of money. t seems to me tube preaching to the converted.

13. Last Words of Saints & Sinners by H. LOCKYER (Author)

The author has to be a Scot with his reference to James VII and Elizabeth as being a cruel queen. Different aspects of death and dying are considered, The record the company of martyrs makes this book one suitable for adults only. Most moving is the chapter on Scottish Covenanters. The ending chapters are quite a sermon on death and how to die in victorious faith. There is a comprehensive index.

14. Ten Little-Known Reformers - John Brentnall

Some are better known than others. I was aware of Zwingli, Farel, Bullinger and Beza. But I knew next to nothing of Vermigli, Hamilton,Paleario, Zanchius, Jewel to Diodati. Jewel in particular has a most important rplace in English church history. Biographies of all and summaries of their teachings.

15. RIGHT HONOURABLE INSULTS: A Stirring Collection of Insults and Invective by Greg Knight

It is as the title says, insults and invective but also anecdotes and gossip. The author was a Conservative whip and seems to have a penchant for quoting himself. One does learn about the dirty work of whips. More late contemporary than historic.

16. The Brontes by Juliet Barker  (Author)

Patrick and Charlotte, the two who lived longest are the main subjects of this long biography. Very well done from the youth of Patrick in Ireland right up to the retirement of Charlotte's widow there. We are taken through Patrick's education and curacies before his life's work in Haworth. A happy marriage then the loss of wife and all his children, - all but Charlotte due to the scourge of tuberculosis. Bronte lives are unfolded in the context of contemporary history. Napoleonic wars, Luddites and chartists, catholic emancipation, church rates, industrial unrest, poor sanitation. Patrick was active in the political causes of the day as well as being hard working in parish ministry. he was evangelical but it seems Arminian in the parish where Calvinist Grimshaw was remembered. Yet Patrick did not seem averse to having a Puseyite curate. His bereavements , particularly his only son wrapped in scandal and alcohol, were hard to bear.
   There is more detail than most readers will cope with on the private writings of the four siblings who grew to adulthood. When under the pseudonym of Bell the three sisters are published their sex is concealed and remains so until after Emily and Anne die. Charlotte alone is recognised for who she really is, not the male Currer Bell who leapt to fame with Jane Eyre. Charlotte marries only to die within months of finding marital bliss. The latter chapters tell how thanks largely to Mrs Gaskin, many Bronte myths arose. A great biography. Enough to make you feel the cold wind blowing down from the moors above Howarth.

17. Phillips' Book of Great Thoughts, Funny Sayings: A Stupendous Collection of Quotes, Quips, Epigrams, Witticisms, and Humorous Comments : for Person Enjoyment and Ready Reference by Bob Phillips  (Author)

Enjoyable quotes to browse by subject but lacks an author index which is a serious omission.

18. A Damned Serious Business by Gerald Seymour  (Author)

I have read all of Seymour's thrillers and he remains my favourite. As ever a contemporary issue, this time Russian cyber crime against national security. Someone inside the Russian cell is able to smuggle in a bomb and blow up the whole group of cyber criminals. There is an unexpected twist with the bombing and one unusual aspect is that the perpetrators of the bombing - British intelligence are never discovered. The thrill is how will the bomb corner get out of Russia with an unexpected passenger. There are interesting characters down, an aged peasant couple on the border with Estonia and an unusually incorrupt Russian major. The title quote is from Wellington and the British man controlling the operation is obsessed with the Duke and Waterloo. I found this an irrelevant distraction. But the hero is a rather admirable mercenary.

19. The Phoney Victory: The World War II Illusion by Peter Hitchens  (Author)

I am a fan of Hitchens and until now have always enjoyed his writings. But this book so completely deflates the popular conception of WW2 that is leaves one uncomfortable. I do not dispute his conclusions but find then deeply uncomfortable. His theses are that we did not go to war to help Poland but to save our empire. Poland was deeply undemocratic and antiseptic. The establishment all the way up to the king was generally for appeasement.We had defaulted on out WW1 debt o the USA so coming to our aid was not popular. We ere made to pay very heavily for American help. There was no special relationship. Hitler never really planned to invade us but promoting the idea suited Churchill. It was folly to fight in North Africa and neglect Malaya. The bombing of Germany was immoral. as was the expulsion of ethnic Germans after the war. 
   p130 wrongly says the Battle of Britain was over by September 1939 instead of 1940. On p175 I cannot understand why he says the abolition of grammar schools rebuilt old class divisions.

20.Christ on Trial: by Schilder, Klaas; Zylstra, Henry (translator)

This is the second volume of Schilders Lenten trilogy. I have read volumes one and three already. I have used it for daily devotionals and made notes.

1. Christ being led to Annas.

The divine judge is now bound and appears before human judges. Christ chooses to surrender his freedom and submit to the judgement of men. First he goes before the spiritual judge for the civil authority, Rome, had delegated religious judging to the Jews. Annas was no longer high priest. It was his son in law Caiphas who could summon the Sanhedrin but that would take time. Annas had been high priest 6-15 AD appointed by Quirinius. Removed by Valetius 15-26 who replaced him with Ishmael, the Eleazar then Simon. Finally Ciaphas was appointed. Perhaps Annas lived with Ciaphas. He would be interested in the Nazarene and his unofficial examination , though with no official standing, could help Ciaphas. Annas was the father of a whole dynasty of high priests. he was a Sadducee and would have relished time unofficially with the man who caused such trouble stirring the people with his denunciation of priestly hypocrisy. Annas headed a contemporary dynasty of Aaronic priest, an office to pass away. Jesus, priest after the order of Melchizedek was to continue for ever as our great high priest.

2. Christ's apology before Annas

It is likely that both Annas and Ciaphas question Jesus in what is a preliminary hearing before the Sanhedrin assembles. First Annas asks about Jesus disciples before asking about his teaching. How many followers? How big a threat to established authority? Had he been secretly gathering other followers and having some esoteric secret teaching for them? Jesus replies that he taught openly in temple and synagogue so Annas knows there is no secret teaching no hidden band of followers. The high priests see Jesus as a threat to the established order and their places in it. They fear a revolutionary messiah. Jesus says to ask the witnesses as to his reaching. Nothing is hidden. There is no revolutionary plot. As per Is 27 Christ's revelation was sealed from the learned Annas and the ordinary people could not read the signs either. Ask the witnesses Jesus says. He has nothing to hide but neither people nor priests believe in him as true messiah.

3. Christ condemns the vicious circle. 

At this point due process would have been to call witnesses yet there is unwarranted violence from a servant who had no legal authority whatsoever. Jesus was hit for showing lack of respect in the view of the assailant. But this court refused to hear the evidence before it and call the witnesses to any subversion by Jesus. Jesus is assumed guilty before the trial. He is treated as outside the law - an outlaw. He who gave the law will not be tried according to law. Annas looked at the externals, Jesus teaching and disciples. he was blind as to who he was, the hidden messiah. The vicious circle is rejection of God's lawgiver and his law. Ecclesiastes, last OT book shows what life is like on this basis. Annas fails to see the special revelation about the messiah. He goes on what is under the sun, his own senses. As a result rational law degenerates into unwarranted violence.

4. The vicious circle condemns Christ

Jesus is now taken before the whole Sanhedrin. The assembly meets in the Palace of Caiaphas because  the gate of the hill of the temple was closed at night they could not meet in the official assembly hall. Witnesses said they heard a Jesus say he would destroy the temple and build another without hands in three days. He was speaking in a riddle solvable only to those enlightened by the Spirit. The riddle, like a parable, is revealed to those with faith in Christ and hidden from those who reject him.

5. Christ standing mute before the Sanhedrin.

Before the greatest religious tribunal the one who is the greatest prophet is silent. The Lamb of God before his shearers is dumb. Passive obedience of Christ . He could answer but would not for he was a willing sacrifice. If he had answered and explained then God's purpose might not be accomplished and the resurrection appear like a magic trick.

6. Christ standing mute before the Sanhedrin

Now his obedience does from passive to active as he answers the last great Sanhedrin session. It was no longer supreme after the temple veil was torn. Caiaphas wanted Jesus to testify on oath as to whether he is Messiah. False witnesses failed to incriminate him. Now he is to testify himself. The Jews used oaths abundantly in everyday speech hence Jesus prohibition of them in his sermon on the mount.

7. Christ vanquishing the vicious circle as the Son of Man

Christ now affirms he is the son of God, the Messiah for he identities himself with Dan 7, the Son of man, a human coming from heaven to establish his eternal kingdom after four great empires fall. He clearly states who he is, Messiah.

8. Christ sentenced to death by His people

Blasphemy was a capital crime among the Jews. Christ affirmed he was Messiah and the Sanhedrin would afterwards recognise it. The high priest was not to show the grief of mourning in the event of death but was to do so, rending his garments, in the case of blasphemy. Caiaphas rent his garments not his heart for he was glad to have an admission of blasphemy from Jesus.

9. Christ being mocked upon the prophetic mountain

After a dearth sentence passed a court should behave with dignity not mockery. Christ is outlaw again. He prophesied as to when a cock would crow - the height of his prophetic office. But here he is mocked by the Sanhedrin as a fortune teller blindfolded. He is made an outlaw. But when God mocks as in Ps 2 he does it with the force of his law.He knew who struck him. Ultimately it was God striking Him bearing our sin.

10. Christ being isolated a second time

Preachers often now move from Christ's suffering to Peter's denial. But our subject is the passion and here we again see Christ's isolation. Peter swears with an oath that he never knew Jesus. Christ is truly alone. But he is still the mediator and speaks to Peter with a look. See how providence controls even a cock's crowing.

11. Christ led back to the house of bondage

We do not know why the Sanhedrin reassembled but they had to send Jesus to the civil authority for the death sentence they wanted. Sending Jesus to Pilate, the Roman governor, was Israel going back to Egypt. They preferred slavery to Rome to going ahead with Messiah.

14.Christ confronted by the dead Judas

Judas regrets were expressed to men, not repentance before God. His rejection of Christ and death is the start of the same for physical Israel. Two men entered God's presence with Christ, Judas and the repentant their. One had had every opportunity to believe but did not. One in a brief encounter believed. Compare Judas betrayal of Christ to Ahitophel's of David. There is the similarity of betrayal by a close friend but Ahitophel had a grievance against David that was different to Judas' case. David had seduced bis granddaughter Bathsheba. Ahitophel betrayed a guilty king. Judas betrayed innocent blood. Both men rejected the grace of God in his appointed king.

15. Christ's blood accepting a memorial in Jerusalem. 

The first part of the Jew's inheritance in the land was Abraham buying a field to bury his wife. He was still a wandering Jew. Now that is what the Jews were to become again. They refused to accept blood money. Nothing tainted in the worship of God. They perpetuate the dividing wall of hostility to gentiles which Christ will soon break down.

16. Christ being thrust outside the sphere of Mosaic law

Christ outlawed from the ceremonial law. The Sanhedrin must not be defiled. Christ can be. Yet this is not in Moses' law but a scribal addition as to ceremonial uncleanness.

17. Christ being raised above the sphere of Mosaic law.

The Jews could not pass a capital verdict, only the Romans. Their method, crucifixion, would fulfil Jesus prophecy of being lifted up. If the charge was mere blasphemy it would not attract a Roman death only Jewish stoning. So for crucifixion the Jews accused Jesus of sedition. Christ was to be held up telling the manner of death, seen by all the world and exalted to glory.

18. Christ accused upon the royal mountain.

Having convicted on a charge of blasphemy they bring a different charge, being a king and telling people not to pay tax.

19. Christ's apology for his kingdom.

Christ says his kingship is based on knowing the truth not feeling the power of the state.

20. Christ being negated on the royal and prophetic mountain

Pilate asked what is truth. But here the question should have been what is justice.

21. Christ being silent before Pilate

Silence was submission to God's will for a defence would have diverted away from the cross.

23. Christ before Herod: Israel before Esau

Herod the Idumean was descended from Edom/Esau.As Jacob the elect one with the birthright appeared before Esau limping, so Christ the hidden elect king appears before Esau.

24. Christ being silent before Herod and mocked in the vale of martyrs.

Herod had killed John the baptist and feared Jesus was John returned ti haunt him. He had been troubled in his conscience and had sent a message that Jesus was in danger before. Now he saw no threat only a bound prisoner. He wanted a sign but for the third time Jesus was silent before his interrogators. The temptation for a miracle to save himself first came from Satan in the wilderness. Herod getting no answer resorts to mockery.

25. Christ Jesus completely outlawed.

Pilate had hoped Herod would deal with Jesus but he was non-committal. Now Pilate was in a dilemma as he had found no fault in Jesus. So to please the Jews he ordered him chastised. This would also lower his prestige among the people and once again he was outside the law. Never convicted under any law he was under God's curse.

26. Christ the outlaw and his forgotten chapter.

The Jews have denied his prophetic and kingly offices. Here they deny his priestly one preferring their own priests. Christ is the Joshua priest king prophesied by Zechariah. The custom of releasing a prisoner was only at the Passover feast and is not recorded in Jewish records. It is linked to freedom for slaves from Egypt and the one released became a hero.

27. Christ and Barrabas

A choice between an outlaw who was innocent and a convicted murderer. Barabbas name may have been Jesus/Joshua too. It was a choice between different ways of revolution, violence or suffering.

28. Christ is pleaded for and travestied

Pilate's wife, Claudia, is thought to have become a Christian later. She was concerned to save her husband trouble.

29. Christ's blood esteemed as less than that of Abel

The choice was Barabbas, line of Cain, murderer, and like of Abel innocently murdered.Pilate washing his hands was more in line with Mosaic law than Roman custom but of course he was no innocent. He had abdicated his responsibility to give a just verdict. The Jews esteemed Jeus' blood worthless. It would not cry for vengeance.

30. Christ's blood shed by human agency.

Before he shed his own blood in the agony of Gethsemane. Now cruel scourging rears the flesh exposing the bone.

31.Christ caricatured by the world

Mocked is if he is but a pretend king.

32. Christ condemned

Did Pilate make a final appeal so he could spare Jesus. It did not work. He was reminded of his place by the otherwise silent saviour.

21 More Gathered Gold: Treasury of Quotations for Christians by John Blanchard (Editor)

A good selection by subject. But no author index and nothing on sacraments, baptism, communion, wine.

22. The Lloyd Cole Concise Dictionary of Quotations by Lloyd Cole (Author)

Brief and indexed by subject only. No author index nor citations as to sources.

23. The Penguin Dictionary of Modern Humorous Quotations - Fred Metcalf

Modern in this case is 1986. Arranged by subject but also indexed by author. Abstinence to Yugoslavia.

24. The Guinness Chronicle of 20th-century Quotations by David Milsted (Author)

This is  The Guinness Chronicle of the 20th-century in Quotations. I have a copy with personal dedication from the author. Here one may follow the history of the past century in quotations, not merely the quotable but also slogans and catchphrases of the various decades. Indexed well by names, events and themes.


Listed and indexed by topic. Also well indexed as to authors and sources. There are illustrations for preachers as well as prose and poetry quotations.

26.Dan Bana: The memoirs of a Nigerian official by Stanhope White (Author)

I met the author in his retirement and heard many more stories from him. Twelve years in Nigeria showed me that the expatriates who loved the country and its peoples were loved by the locals if not by their superiors who were more aloof. This and other work by the author showed he was a first class colonial officer with real understanding of his environment. It has some gems of tales, especially the vultures sold to unsuspecting Americans as thanksgiving turkeys. 

27. Battle Sight Zero by Gerald Seymour  (Author)

I have read all of Seymour's thrillers and this is one of the best. I do not understand the reviewers who think it has a hard to follow plot or that the action is slow. I do wish though I had left a count of the extraordinary number of killings in this one story. I found it gripping and a very well portrayed account of what makes a respectable British born Muslim become a jihad. It is not far fetched to me but shows how an ordinary respectable law abiding Muslim family may have no idea that a family member has been radicalised. The motivation behind such extremism is entirely credible. 
   The story is not predictable. I thought it might end in the shedding of much innocent blood. But there is an unexpectedly happy outcome.

28.Heads You Win by Jeffrey Archer  (Author)

I have read nearly all of Archer's work. He is a great story teller but here he seems to have a fairy story. He has really strayed into fantasy not believable fiction. Family history as in the Clifton Chronicles but there the story is credible. It is here until the ending which is too far fetched. It is a gripping tale well told but for me too like a fairy story where wonderful things happen and work out so well - until the strange ending.

29.Bridges to Islam : A Christian Perspective on Folk Islam by Phil Parshall  (Author)

I first read Parshall's New Paths in Muslim Evangelsm while working as a missionary in a Muslim environment and all he said there proved a great helping was endorsed by Muslim coverts. This book is similarly most helpful. Though the author's field of service was in Asia and mine in Africa what he says here applies to Islamic countries all over the world. There is the orthodox then there are the Sufis and the syncretism of folk Islam. Mysticism and its historic place in Islam is considered then the beliefs of Sufis. Practises of folk Islam are surveyed and critiqued. The parallels between pirs and the prosperity gospel evangelists are sadly all too apparent. Bridges to mystical Islam, a contextualised Christian approach to miss is outlined and exemplified.

30. New Bible Dictionary by James Dixon Douglas (Editor)

Mine is the 1974 reprint of the first edition of 1962. After as a student one purchased the New Bible Commentary this was the next necessary reference book. It remains a useful one volume reference work.

31.. The New International Dictionary of the Christian Church by J. D. Douglas (Editor), Earle Edwin Cairns (Editor)

A comprehensive guide unless you want the contemporary. Billy Graham is there but not Francis Schaeffer or Lloyd-Jones.

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