Tagged with michael f bird

Dewey Decimal Project: 226 BIR The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus

The Gospel of the LordThere is a tendency for writing about the Bible to fall into two disjoint camps: there are the literalists who take the naïve view that the text is to be read without concern for its original context or creation, who end up reducing Biblical studies to an absurdity since the literal reading is untenable, not just in reading the creation account, but in dealing with the frequent inconsistencies that have resulted from the texts having been compiled from a variety of traditions and intentions. On the other side of the coin, the textual critics will consider the origins and context of the Biblical texts, but seem to have forgotten that this is the foundational text of much Western religion. One pole of this can be found in the Jesus Seminar which denied the historicity of the eschatalogical in the Gospels and was skeptical of the miracles.

Bird takes a different tack here, looking to understand the Gospels in context, but at the same time never forgetting their religious significance. Bird supplements the historical-critical perspective of the Gospels that I’d encountered elsewhere with information from the early Church Fathers do help provide full understanding and context for how the canon was formed and why we ended up with the four Gospels that we have. Perhaps had I had a less eclectic education in matters theological, this would be familiar ground, but this served as an excellent introduction to being able to better understand how to approach the Gospels.

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2015 in reading

Continuing my goal of last year to diversify my reading, I’ve boosted the goals for reading women writers and non-white writers. My statistics improved in both categories, with women accounting for 51.4% of my reading (compared to 39.6% last year and a target of 50%) and non-white authors accounting for 14.8% of my writing (compared to 13.5% last year and a goal of 15%). I did find myself choosing my next book to boost my diversity numbers 37.5% of the time (compared to just 10.8% last time). Dead white men were responsible for 10.7% of my reading up from 9.9% last year and non-US authors were 41.9% of my reading up from 30.1% last year. The total number of books read was 88, down from 101 last year.

In other categories, 11.4% of my reading was in translation, 1.1% in Spanish, 1.45% were by authors I’ve met (finishing my MFA program pulled this number down quite a bit), 3.7% were re-reads and 76.9% were by authors new to me. Fiction was a smaller fraction of my reading this year at only 53.4% as was poetry down to just 3.9% from 5.9% last year.

With the statistics out of the way, my favorite reads of 2015 were (in alphabetical order by author):

Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster by Svetlana Alexievich 

Narratology by Mieke Bal 

Silence Once Begun by Jesse Ball 

The Gospel of the Lord: How the Early Church Wrote the Story of Jesus by Michael F. Bird 

Vows: The Story of a Priest, a Nun, and Their Son by Peter Manseau

Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons

The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami 

The Real Life of Sebastian Knight by Vladimir Nabokov 

Living with Saints by Mary O’Connell 

The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock 

Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine 

No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind by Daniel J. Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson

The Small Backs of Children by Lidia Yuknavitch 

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