Cover Story

Book of the year

"Book of the year" Continued...

Issue: "2009 Books Issue," July 4, 2009

Similarly, if an unclean carcass (like that of a mouse, a gecko, or a chameleon) touches a garment, a bowl, or just about anything else, that object is unclean-but if the carcass falls into a spring or a cistern, the water is still clean. Why? "It is uncertain. Perhaps it is because water in them is naturally flowing and is continuously refreshed and renewed. It may also be an exception because water is in such short supply in Palestine." Or maybe something else: The Bible is not a smooth piece of toast but an English muffin, full of nooks and crannies.

Such mysteries, though, don't excuse us from following ethical standards such as Leviticus 19:17: "You shall not hate your brother in your heart, but you shall reason frankly with your neighbor, lest you incur sin because of him." An ESVSB note explains, "Scholars debate the relationship between reproof and incurring sin, but this probably has to do with a situation in which one who refuses to 'reason frankly with his neighbor,' helping him to see his sin, would share in the guilt of the neighbor's sin when it is committed."

And what's most important is the next verse: "You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord." It's not only in the New Testament that "neighbor" has a broad definition; The notes that accompany Leviticus 19:33-34 explain, "Since the Israelites had been strangers in Egypt and knew what it was like, they ought to treat the strangers living among them just like themselves."

The only Leviticus lines quoted as often as "Love your neighbor as yourself" are those in chapter 24 suggesting "fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth." The ESVSB points out that this is not "mutilation as the punishment for the offender; rather, the value of the injured member will be the imposed fine. This law, when properly applied, guides the judges in assessing damages and sets a limit on the thirst for revenge. Since this is a rule for judges to follow, it should not be invoked in ordinary daily relationships."

The ESVSB thus passes my test-and I haven't even mentioned other articles by Vern Poythress of Westminster Theological Seminary, Mark Dever of Capitol Hill Baptist Church, Robert Gagnon of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, Timothy Tennent of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and many others that add to its usefulness. The Bible is the book for all years; this study Bible is a particular winner in the Year of Our Lord 2009.

The top 40

Two years of hits in the book world

By Marvin Olasky

Here's a list (in alphabetical order by author) of 39 books that join with this year's winner to constitute a top 40, with publication dates from 2006 through 2008, that I've reviewed over the past two years.
Kenneth E. Bailey, Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes: Cultural Studies in the Gospels (InterVarsity, 2008)
Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony (Eerdmans, 2006)
Alain Besancon, A Century of Horrors: Communism, Nazism, and the Uniqueness of the Shoah (ISI, 2007)
Phillipp Blom, The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914 (Basic, 2008)
Arthur C. Brooks, Who Really Cares? The Surprising Truth About Compassionate Conservatism (Perseus, 2006)
John Carroll, The Wreck of Western Culture: Humanism Revisited (ISI, 2008)
Caroline Cox and John Marks, This Immoral Trade: Slavery in the 21st Century (Monarch, 2006)
Andy Crouch, Culture Making: Recovering our Creative Calling (InterVarsity, 2008)
Ross Douthat and Reihan Salam, Grand New Party: Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream (Doubleday, 2008)
Eric E. Ericson Jr. and R. Alexis Klimoff, The Soul and Barbed Wire: An Introduction to Solzhenitsyn (ISI, 2008)
Thomas Farr, World of Faith and Freedom: Why International Religious Liberty Is Vital to American National Security (Oxford University Press, 2008)
Robert George and Chris Tollefsen, Embryo: A Defense of Human Life (Doubleday, 2008)
Gary Haugen, Just Courage: God's Great Expedition for the Restless Christian (InterVarsity, 2008)
Arthur Herman, Gandhi & Churchill: The Epic Rivalry that Destroyed an Empire and Forged Our Age (Random House, 2008)
Michael Horton, Christless Christianity: The Alternative Gospel of the American Church (Baker, 2008)
Al Janssen and Brother Andrew, Secret Believers: What Happens When Muslims Believe in Christ (Revell, 2007)
Michael Jones, Leningrad: State of Siege (Basic, 2008)
John Kekes, The Art of Politics: The New Betrayal of America and How to Resist It (Encounter, 2008)
Timothy Keller, The Prodigal God: Recovering the Heart of the Christian Faith (Dutton, 2008)
Timothy Keller, The Reason for God: Belief in an Age of Skepticism (Dutton, 2008)
Alister McGrath, Christianity's Dangerous Idea: The Protestant Revolution (HarperOne, 2007)
Gerald McDermott, God's Rivals: Why Has God Allowed Different Religions? (InterVarsity, 2007)
Steven Mosher, Population Control: Real Costs, Illusory Benefits (Transaction, 2008)
R. Albert Mohler Jr., Desire and Deceit: The Real Outcome of the New Sexual Tolerance (Multnomah, 2008)
Charles Murray, Real Education: Four Simple Truths for Bringing America's Schools Back to Reality (Crown Forum, 2008)
Patrick Nachtigall, Faith in the Future: Christianity's Interface with Globalization (Warner, 2008)
Michael O'Brien, Island of the World (Ignatius, 2007)
Tom Oden, How Africa Shaped the Christian Mind (InterVarsity, 2008)
Meic Pearse, The Gods of War: Is Religion the Primary Cause of Violent Conflict? (InterVarsity, 2007)
Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Baker, 2008)
Herman Selderhuis, John Calvin: A Pilgrim's Life (InterVarsity, 2009)
Amity Shlaes, The Forgotten Man: A New History of the Great Depression (HarperCollins, 2007)
Sun Shuyun, The Long March: The True History of Communist China's Founding Myth (Doubleday, 2006)
Harry Stout, Upon the Altar of the Nation: A Moral History of the Civil War (Viking, 2006)
Richard Swinburne, Was Jesus God? (Oxford University Press, 2008)
Mark Tabb, How Can a Good God Let Bad Things Happen? (NavPress, 2008)
Robert Webber, Who Gets to Narrate the World? Contending for the Christian Story in an Age of Rivals (InterVarsity, 2008)
David F. Wells, The Courage to Be Protestant (Eerdmans, 2008)
N.T. Wright, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (HarperOne, 2008)
For a list of top books reviewed from July 2000 through June 2007, see WORLD, June 30, 2007.

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.


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