Month: December 2014

books read in 2014

Last year, and the year before, in typical nerd fashion, I mentioned all of the books I read (from cover to cover). Since this is the third year mentioning this, I think I’ll make it an annual thing. And since I don’t have a shortage of books nor do I cease from searching for new ones, keeping it annual shouldn’t be a problem.

As before, all of these books were pleasure-reading. Last year’s list (2013) was a meager 13, which now seems rather appropriate, though then inadvertent. This year’s list is a skosh more full, mainly because I wanted to see how many I could do. Here the list, this time in order of reading/completion:

  • Lemony Snicket, The Grim Grotto
  • Lemony Snicket, The Penultimate Peril 
  • Lemony Snicket, The End
  • Douglas Adams, Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  • Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe
  • Alice Calaprice (ed.), Dear Professor Einstein
  • Tom Clancy, The Teeth of the Tiger
  • John Grisham, A Time to Kill
  • John Grisham, The Summons
  • Lynn Truss, Talk to the Hand: The Utter Bloody Rudeness of the World Today, or Six Good Reasons to Stay Home and Bolt the Door
  • John Grisham, The Broker
  • John Grisham, The Last Juror
  • Arthur Pink, The Doctrine of Election
  • Eric van Lustbader, The Bourne Legacy
  • Lewis Grizzard, When My Love Returns from the Ladies Room, Will I Be Too Old to Care?
  • Peter Kreeft, The Best Things In Life
  • Peter Kreeft, Between Heaven and Hell
  • Lucius Apuleius, The Golden Ass
  • Margaret Avery, Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Galatians, Hebrews
  • John Grisham, The Firm
  • Robert Ludlum, The Prometheus Deception 
  • Martin Hengel, The Pre-Christian Paul
  • Robert Ludlum, The Rhinemann Exchange
  • John Grisham, The Racketeer
  • Denny Flinn, How Not To Write a Screenplay
  • T.M. Campbell, The Dispensations. A Lecture Delivered Before the Theological Union of the Guelph Conference
  • Robert Ludlum, The Scorpio Illusion
  • David A. Black, Why Four Gospels?
  • James Patterson, Along Came a Spider
  • Bill Bryson, Bryson’s Dictionary of Troublesome Words: A Writer’s Guide to Getting it Right

Next year’s list won’t be as long (or ambitious) as this one, since I’m returning to technical/scholarly books as my primary reading. But I’ll drop in a few diverting-types along the way.

unconvincing

Lately I’ve been reading outside of my discipline, mainly to see what other areas I might like to explore further. For the past week that curious reading has been the Petrine epistles, and by extension, Jude’s epistle. In this reading, I’ve seen scholars run through the issues of authenticity, authorship, occasion, date, blah blah blah; particularly: how many letters did Peter really write (if he wrote any of them)?, was Jude really written by the brother of Jesus and James?; and with regard to 2 Peter: who borrowed from whom–was it Peter using Jude or Jude using Peter, or was there a common source independently used?, etc.

In trotting the usual responses to these kinds of questions, I’ve noticed (on a few occasions*) a rather odd argument employed in response to the issue of borrowing. Specifically, the I’ve seen argument is given in defense of the idea that 2 Peter used Jude as a source and not vice versa, and it goes something like this:

It doesn’t make sense to think Jude, a considerably shorter text, borrowed from the larger treatment of 2 Peter, taking only basic pieces and adding nothing to it. The better conclusion is that the writer of 2 Peter took the basic framework of Jude and fleshed it out.

Prima facie, sure, this would seem to make sense. However, on further reflection, two things make this type of argument unconvincing. First, it betrays a rather subjective analysis of the situation and how that situation could have played out. It almost reads as though it’s saying: “That approach doesn’t make sense because that’s not how we would do things.” And second, it seems to divert attention away from the presence of an underlying (and possibly unconscious) double-standard; or at the very least, an inconsistent parallel.

What do I mean? Simple: in the times that I’ve seen this type of argument, it is found in rather short commentaries on 2 Peter (or Jude)–ones that admittedly acknowledge indebtedness to larger, more detailed commentaries, and add very little to such works. In fact, almost routinely found in these shorter works are footnotes that say (I paraphrase slightly): for more in-depth discussion, check out the bigger commentaries. So my question is: why is it so unthinkable (or unacceptable) for Jude to borrow from 2 Peter (assuming he did) and add nothing to it, yet it is perfectly acceptable for smaller commentaries to borrow from (rely on) larger commentaries and add nothing to them?

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* My library is admittedly slim when it comes to the Petrine letters (and Jude), so I’m working with limited resources at the moment.