As long ago as 1996, Jon Levenson wrote an important article, “The Universal Horizon of Biblical Particularism.” In that piece he reflected on the way in which the Hebrew Bible adjudicated the particularity of Israel and a reach beyond Israel to the nations.
In The Clash Within, Martha Nussbaum explored the capacity to entertain the other as key to a democratic society. Now she considers angry resistance to the other, bringing her usual erudite analysis and intense moral passion.
They Cried to the Lord: The Form and Theology of Biblical Prayer, by Patrick D. Miller (Fortress). Though billed as a study of biblical prayer, this is the most helpful and comprehensive study of the Psalms we have that moves from critical data to acute theological sensibility.
Lately there has been a surge of studies variously construed as focused on "religion and violence," "the Bible and violence" or "God and violence." Most of these studies are not very helpful, for they dismiss the shrill reality of violence in facile ways.
In the long struggle for freedom in South Africa, parts of the church played a major role, even as other parts colluded with the apartheid regime. Few actions in that struggle were more important than the Belhar Confession.
The interface of Jewish and Christian theology has always been vexing. Partly this is because of the intrinsically incommensurate realities of the two faiths. And partly it has been because of Christian interpreters' uncritical practice of supersessionism, which has been combined with political power that is used in controlling and abusive ways.
The mantra of the real estate business is "location, location, location." In this attention-meriting book, the mantra is "local, local, local." John McKnight (professor emeritus at Northwestern University) and Peter Block (partner at Designed Learning in Cincinnati) have both written previously about the nurture of local community.
When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, Leonard Bernstein was there to celebrate with Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. The great chorus did not voice the familiar "Freude, Freude" ("joy, joy") but instead sang "Freiheit, Freiheit" ("freedom, freedom"). That simple, direct, unambiguous moment, however, is not the norm for thinking about freedom.
There is some high irony in the fact that the United States has come to be commonly recognized as an empire (for good or ill) just as its imperial reach wanes in the face of the rise of China. This book offers, in a journalistic, gossipy style, a defining episode concerning the rise of the U.S.