This is a book I should not have liked. It’s a story of a lonely Catholic priest trapped in a bleak little parish in a nowhere Scottish town. Of course the priest is sexually repressed and socially inept, and of course his downfall is a chaste kiss plastered on a teenager under his care. It’s a hackneyed plot that’s no longer news.
Sometimes it’s the books we disagree with that make the biggest impact on us: we find ourselves locked in argument with the author or continually returning to the book because its flaws help us clarify our own thoughts. We asked several people to identify a book with which they have serious, respectful, ongoing arguments.
A wise friend of mine says, “The plural of anecdote is not data.” Robert Wuthnow would agree. He brings the eye of the sociologist to the life of the church and gives us insights that sometimes confirm but often confound our anecdotes.
Laments over the current state of academic biblical study abound, but Bockmuehl moves beyond his penetrating critique of the discipline to offer constructive proposals for reorienting New Testament study around the implied readers who are members of ecclesial communities and around the apostolic memory of Jesus.