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Posts Tagged ‘Christian academic books’

Well-Researched Pastor Ignites Passion for Christian Books

I first met Jon Rising when we moved to our present home about 32 years ago. A native of Port Huron, Michigan, Jon has lived in Cobourg, Ontario, in Florida, and several years ago moved to Vancouver in order to complete a Masters degree in Theology at Regent College. Over the years, Jon has proven to be an excellent resource person on Pentecostal history (particularly the Latter Rain Movement) and Bible reference material. He’s been sharing a number of personal reflections on Facebook, and I thought that this one, with his permission, deserved to be here as well.

by Jon Rising

I started buying and reading books – lots of books – roughly 50 years ago. Few things have brought me as much pleasure. And I remember exactly how it got started.

It was prompted by the ministry of Pastor James Beall… [T]hough he was well-read, it isn’t that he advocated rushing to the bookstore and buying armfuls of books.

His ministry stimulated an interest in reading because I could tell his sermon preparation was more extensive than other preachers. He had information in his sermons that they didn’t.

In Pentecostalism, there are plenty of preachers who work themselves into a lather, but if you listen closely, that kind of preaching is trite and thin on insight.

If we make an analogy to eating, it’s like getting served nothing but boiled potatoes at every meal. Nourishing to a degree, but lackluster and with nothing to make you look forward to the next meal.

Pastor Beall, just like the great evangelical preaching mentor Haddon Robinson, knew how to set out a gourmet meal. The basics were always present, but it was also the presentation and spices that brought delight.

Biblical background information comprised a lot of his ‘extras.’ And I knew instinctively where he got that stuff – books. I mean, you can pray all night, but the Lord is not going to download the historical setting of ancient Middle Eastern people into your mind. The same with the literary devices they used or nuances of the languages they spoke. You get those extras – and much more – from books.

Since you and I didn’t live 2,000 years ago, we need the expertise of those who have carefully researched those times so that we may have a better sense of what the Biblical messages meant when they were first written.

It must have been that I said things to my mother and my pastor, Belle Barber, that alerted them to the fact that Jonnie was starting to think about things other than baseball cards and batting averages. I don’t really recall.

But, what I do recall is that on my birthday both of them bought me an uncommon gift for a 15-year-old (this happened without them consulting each other).

From my mother I received the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary and from Pastor Barber I received Adam Clarke’s one-volume commentary on the Bible. Those were good foundational resources for a teenager to begin serious study of the Bible. And I couldn’t have been happier.

That’s the sweet spot of gift giving, isn’t it?! When you give someone something that is both unexpected and yet the perfect item for them.

And so it began. After buying myself a Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, additional acquisitions were determined as the result of thumbing through books in Bible bookstores and taking home what seemed to provide answers to questions that arose in my Biblical studies.

But, a novice book buyer might not know whether he’s taking home the writing of a fair-minded scholar or that of a polemicist with a theological ax to grind. Such a buyer might also have a difficult time discerning expert scholarship from shoddy scholarship so poor it does not deserve the label, scholarship.

In time, books by Joseph Allison, Cyril Barber, and David Bauer would become like trusted, constant companions. All three of them had written books recommending worthwhile Biblical study resources. That trio are not (and were not even then) the final word on what are worthwhile and trustworthy resources, but their books were a place to a start (especially so I would not go broke drilling, as it were, dry holes – i.e., buying books that just collected dust on the shelf).

Two big breakthroughs in the building of my library occurred when I acquired books by Edward Goodrick and Gordon Fee (I was an adult by this time).

Goodrick’s book, enticingly named, Do It Yourself in Hebrew and Greek: A Guide to Biblical Language, did not make me an expert in Hebrew or Greek, but it did, in addition to the rudimentary language information, point me in the direction of F. F. Bruce, who was back then the foremost evangelical Biblical scholar.

Goodrick said he bought everything Bruce wrote. I began to do the same and was never disappointed. My Biblical studies and library now had some traction…

This is part of a series which continues with Jon reflecting on the of influence Gordon Fee.

Bill Reimer on the Regent College Bookstore

If he shall not lose his reward who gives a cup of cold water to his thirsty neighbor, what will not be the reward of those who by putting good books into the hands of those neighbours, open to them the fountains of eternal life? – Thomas a Kempis

Earlier this year, at a celebration of Bill Reimer’s 65th birthday, Loren Wilkinson noted,

“For over a quarter of a century, Bill has done his best to make available, to a steadily growing public, books that explore every facet of the Christian belief that the incarnation of the Creator God in Jesus is an essential guide to living in and understanding our increasingly complex world.”

A former Regent College student sent us this article which appeared in the Regent College Bookstore Blog. I’ve shortened it slightly on the one hand, but on the other, I’ve reiterated the quotation which appears above since it deserves to be posted somewhere in all our stores. (Under the circumstances, we had to steal the picture as well!)

Click the title below to read in its entirety:

Theology’s Last (book)Stand?

For 29 years I have worked in the back corner at my desk on the floor of the Regent College Bookstore, surrounded by volumes of biblical studies and commentaries. We have 272 linear feet devoted to biblical studies and 120 feet to theology. Additional footage is devoted to a broad range of Christian studies: poetry, literature, history, biography and of course a good selection of bibles; even 40 feet for CS Lewis and friends. If you have traveled this continent or been abroad then you know that there are literally only a handful of theological bookstores that remain…

How has bookselling changed people often ask me? I once wrote a blog about this … Since then the world of bookselling has changed forever. In some ways books have become more accessible in remote places. But much has been lost.

Here are a few of few of my observations from back in 2005:

  • Regent Bookstore remains one of the few stores in the world, on a public university campus, that sells a wide selection of books in the area of Christian Studies.
  • Regent Bookstore is non-profit and is owned and operated by Regent College. All proceeds go towards the operation of Regent College programs.
  • Regent Bookstore is an employment centre for Regent students and their spouses.
  • Regent Bookstore sponsors lectures by authors and speakers.

All of these observations still apply to Regent Bookstore in 2018. We remain on the UBC campus and have regular customers who are agnostics or atheists but they tend to like this place even though as a religious institution there is an invisible barrier around it in the eyes of many…

The store began in the early 1970s. The 1960s and 1970s saw a renaissance of Christian book publishing.

It is not surprising that Regent College sprang up during this time. Klaus Bockmuehl, late professor of theology at Regent, writing out of this period commented:

The printed word remains also today an ideal tool of Christian proclamation facing a powerful spirit of secularism and Godlessness: it may well again prove a sling of David for a giant doomed to destruction.

Maybe this sounds a bit grandiose today but those were the days when there was a battle for “truth.” Klaus ended his essay on books by retrieving the words of Thomas a Kempis, written 700 years before:

If he shall not lose his reward who gives a cup of cold water to his thirsty neighbor, what will not be the reward of those who by putting good books into the hands of those neighbours, open to them the fountains of eternal life?

This is a collective challenge to the Church. Many bookstores have survived by “crowd sourcing”. Thus far Regent Bookstore has not needed a fundraising campaign in order to continue on. You enable us to exist by buying books for your edification. Consider buying a book, reading it, and then passing it on to a friend. Finally, if you live afield then consider supporting us by purchasing downloads of Regent lectures at regentaudio.com. **

 


*Quotation source: Celebrating Bill Reimer, Regent website.
**Now through November 30th the site is offering free audio in honour of Eugene Peterson.

A Book Every Store Should Purchase for Its Own Use

This week we were truly blessed when a former customer, now living on the other side of the continent, gifted us with a copy of Best Bible Books: New Testament Resources by John Glynn with contributions from 4 other writers; published just weeks ago by Kregel Academic.

On a book-by-book basis, it lists the books it consider best resources and the books which are better resources and the ones which are simply good, as well as, at the end of each Biblical book’s section recommending additional books on other subjects which arise out of those texts. (The good/better/best ranking is done as each title arises alphabetically; one needs to read through the listings carefully.)

More than just a recommended list, it offers an informed rundown of the approach the author takes in each; followed by the format and usability.

It’s important to state that the books do not all receive glowing recommendations; there are some tough criticisms here which means no pastor, professor or student will end up with a resource which differed from their expectations.

Many of us in Christian retail often find ourselves out of our depth when dealing with customers seeking scholarly and academic resources. We want to be an authoritative source of this type of information, but the customer is usually better informed than we are.

Again, to be clear, this is a resource that each staff member should spend at least ten minutes gaining overall familiarity with, and then it should be kept behind the counter. When a customer asks for a good book on Galatians, you turn to that section and pass the book to the customer.

Many of the recommended books are from mainstream sources, though retailers will encounter some esoteric publishers. Page counts are given but not U.S. list prices. There are some expensive titles to be sure, and Canadian stores also need to consider short discounts when establishing a domestic price to offer the customer if there is no distributor here.

Publisher marketing:

There are thousands of excellent resources in the field of New Testament studies. But which tools are best for sermon preparation, topical study, research, or classroom study? In Best Bible Books, the authors review and recommend hundreds of books, saving pastors, students, and scholars time, effort, and money.

Glynn and Burer examine commentaries on every book of the New Testament, describing their approach, format, and usability; they then rank them on a scale of good, better, and best. Other chapters survey special studies for each New Testament book as well as books in related disciplines such as historical background, language resources, and hermeneutics. Also included are helpful chapters on building a must-have personal library, and identifying books that comprise the ultimate New Testament commentary collection. This is an indispensable resource for any serious student of the Bible.

Additional sections include recommended resources on general New Testament background, Jewish context, Jesus in the Gospels, and commentary series themselves.

To repeat, this is a book your store gives itself. Keep it handy. We’re hoping to use ours to answer many questions we could never answer previously.

Paperback | 336 pages | 9780825443985 | $27.99 US | $37.79 CDN (Parasource; phone order only; not on B2B)