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Book Corner February 2009

Across the Spectrum: Three Books, Many Perspectives

Reviewed by Dr. Susan K. Hedahl


Periodically a number of books come my way through the mail, as gifts and as ‘alerts’  from colleagues.  Below is a rich sample of three works on which I offer some comments.

(1)  The Gospel of Grace Tools For Building a Positive Understanding of the Bible
by Dr. Mark Wickstrom:  (Minneapolis:  Beaver’s Pond Press, 2008)

The author is currently Senior Pastor of Community Lutheran Church in  Las Vegas, Nevada. His work uses an architectural metaphor to build the house of biblical interpretation.  The work addresses a number of topics, doctrines, key texts which people have interpreted in radically different ways across the centuries.   Chapters address issues which bear on people’s choices of interpretive lenses:  cultural norms, personal opinions, the presence of unusual texts.  It is obvious the author has had significant experience in teaching the Bible and the reader may find the presentation of various views a way to approach some texts when preparing a sermon.

(2)  Love’s Pure Light:  Christmas Candlelight Sermons and Services
by Mark Wm. Radecke.  (Lima, Ohio:  CSS Publishing House, 2008)

This work brings together sermons from nine years of preaching done at Susquehanna University’s Christmas Candlelight Service, by their chaplain, the book’s author. There is much to recommend these sermons, particularly for pastors who are jaded by the pressure of sermonic preparation around Advent and Christmas time and are always wondering:  “How can I preach this Incarnation so the familiar will be heard anew?”  The reality of light, in its many manifestations, permeates the sermons.  Sample bulletins are found at the conclusion of the work.

(3)  Bible Atlas & Companion 
by David Barrett, Christopher D. Hudson, Todd Bolen. (Ohio: Barbour Publishing, 2008)

This work is a ‘glossy,’ containing many maps of various biblical places.  Some maps center on the land in terms of events:  “David Pursues the Amalekites,” (pp. 60, 61).  Other maps focus on a particular view of the land at certain time periods:  “The Ptolemaic and the Seleucid Empires (Early). “ (pp. 128, 129).

This is a visually beautiful work and covers areas and topics that a Bible reader would find useful.  The reader should be aware however, that the work in both words and maps exhibits a bias against Palestine.  “Since its foundation in the modern era, the small Jewish state has fought a series of wars against hostile Arab neighbors.”  (p. 8) The map opposite shows a West Bank in the color pink which does not at all match the United Nations maps showing Israel’s take-over of lands from the Palestinians.