I have a stack of books on my wishlist for Christmas. Because of the way Amazon works, I can see that many of them have been bought for me. Unfortunately I have a stack of books I had pencilled in before Christmas too, and thanks to Zero1, I have some more to think about too.
So I’m on a reading rush.
I’ve been thoroughly enjoying reading Dale Allison’s Constructing Jesus, a new historical Jesus work that attempts to take seriously recent psychological research on the memory. Its thesis, which I am very warm to, is that the way Historical Jesus work has been done to date (analysing individual statements of Jesus over multiple sources to track which are well enough attested to be likely original) is psychologically naive. Right at the start of the book Dale concludes that, if there is anything of Jesus at all in the writings of the early Jesus movement, it is in the broad brush strokes: Jesus was an exorcist, an apocalyptic preacher, a healer. The best thing about the book is that it makes explicit a kind of niggling dissatisfaction I had reading, say, Crossan’s Historical Jesus (though Crossan’s book is also a masterwork in its own terms).
I’m also reading Larry Hurtado‘s Lord Jesus Christ, an analysis of the development of Christology as a cultic phenomenon (i.e. how devotion to Jesus is practised in the earliest period of Christian history, as opposed to the development of the theology of Christ). This is currently more heavy going, and I’ve had several nights where I’ve fallen asleep without remembering much about what I’ve just read. But I’ve only just started this, so I’m sure I’ll get more into it when I begin to pick up his main thread (incidentally Dale Allison’s book is superb for that – he hits you with it in the introduction and keeps throttling the point for the 50% of the book I’ve read so far).
And today Don Cupitt’s Sea of Faith arrived, the book of the 1984 british TV series where he explores and puts forward his vision for a non-realism in Christianity. He takes the process of demythologizing through to its logical conclusion and determines that God is a wholly constructed human artefact. But concludes that it is no less worthy of building a religion around for that. I suspect I’m going to agree heavily with this book and be frustrated at his conclusions in the end. But I am willing to be surprised!
I’ve also got Don Quixote, and Heart of Darkness (yet again) on the go on my kindle, a monograph relating to my old PhD topic to catch up with, and I need to read some Borges for work (no, really).
What are you reading at the moment?
Edit 2010-12-15 – Just edited ATTR’s comment: by default wordpress puts ‘nofollow’ in your comment links. I’ll manually edit this out for any suggestions here, so feel free to give your recommendations some link love! I’ll have to fish comments with more than 3 links out of the moderation queue, however, so give that time.