I love a good excursus. I suppose that would not be the best feature to highlight about oneself on a dating website (and I’m happily married anyway, thank you), but it’s very true. I’m speaking of excursus as defined by Merriam-Webster as a “digression that contains further exposition of some point or topic.” I have to admit that I often get lost on the rabbit trails, but lost in a good way. Taking a moment off-point to explore a related subject stirs my imagination. Sometimes, the rabbit trail—or excursus if we want to sound more academically focused—can be more interesting than the main subject at hand.
Many of the better Bible commentaries include excursuses (that’s the correct way to make the plural; Merriam-Webster says so) within their treatments of biblical passages. But often when I’m reading them, I want the writer to go a bit further. Or I wonder what an editor cut to save space. What was left out?
That’s one way to think of the series we’ve released this week, Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church (7 volumes). Each of these volumes takes an extended look at some subject related to the Bible. Three of the titles have to do with certain kinds of content in Scripture, two explore specific biblical themes, and two more look at theological implications emerging from our view of the Bible as “sacred.” Here are the “digressions containing further exposition of points or topics” springing from discussions in the Interpretation Commentaries.
Like the Interpretation Commentary, these books are not aimed at an academic audience; however, they are written by academics who just so happen to be deeply engaged in churches or other types of faith communities. The subjects are weighty, but they are also practical. These volumes are designed to provide “additional resources for the interpretation of Scripture, but now dealing with features, themes, and issues significant for the whole rather than with individual books [of the Bible]” (Series Preface).
Although we posted brief descriptions of the Interpretation: Resources series on Tuesday, they bear repeating here, too—
[Click/tap the image to the left to see a larger view of Richard Lischer's Reading the Parables in Accordance Mobile (NRSV text sold separately)]
Biblical Prophecy: Perspectives for Christian Theology, Discipleship, and Ministry by Ellen F. Davis – A comprehensive interpretation of the prophetic role and word in the Christian scriptures. Davis carefully outlines five essential features of the prophetic role and then systematically examines seven representations of prophets and prophecies.
Canon and Creed by Robert W. Jenson – How does the church understand the relation between its Scripture and its creedal formulations? This book will enable contemporary interpreters and teachers, pastors, and laity to deal with the questions and tensions that are always present as the church seeks to hold canon and creed together.
Reading the Parables by Richard Lischer – Parables make up one-third of Jesus' speech in the New Testament. Lischer lays out four theories for reading parables: 1) parables obscure truth; 2) parables teach many truths; 3) parables teach one truth; and 4) parables undermine the truth. Ultimately, he concludes that biblical parables undermine dominant myths called "the truth" to shine light on the Truth that is Jesus, God's presence with us.
The Sacraments in Biblical Perspective by Ronald P. Byars – The church's development and use of sacraments has evolved in many ways from the days of the early church to the present. This sourcebook provides key theological texts that played a role in those movements. Tracing the history and theology of individual sacraments along with their liturgical context in the church's worship will be of great value to those studying the history of Christian worship and the development of the sacraments.
The Ten Commandments by Patrick D. Miller – In this volume, Patrick D. Miller studies the Ten Commandments as ancient document and as contemporary guide. With careful attention to each commandment in its original context, this book shows the reader the modern relevance of these basic principles, as well as how the ideas of each commandment influenced the New Testament. More than an intellectual exercise, The Ten Commandments applies the call of the commandments to modern-day issues.
Violence in Scripture by Jerome F. D. Creach – The Bible frequently depicts God as angry and violent, and sometimes depicts human violence as positive or even as commanded by God. This issue forms one of the most vexing problems in approaching Scripture and interpreting the Bible for preaching and teaching today. In this volume, Creach first examines the theological problems of violence and categorizes the types of violence that appear in scripture. He then wrestles with the most important biblical texts on violence to work through specific interpretational issues. This new volume in the Interpretation: Resources for Use of Scripture in the Church series will help preachers and pastors interpret those difficult texts, encouraging them to face violence in the Bible with honesty.
Money and Possessions by Walter Brueggemann – The Bible is rich with complex and diverse material on the topic of money and possessions. In this new work, highly regarded preacher and scholar Walter Brueggemann explores the recurring theme of money and possessions in the Old and New Testaments. He proposes six theses concerning money and possessions in the Bible, observing their contradictory nature to the conventional wisdom and practice of both the ancient world and today's society.
Click/tap the image to the right to see a larger view of Jerome F. D. Creach's Violence in Scripture in Accordance 12 on the Mac (NRSV text sold separately).
The Interpretation: Resources series are the perfect kinds of books to be read on a tablet or even on your phone if the screen is large enough. Take these titles with you wherever you go, and read them during the brief interludes of the day. Or better yet, steal yourself away for a few hours and escape down a rabbit trail of your own making!
Interpretation: Resources for the Use of Scripture in the Church (7 volumes)
List Price $260
Regular Price $199
In addition to the 7-volume set, each Interpretation: Resources volume is available individually.