Recent Books in Brief

Recent Books in Brief
The Bible Tells Me So…Why defending Scripture has made us unable to read it

by Peter Ennis (Hodder & Stoughton, €14.99)

This book, by an American academic and evangelical, is one which will interest a wide audience. Through many years of both teaching and preaching, he came to face a problem. The further he studies the Bible, the more he found himself confronted by questions that could neither be answered within the rigid framework of his religious instruction or accepted among the conservative evangelical community.

He speaks of the “intellectual games” that many use to “protect” the Bible. This will awake echoes in many memories: all these specious controversies over creationism, all those claims that God will make the devout especially rich –  “because the Bible tells me so…”

He writes in a style and manner that will be accessible to everyone from the least informed person to the engaged biblical scholar with a sceptical mind, he tries to remind people to understand how the texts of the Bible came into  existence,  how and why they were written, and to try and find what God is saying rather than what the writers and the interpreters are making him appear to say, and how the figure of Jesus  has been overloaded with attitudes that have little basis he what  he actually says in the Scriptures.

 

The Dark Interval: Letters for the Grieving Heart

by Rainer Maria Rilke (Bloomsbury,  £12.99)

The Bohemian-German poet Rilke – he was born in Prague in 1875 – has proved to be one of the most widely read German language lyric poets of the last century, attracting the interest and attention of readers around the world.

This little book is a collections of letters of condolences to 23 friends on their losses.

Though raised a Catholic, Rilke came to dislike “modern religion”. He saw religions as “providing their believers with consolations and embellishments of death instead of giving their soul the means to reconcile and communicate with it”.

There are so many books these days about loss and mourning, one might say that death had become an obsession rather than life. These pages will provide many, however, with ways to resolve the issues they feel.

The translator Ulrich Baer shares his own experiences of the reconciliation he found through these messages from a dead poet.

These pages of can be seen as one of literature’s gifts to humanity.

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