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Robert Knetsch's Profile

Customer Reviews: 147
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Robert Knetsch "Wanna-be theologian" RSS Feed (Toronto, Ontario Canada)

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by Dan Simmons
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.51
184 used & new from $0.01

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious!, February 14, 2010
This review is from: Drood (Paperback)
There is no question that some readers will find Drood a chore, but only because Simmons has so masterfully replicated the diction and style of 19th century writing that in many ways the book could pass for a novel of that century - notwithstanding the winks toward what Wilkie's "future" (our present) would be like.

Drood reminds me of Susanna Clarke's "Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell," though to not imply that Simmons is attempting to do Clarke did. Droos is in a class of its own, a work of true literature, while also unravelling a plot by way of a circular descent into the underworld of the cesspool of London. Simmons makes the story "true" in many ways, by using actual historical events and the reader is enticed to believe - delightfully - that maybe all these creepy events really happened. Maybe Dickens really was a master of mesmerism. Simmons has done his research well.

I commend this book to everyone!

Read and Enjoy!

The Runes of the Earth (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Book 1)
The Runes of the Earth (The Last Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Book 1)
by Stephen R. Donaldson
Edition: Paperback
25 used & new from $0.87

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Literary Solitude in Fantasy, October 30, 2007
The first two chronicles of Thomas Covenant left me almost breathless with its agony and passion. I decided to star this series, doubting Donaldson would be able to replicate what he did in his other six books.

Wow. Was I happily wrong!

This and the others series are not for those who are used to the pulp that goes under the name "Fantasy" these days. It is exceptionally rare to find a book such as this that is a serious work of literature; the fantasy genre is not taken seriously because of this lack. Authors like Donaldson offer rare gems like this book (and hopefully the rest of this seres) that show that one can write books about magical realms and strange beings without it sounding like he is a former (or present) D&D nerd.

I have read in places that one can read this series without having read the previous two, but I would disagree. Donaldson's synopsis is marginally helpful, but woefully inadequate - though not his fault! If you want to know what happened, read the books! Admittedly, it was hard for me as I read the other books over the span of almost 2 decades.

Follow the travels and travails of Linden Avery and the hole left in her heart after her loss of Thomas Covenant.

Read and Enjoy!

Out of Egypt: Biblical Theology and Biblical Interpretation (Scripture and Hermeneutics Series, V. 5
Out of Egypt: Biblical Theology and Biblical Interpretation (Scripture and Hermeneutics Series, V. 5
by Mary Healy
Edition: Paperback
Price: $26.98
43 used & new from $9.52

8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An odd collection with a coupld zingers at the end!, August 20, 2007
In my research on the strange thing called "biblical theology" I came across this interesting book. Clearly written in general from an evangelical perspective (which is ok by me), this collection of essays about the task of biblical theology takes on various issues and analyses. There are several issues, from the problem of biblical theology in general to some specific applications of biblical theology; one that I found very helpful was Al Wolter's discussion of an obscure verse in Zachariah. Bauckham contributes a meaty essay on the problem of 'monotheism' as a biblical category (which, in modern terms, is not).

The fantastic essays by John Webster and R.R. Reno both struck me as the one-two punch that, to a certain extent, deconstructed much of the work of the whole first 2/3 of the book. Webster challenges readers to think theologically about the very ontology of the Bible; otherwise any technique or method falls flat. Reno points out that so often biblical theology has a strange effect of veering away from the text itself to develop "theologies" external to the text. These two essays are a wonderful end to a good book that probably would have left me unsatisfied were it not for the contributions of Reno and Webster.

Conversations with Barth on Preaching
Conversations with Barth on Preaching
by William H. Willimon
Edition: Paperback
Price: $22.80
64 used & new from $0.93

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Required reading for preachers, May 7, 2007
Written by one of the best preachers in the US about one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, this book is an outstanding contribution to Barth studies. Too often thought of as a "theologian" in the negative sense of being too academic, Barth is often read only by "academics" who are interested in esoteric and obscure matters. The problem is, Barth's writing, although meaty and dense at times, is filled with a passion for the task of preaching. Much of Barth's life was spent wrestling (and often failing) at preaching and was the goal for his entire theological project.

This book centres around the practice of preaching in light of Barth's theology and makes the point that a good preacher is a good theologian. That is to preach is to bear witness faithfully to the gospel as God's free act in toward his creatures, not eloquent rhetoric (although Barth is good at that too, despite his dislike of it!).

Read and enjoy!

The Shipping News
The Shipping News
by Annie Proulx
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.28
1119 used & new from $0.01

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A poetic and stormy novel, March 1, 2006
This review is from: The Shipping News (Paperback)
This is not generally the kind of novel I read. Either I am reading heavy material for my doctoral studies, or I read trash fiction for lighter fare. But, my wife happened to have this book lying around and I picked it up and was startled by Proulx's writing style and the ponderous emotion that is evoked by reading this book.

The novel is centred around what I see as a rather unlikely, but likeable, anti-hero, Quoyle. Presented as a lumbering sub-intelligent ox in the first few pages of the book, the reader is slowly led to find Quoyle's character to be deeper than we thought. His love for his daughters and his inner turmoil sparked by scorned love from his former wife bathes the story in sadness and a greyness that is reflected in the Newfoundland climate to which he and his family has moved.

Like the house he moves into, the characters in The Shipping News are stark and down-to-earth, struggling against the remoteness of their geography and the progress of technology into the old way of life. There are many themes in Proulx's book and she guides you through them with depth and feeling.

While beautiful, the writing style takes a bot of getting used to and I suppose I am used to having certain aspects of a plotcome to some kind of resolution. The murder of a yaught owner seems rather superfluous and appears to be an attempt at some kind of murder-mystery, but is never adressed any more than the actual event. I guess that's life...but I wanted more somehow.

Overall, a fascinating and emotional read.

Read and Enjoy!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 27, 2012 8:48 AM PST

Acts (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible)
Acts (Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible)
by Jaroslav Pelikan
Edition: Hardcover
30 used & new from $14.59

63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imagine that....a theologian reading the Bible!, February 9, 2006
I had the wonderful opportunity to get this book early as it was offered at the American Academy of Religion conference in November before it hit the shelves.

The concept of this whole series is fascinating and its intention, if carried through, should have a lasting impact on the relationship between biblical and theological studies. Too often there has been a traditional divide between the two fields and Brazos has decided to show how theology not only is "useful" for biblical interpretation - it is the very breath of theological talk.

In this first Volume on Acts, Pelikan has arranged his commentary so that he can pull out major theological "themes" - everything from Mary as Theotokos to the "Gospel of 40 days". With a rich analysis of the greek text and enlightening insights into the strong theological backbone if the book, Pelikan exemplifies the reality that theology is not about the Bible, but the other way around.

If you are looking for the typical textual and historical analysis, dry criticism and a search for redaction, please, go elsewhere. Pelikan, and I suspect the authors of the rest of the series, simply take the Bible to mean what it says. It is a reading "in faith".

What Pelikan has also been able to do is not only present to the reader a great scholarly work that is of interest to those who are in professional ministry, but also to make it accessible to people who may wish to use the book for personal use in biblical reflection. I would love to see this and the subsequent books to be used by bible study groups to really get a sense of the theological "meat" that can be found in all biblical text.

I look forward to reading more from this series.

Read and Enjoy!

Children of God (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
Children of God (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Mary Doria Russell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.76
320 used & new from $0.01

7 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A generally unsatisfying sequel, October 11, 2005
Perhaps I should blame myself; these days, my recreational reading is done before sleeping and in fits and starts. And, after reading the beauty that was The Sparrow, perhaps my hopes were too high. With that said, I found that this book just did not measure up with what was happening in The Sparrow.

First, Russell's timeline was stretch a bit too much this time. The Sparrow worked on the plot at both ends and the end of the book was kinf of the actual middle of the story, where we find out the truth of was happened. In Children of God, there is also the jumping around, but it is more disjointed and in some senses follows three timelines - a literary technique that helps her do some things, but is too confusing, at least for a dummy like me.

Second, there was too much complexity in the plot - ambiguities in the intents of the characters and even too many characters than were warranted. It diffused the themes of the book and made for tough slogging at times; "slogging" is what I should be doing with my text books on Hegel's philosophy, not Russell's clearly capable writing!

Finally, I guess I just don't think she should have resolved things, the questions that were asked in The Sparrow. I know (you have to know the end), they are not totally resolved, but the implicit suggestion is that Emilio can find meaning in his suffering. To be honest, I have the same problem with the book of Job too, but I like the tension and unanswerable questions raised in The Sparrow.

I wish I could rate this better, but this is my humble opinion.

The Sparrow: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
The Sparrow: A Novel (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Mary Doria Russell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.76
429 used & new from $0.01

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking and honest, September 6, 2005
Not since C.S. Lewis' Perelandra series have a read a book that can be properly catergorized as "theological sci-fi". The premise sounds odd: a group of Jesuit priests (and others) journey on a mission to Alpha Centauri to meet with the beings who emitted an intelligent radio signal. The priest who started the mission is the only one to survive (not a spoiler, as this comes out right at the beginning) and his faith is completely shattered.

This book asks the age-old tough questions of God and is both brutally honest (and honestly brutal!) and yet respectful of the Christian faith. Russell knows her Scriptures and does not make light of deep theological issues. Nor does she evade the deeply troubling realities of suffering, even - or especially - by those whose faith is strong.

It is only at the end that we find out what "The Sparrow" means (if you know your Bible, you can figure it out a bit) and it is treated briefly, but with heavy poignancy.

The structure of the book is brilliant. It kind of approaches the story from both ends; there are flashabcks, but the present and the past eventually meet. After putting the book down, I had much tot hink about and I am eager to read the sequel.

This is one of the best books I have read this year.

Read and Enjoy!

Identity of Jesus Christ
Identity of Jesus Christ
by Hans W. Frei
Edition: Hardcover
15 used & new from $8.00

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Remarkably readable...a theological tour de force, June 3, 2005
Hans Frei is well-known in academic theological circles. His call for reclaiming the narrative character of the Bible found in his first book, Eclipse of Biblical Narrative, serves as a backdrop of this book, but is by no means necessary to be able to read Identity. Much of Frei's writings are somewhat ponderous and difficult to read, but Identity - originally written for church leaders - is much more readable than is typical for Frei. Moreover, what Frei is saying in this book is enormously fresh and revolutionary, and has spawned several theological papers and theses (including my own Master's thesis).
The essential point Frei is trying to make is that we need to come to the gospel stories without the baggage that so often is attached to the modern liberal understanding of reading texts. Instead, what we find in the gospel stories is the "unique, unsusbstituatable identity" of Jesus Christ as being the one about whom the stories are about. It is about him and no other. It is not a moral tale, nor is it an instance of human religious conciousness, nor is it a purely historical document in the way that modern eyes and ears perceive history.
The gospels, for Frei, are "history-like", but are not meant to give chronological and "factual" information. Rather, Jesus is the irreplaceable person around whom Christian dogmas are centred, not the other way around. This point must be well-heeded even today by both liberals and conservatives who try to use the gospels either as religious metaphors or apologetics.
There is no doubt that, though MORE readable, it takes times to really let Frei's point sink in and the reader will need to digest this book slowly to realize the amazing work that it is.
Read and Enjoy!

The Bible and The New York Times
The Bible and The New York Times
by Fleming Rutledge
Edition: Paperback
Price: $24.00
82 used & new from $0.01

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A rare gem from a fantastic preacher, June 3, 2005
I had the distinct pleasure of being able to hear Rev. Rutledge preach a few times and attend an all-day workshop and I was forever affected by her engaging style and thoughtful analysis. She is a highly theological thinker who is a very well-read person.
The Bible and the New York Times is just that: an exploration of popular culture and the Christian faith that is neither sugary nor ignorant of the realities of suffering and pain. Rev. Rutledge is able to bring sound biblical exegesis and a vibrant style to her writing that is only surpassed by actually hearing her in person. Following the main days of the church year, this book helps the reader to pause and think of how the various days of the church calendar are relevant to modern people with faith. She brings out the rhythm of the people of God as they try to live out their faith in a secularized world, but she does so without resorting to easy or pat answers.
Read and Enjoy!

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