- What a great title! And the author tells us he wants to develop his thesis from the New Testament documents. (p.2) I have been engaged in this same endeavor myself and looked forward to what I could gain from Juell's discussion. I really wanted to like and benefit from this book. But by the first page, little warning signs began to appear. Poorly written sentences. Incorrect assertions. No, within the first generation the Gospel had not spread throughout the known world. I began to make a few notes on sentence fragments, grammatical errors, oddities of expression. Eventually I thought perhaps he was not a native speaker and I was being too harsh. But if being born and educated in Canada (where I, too, was born) qualifies one to be a native speaker, the author is a native speaker. A simple sentence like "It did not straddle a major trade crossroad like Shechem or Bethel." (5) This is from a section on the topography of Jerusalem, which has several other odds sentences. But his summary on the topography of Jerusalem is" Overall, Jerusalem, was not a well-designed city." (5) But he has only spoken about the geological setting of Jerusalem, nothing about the city at all, let alone how it was planned. So I began to focus just on content, for there is always something one can learn from what others have written. I was particularly looking forward to his discussion of leadership in the early church. Where had it come from, how did it develop through the NT? Well, elders are by all accounts a critical part of the early leadership of the church. So where did elders, the idea of elders, come from? Mr. Juell's entire discussion of the rise and role of elders in Jewish worship is two statements: elders sat in the synagogue(58) , and there was "a council of elders directed by a 'synagogue ruler'" (72) That is the entire discussion of elders before their use by the Early Church. It is very difficult for me to imagine this being a thesis. I have yet to finish the book, but I write this to warn others. This was not a cheap book. ($12.99) If you know nothing about the topic you will surely learn something. Mostly it will be things the author has gleaned from the usual secondary or tertiary sources, to judge from the footnotes. I wanted to like the book, and the topic is a critical one. This does bring together many of the NT verses and passages on certain topics. But this is done in many sources. If you are looking for unique insight, or a reasoned discussion of primary sources, or even precise discussion and dissection of our current context, you will probably be disappointed. It is unlikely I will finish the book. Look for a better resource for this crucial discussion. Your time is too valuable to spend on this book. I wish I could say better things. He does exalt the Lord Jesus. Amen.
- This is one of the greatest unread resources available to gain an understanding of the flow of western culture. Criticized for being to Eurocentric, it is titled Great Books of the WESTERN World. In doing a thesis on the development of free will and determinism in western theological thought, this was an invaluable resource. It is the Syntopicon that makes the work valuable. It indexes 102 ideas across all of the included titles. Even the internet and all the resources available cannot yet do this for you, because it is based on ideas, not words. Even an electronic version of all 517 works included could not do this for you, because it took human readers (many of them) thousands of hours to look for these ideas within each of the books included. The twenty-five or so volumes of The Great Ideas Today are great reading, but not indexed, I think. There is also a 10 volume Gateway to the Great Books, also not included but useful. But these 60 volumes are the heart of the series, and with the Syntopicon a resource that will probably never be recreated. This is a great value at the pre-pub price of $99.99!
- Great review rich! I have been waiting for Noet/Logos or Faithlife to publish The Great Books electronically. Can't wait!
- Yes--the Syntopicon, particularly integrated with Noet/Logos, is why I've been wanting this. The work itself and the technology are a perfect match!
- And now, arriving 10 June 2016, is . . . . The Great Books of the Western World! No more typing out Aristotle quotations - which I was just doing this last week. So my most wanted list is down to Strack-Billerbeck in English, which is in 'gathering interest' mode. One of the great unknown resources for understanding Jewish culture as it relates to the NT.