Monday, November 17, 2008

An Eccentric Reading List, Part 5

Moving to the 14th century, we move from theology per se to theology and social criticism posing as poetry. That is the Divine Comedy of Dante. A great work of literature, thoroughly informed by the theology of the day. I recommend the Penguin Classics edition translated by Dorothy Sayers, but probably any annotated edition (and there are many available) would do.

For the 15th century, I recommend In Praise of Folly by Erasmus. Yes, I realize that technically this is 16th century, since it was published in 1511. However, it imbibes the spirit of the 15th century, since it shows forth all the various strains of revolt and protest that were beginning to bubble up in the 15th century. There are a number of editions available, both online and in print, and I don't have one to recommend above the others.

For the 16th century there is an embarrassment of riches, and no choice I make will receive any universal approval. However, I recommend Luther's Commentary on Galatians. Kregel Classics has published a nice edition of it in paperback, or if you have Kindle, it is available for $3.19. I recommend this in part because it is the contrary to Erasmus. In part, I also recommend it because it reminds us, if we need reminding, of why there was a Reformation, and why it is still important. You will probably learn more about Luther than about Galatians, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

Finally, for this post, the 17th century. Again, an embarrassment of riches, because this was the age of the Puritans. However, as an one who enjoys Tolkien, recognizing that that Lord of the Rings is really a tetralogy (including The Hobbit), I recommend what I call the "sin" tetralogy by John Owen. These are the four works that make up volume 6 of Owen's collected works: On the Mortification of Sin, On Temptation, On Indwelling Sin in Believers, and Exposition of Psalm 130 (on forgiveness of sin). In this day of both legalism and licentiousness, every minister ought to read these by Owen and put them into practice. He will grow in holiness, and avoid many dangers.

1 comment:

Chris said...

Dear Dr. Shaw,

I wanted to let you know thatI really appreciated this series. It was a neat idea and a good Reformation Day challenge: ad fontes! With my schedule these days it's a slow process to do "extra-curricular" reading (although there are a few of the works that I have already read).

I would like to encourage you to keep it up - despite the proliferation of blogs and media and the expansion of Calvinistic and Reformed theology, good content and truly biblical scholarship is still scarce. Thank you for providing both.

By His grace,
Chris P.