Taking almost three weeks off this month enabled me to spend some serious time reading this month. I was able to polish off three excellent books:
The Mind of Jihad by Laurent Murawiec. A fascinating study of the reasons and possible Gnostic origins that underlie the ideology of past and present day Islam and its concept of jihad. Although the ideology of jihad is essentially Islamic, Murawiec also shows how today's militant Islamists have borrowed heavily from both the Nazis and Bolsheviks. A dense but very helpful study into understanding the underlying reasons for the the brutality exhibited in such killings as the recent martyrdom of Mansuur Mohammed in Somalia.
Discipleship on the Edge by Darrell W. Johnson. As the subtitle suggests, this book is an expository journey through the book of Revelation. The author demonstrates, correctly, that Revelation is not a crystal ball of the future but a discipleship manual for Christians under persecution at the end of the first century and throughout history. In my teaching seminars around the world, I often ask participant which book of the Bible they find is the least comprehensible. The answer is almost universally, the book of Revelation. I would have agreed. It was a book I tended to avoid, having seen how it was abused when I was a young Christian growing as a teen up in the 1970's.
No longer. This book awakened my love for this incredible piece of scripture. I finally think that I am beginning to understand Revelation after having read this and the next book. (Note: we will probably be making this available through VOMC's online bookstore in December or January).
The Theology of the Book of Revelation by Richard Bauckham. An outstanding and surprisingly readable introduction to the theology of the book of Revelation. Like Johnson, Bauckham shows how the key to understanding Revelation is to understand the original context to which the book was addressed; one of rising opposition to the church. Both of these books will be foundational in my upcoming series of book on the biblical theology of persecution and discipleship which will take my earlier book, In the Shadow of the Cross and incorporate the research that I have done since its publication a few years ago.