Jan 31

The Returning King, by Vern Poythress   ???

Also subtitled “A Guide to the Book of Revelation”, this book is a cross between a commentary and a narrative explanation of the meaning of Revelation. By that, he approaches his comments in a somewhat commentary style, occasionally pausing to offer insights into obscure phrases or words. Yet, the flow of the book is more intended to simply try to offer a big picture of what the book is all about. Its closest parallel is the book “More than Conquerors” by William Hendriksen. Hendriksen does offer a similar 7 cycle motif to the book, but spends much more detail in detailing the nature of the cycles, and why a book of prophecy would be presented as a series of cycles. By 7 cycles, Hendriksen explains that history is re-told 7 times, each in a differing, and progressive perspective. Hendriksen is also not fearful about taking an opinion about his interpretative camps, making it clear that an amillenial view best fits the 7-cycle motif. I certainly agree with Hendriksen, and feels that, in part, makes Hendriksen’s text a much better text than Poythress has to offer. Poythress attempts to see makes the series of 7 cycles fit either premillenial, amillenial, or postmillenial thinking. I don’t believe it works. Poythress’ text is certainly not without value, and a worthy read, though, “More than Conquerors” remains a superior and more insightful text of providing an amillenial explanation of the last book of the Scriptures.

 

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Jan 31

Mendelssohn: The Masterworks, produced by Brilliant Classics   ?????

This is not a comprehensive compendium of the works of Mendelssohn, though it is fairly complete, for the most popular works of this composer. This set is a budget offering, and performers are European and often less known, though never second rate. Virtually none of the performances were in any case poorly done, and the recording quality was superb (DDD) throughout. For the price, it remains an extremely good value. Besides excellent performances of his 5 symphonies and two oratorios (Elias and Paulus), you also get performances of his harder to find string symphonies, and well as a reasonably complete offering of his chamber works. I don’t see all of his solo vocal works, though a significant number of pieces are included, again, by first rate singers. All in all, it is a most worthy acquisition for those who appreciate the compositions of Mendelssohn.

 

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Jan 27

Nachgefragt: Deutsche Geschichte, by Reinhard Barth   ?????

Translated essentially “Inquiry-German History”, this is a delightful little overview of German history written by a German for the school-age person. It presents various historical vignettes by first asking a simple question, such as, “How did the thirty-years war come about?”, or “What was Hitler’s goal in foreign policy?”, and then, a short 1-2 page answer is offered. More complex words are redefined in the columns. All in all, it makes for excellent reading practice for a faltering English-speaker trying to learn another language. Of course, I did learn many new words, all of which a write down on an index card for re-review. The history is itself is fascinating, covering subjects that most Americans are not terribly familiar with, such as the events of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, and the raid on Springer Verlag. Other topics are discussed differently than one would typically be presented in American schools, such as the nature of the two world wars. It is true that the victors write the history, which usually is at least partially incorrect. So, one gets the feel with the history of Germany. In all, it was a good read, and I’ll be looking for more German history books to both practice my Deutsch, as well as see history from a different perspective.

 

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Jan 27

Goethe

By Kenneth Feucht Media, Movies No Comments »

Goethe    ????

Wahlverwandschaften, Der Leiden des Jungen Werthers, Lotte in Weimar, or, in English, Selective Affinities (Goethe), The Sorrows of Young Werther (Goethe), and Lotte in Weimar (Thomas Mann), or, The Beloved Returns.

This series is produced by DeFa, an Eastern German film studio, on a limited budget, yet still maintains a significant quality with good acting in the production. I will not review each film separately, but only mention that German reviewers on Amazon.de tended to be somewhat unking, espectially with Der Leiden des Jungen Werthers for not portraying the Goethe book accurately. I simply could not address that issue.  In Der Leiden, young Werther is unfulfilled in his love for Charolotte, and eventually commits suicide over this. It is reportedly based on the unrequited love that Goethe had for a young lady in Frankfurt where he grew up. Lotte in Weimar is included in the series, since it is a depiction by Thomas Mann of the hypothetical reunion of Lotte and Goethe in Weimar, after both were much older. Wahlverwandschaften is the story of love intrigue during the Napoleonic Wars, when a young noble couple are visited by a young relative of the wife, to which the husband falls in love. My wife and I engaged in conversations over these movies, comparing these films to those depicting the novels of Jane Austen. My sense is that Goethe possesses a much greater mastery of depiction of the human condition, like Shakespeare, than Austen. Jane Austen tends to paint fanciful novels, that while protraying a strong sense of early Victorian morality of love and courtship, paints that picture in a surreal, and fictitious environment of wealthy landed Gentry who spend their lives at sport, in an England that Englanders would like to believe existed but never did. Goethe (and Thomas Mann) gives one more of the true blood and guts of human existence, in a background that is more tragic, but also more closely approximating reality than one would ever find in the Austen stories. Goethe never attempts to bypass morality, and, in Wahlverwandschaften, still leaves the complexity of moral issues seeking resolution with moral implications. Goethe remains heavily neglected by American schools, a travesty that is our loss.

 

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Jan 23

Exegetical Fallacies, by D.A. Carson   ????

The book is divided up into four main chapters, each of those chapters illustrating a principle area of error in biblical exegesis. The first two chapters, on word-study fallacies, and on grammatical fallacies, were a tad bit challenging to read, in that I knew very little Greek. The chapters were not worthless, but educational in showing how interpretational assumptions and sloppiness can create grave errors in interpretation. The most practical personal lesson was to realize the danger of learning just a little Hebrew and Greek. Unfortunately, it will guarantee to create more false interpretations that light on a subject. This is easy to understand, as, when one learns another language, one can pick up a text and assume to understand clearly what is being said, until one reads a legitimate interpretation. Such an experience can be quite embarrassing. The third chapter, on logical fallacies, was very good at pointing out how sometimes muddled thinking leads to the most inappropriate conclusions. Such muddled thinking includes carrying in assumptions and preconceived baggage into a Scripture passage, that causes is to say something other than what the author truly intended it to say. Finally, presuppositional and historical fallacies were discussed. Some discussion was spent in the review of the new deconstructionist movement, attempting to claim that the Scriptures could mean whatever the reader saw in them. Such an interpretation is in defiance of the historical author, who meant his words to mean very specific things. All in all, this is a must-read book for any serious biblical scholar, and though it will be a bit above the head of one not entirely skilled in the Biblical languages, is still instructive at helping one detect when exegesis has failed to properly divide the word of truth.

 

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