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E. Clarke "Cambusken" (Glasgow, Scotland)
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The Apostle: The Life of Paul (John Pollock Series)
The Apostle: The Life of Paul (John Pollock Series)
Price: £5.56

3.0 out of 5 stars Once a Jew ..., 18 Nov 2014
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A very interesting Jewish angle on Paul as a Jewish/Pharisee writer. The style is somewhat leaden and repetitious, but the insights are well worth the effort. He also tries to set Paul's "conversion" within a framework of contemporary studies of the nature of conversion. It was a very enjoyable and enlightening read.


Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee
Paul the Convert: The Apostolate and Apostasy of Saul the Pharisee
by Alan F. Segal
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.75

4.0 out of 5 stars Paul was definitely not kosher, 23 Oct 2014
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This is a very detailed and interesting perspective on Paul's conversion, which is more convincing from the human point of view than the standard "Damascene" model. Segal uses models from modern sociological studies of "conversion" to examine the basic documentation - Acts of the Apostles and Paul's letters. He also uses the scarce Jewish writings of the time (Philo and Josephus, along with Qumran docments to give a Jewish perspective to Paul's "Pharisaic" formation and practice.He rightly points out that all Rabbinic Jewish documentation came at least 100 years after Paul. As a Jew himself, Segal sees the NT writings as key documents in understanding the development of the later Rabbinic tradition. Paul is the only Pharisee for whom we have documentary evidence. Paul's experience was mystical and later ecstatic, in the main line of Jewish mysticism. His conviction was apocalyptic, also in the Jewish tradition. His desire was to form a single post-Resurrection society of "Israel", but he was confronted with far-flung communities, from the Apostolically-based ones in Palestine to the more Diasopora-based ones in Asia Minor, Greece and Rome. There were various Jewish sects who were suspicious of Paul's activities, perhaps including his own Pharisees but also the Sadducees in power in Jerusalem, and various apocalyptic groups like the Essenes and others. Jewish Christians may have come from any of these backgrounds, but Segal seems to think they were mostly Pharisees, meaning strict Torah observers. Other Jewish Christians in the Diaspora may have had less strict observing background. Gentile Christians may have come from "god-fearing communities" attached to local Synagogues, and some (perhaps only a few) from pagan backgrounds. Segal points out the difficulties Torah-observant Jewish Christians (like the Apostles) would have with eating with or marrying or even socialising with non-circumcised Christians, because of purity issues. Nonetheless, Paul wanted everyone to be "one in Christ". How he tried to negotiate the competing claims, and how the Gentile Church won out over the Jewish Church is the stuff of a wider history, but this gives a refreshing jolt to those who fail to appreciate the original and deeply Jewish nature of the apostles' Church, and how near-impossible it was for such Torah-observant Jews to form a single community with the uncircumcised. Paul's determination, but also his great flexibility, was the key to success of the Gentile mission. The Jewish mission, on the other hand, petered out.
You have to get used to Segal's rather repetitive and pedestrian style. But the insights are worth the effort.


Forgery and Counter-forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics
Forgery and Counter-forgery: The Use of Literary Deceit in Early Christian Polemics
by Bart D. Ehrman
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £23.39

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good for Christians, 4 Feb 2014
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What impressed me most about this book is the detailed and imaginative scholarship. Ehrman has consulted a massive range of source materials and secondary commentaries. He makes a precise definition of "forgery" and deals only with those which meet his exacting criterion, but they include all the letters of the the New Testament apart from a few authentic Pauline epistles. Mostly, the forgeries are non-canonical texts. He shows that they were forged largely for polemical (often anti-semitic or anti-heretical) or apologetic (making Christians respectable to Romans) purposes and dismisses easily any suggestion that they were written by "secretaries" or loyal followers in an accepted tradition of "ghost writing". These writers knew they were engaged in deception (as the only one whose voice we hear clearly admits) but thought they were doing so in a greater cause. That deception was sometimes good was accepted by all pagans and most Christians (otherwise Augustine would not have needed to write a huge polemic against lying directed at Christians). The detail is fascinating (though alas I could not read the Greek quotations without translation!). He probably overstates his case (with regard to the Acts of the Apostles, for example) but no-one can seriously doubt that "forgery and counter-forgery" (forgeries created to rebut forgeries) were defining forces shaping the proto-orthodox Church. It is also a delight to read (despite occassional editorial lapses).


Soldier of Christ: The Life of Pope Pius XII
Soldier of Christ: The Life of Pope Pius XII
by Robert A. Ventresca
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £18.76

4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Worth a read, 10 May 2013
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Despite his (seeming) intentions, this book does nothing to dispel the popular prejudices concerning this controversial figure. Aloof and remote, authoritarian, with a fondness for authoritarian regimes,he was shatteringly silent during the Holocaust which was happening under his nose but voluble post-war against socialism and communism in Italian elections and beyond. This book gives nuance to this widely shared judgement, but really confirms it, and adds his complicity with "Catholic" fascist atrocities in Croatia and Hungary. Though there is always someone reporting how he "grieved" for the (always unnamed) victims and suggesting that he worked hard behind the scenes but this is largely undocumented. What is starkly shown up is the "Wizard of Oz" nature of the Papacy - behind all the grandeur and grand words, there was precious little influence or power. I found Pacelli's interest in Quantum Physics interesting, and was surprised to find he was the first Pope since St Peter to claim to have had visions of the Lord. (This explains his Dogmas on Our Lady, perhaps) I was irritated by the excessive detail on Curia gossip about his housekeeper and the attention given to his death, his quack physician and his embarrassing funeral. I was disappointed that the post-war period was dealt with so sketchily. The author makes a good case for seeing Pius XII as the first "global" Pope and as a precursor to the reforms of Vatican II, but not enough detail is given on these important issues or on his more reactionary doctrinal stances. It is a book worth reading, and is easily read, but it is too episodic and sketchy and the author too uncertain about his judgements to make it a definitive or classic biography.


Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine
Pagans and Christians: In the Mediterranean World from the Second Century AD to the Conversion of Constantine
by Robin Lane Fox
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Indispensible but frustrating, 25 April 2013
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This is a fascinating account of pious and popular pagan religiosity and its continuance and trasformation under the influence of Imperial Christianity. It is also enlightening on the varieties of Christianity in the Classical era, on how much of pagan religious thought and practice they incorported and on the amazing sins they committed. One Christian lady who beat her slave to death was excluded from Communion for a year, for example. Sexual sins were more harshly dealt with, with people crawling on the ground begging forgiveness. So this book should be read by anyone interested in the Classical period or early Christianity. I do not doubt the scholarship, and am lost in admiration for his knowledge of texts, inscriptions, papyri and archaology, but the style is enormously frustrating. At both the prose level and at the level of argumentation he appears rambling, suddenly diving off into some other observation, thought or comment, so that you are not quite sure where you are. (Don't expect any clear chronology). It is a pity that people are put off by this, because I doubt if you can get the same breadth, and the same detail, on this epoch anywhere else. Pity about the prose.


Trent: What Happened at the Council (Early Modern and Modern Greek)
Trent: What Happened at the Council (Early Modern and Modern Greek)
by John W. O`Malley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £17.00

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 25 April 2013
This book is written in pleasant, easy prose but manages to put this epoch-making Council into historical context, then proceed to thread an understandable (not to say exciting) path through what must have been unspeakably complicated sets of documents, negotiations and procedures. Then it present summaries of decisions on doctrine and reform which are so surprising in their, what shall I say?, modesty and modsernity. The legendary authoritarian and reactionary deeds of the Council were in fact largely due to those who interpreted and enacted its decisions (the Popes in particular, and these become understandable).This is very sympathetic to the sincerity and ability of the Council members, but pulls no punches in setting out the political (and financial) manoevering involved on all sides (bishops, Popes and Princes primarily, but theologians and the religious orders too). It was great. I am lost in admiration.
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Practice Makes Perfect Advanced Italian Grammar: All You Need to Know for Better Communication (Practice Makes Perfect Series)
Practice Makes Perfect Advanced Italian Grammar: All You Need to Know for Better Communication (Practice Makes Perfect Series)
by Marcel Danesi
Edition: Paperback
Price: £8.99

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars More banal than I thought, 23 Dec 2012
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I probably should work at this more, but it just seems so banal for the most part. Maybe I shall return to it later in the year.


Essential Italian Grammar
Essential Italian Grammar
by Olga Ragusa
Edition: Paperback
Price: £4.89

3.0 out of 5 stars A bit schematic, 23 Dec 2012
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A bit more schematic than the normal in this series, but it covers the basic ground. I wish there were more examples than there are.


Concise Oxford-Paravia Italian Dictionary
Concise Oxford-Paravia Italian Dictionary
by Oxford Dictionaries
Edition: Hardcover

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good reference, 23 Dec 2012
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Probably I thought it would be more like the Spanish or French dictionaries with lots of examples of curent use, but it seems to be just a dictionary. Very full and clear, but I miss the extensive examples


10x 40W Clear Candle Ball Bulb (SES Base) 240V - FREE POSTAGE + PACKAGING
10x 40W Clear Candle Ball Bulb (SES Base) 240V - FREE POSTAGE + PACKAGING
Offered by Goods Wholesale Ltd
Price: £6.31

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good value, 23 Dec 2012
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I found it difficult to get these bulbs, so I ordered 20 to see me through the next few years. So far they seem to be working fine.


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